School can be very stressful for kids! After spending all day in chairs being told what to do, getting outdoors – in nature – is my favorite way to help my kids decompress. In Massachusetts it was sometimes too cold for these activities (raining or too cold). The weather is nearly always fine in California, but sometimes I have to get home (where we do not have much space to play outside) to do chores or for Anna to take a nap or start dinner. Sometimes we have doctor’s appointments, which my kids find at last as stressful as school! I am sure I am not the only parent with this problem, so today I am sharing some of my favorite calm activities that help kids decompress after school.
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Calm Activities to Help Kids Decompress After School
- Detailed coloring pages. There are a lot of these that you can download for free online – Print Mandala is our personal favorite site. If you want a physical coloring book, this Flower Designs Coloring Book and this Nature Mandalas Coloring Book both look good, and received excellent reviews on Amazon.
- Sticker books. This Mosaic sticker book is our family’s favorite.
- Listening to Classical instrumental music. If you happen to have Amazon Prime, I recommend their Classical for Reading playlist as a starting point. My kids like Bach’s Cello Suites, Chopin’s preludes and nocturnes, Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is also nice), and the Spring movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
- Sensory activities. Play dough and sand trays rank high on our list, and I am tempted to invest in Thinking Putty, which is essentially really pretty silly putty!
- Looking at family photos. We put ours into photo books (I am way behind and need to catch up), and my kids really enjoy looking through them. Looking at old photos is a great way to remind kids of things they love, and it can help them learn more about their family history and culture.
- Household chores. Once these are clearly defined and kids are willing to do them without fussing, household chores can be a very calming part of their day! Contributing to the family can be a very rewarding feeling!
- Extreme Dot to Dots. These are particularly useful when you need kids to be quiet. Each dot to dot takes my kids at least an hour. I copy the pages using my printer and they all work on the same dot to dot together. Thanks to this book, even kindergarten-aged Lily knows her numbers well into the hundreds!
You may be surprised that reading is not on my list. Anyone who has seen my home library will tell you that I love books, and particularly children’s literature, and reading is an activity all of my kids engage in at some point in the day. But reading is a distracting soothing technique. For kids to process their days, they need time where they can think. All of the activities above are simple enough that kids can think through things in their head while they do them.
What are your favorite calm activities for kids?