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I’m the Mama of three young kids and we live in London with my husband and two cats. I mainly blog about things that make children smile, get very excited, or find totally amazing … without taking up too much effort on your part!  I hope you enjoy …

Dealing With After School Tiredness & Tantrums

Dealing With After-School Tantrums & Tiredness

We’re having strops, tantrums and loud shouts of ‘NO!’ after school, which I’m assured is happening all over London, so this does make me feel a BIT better.  I’ve been totally expecting it, as our gorgeous four year old boy has Sensory Processing Disorder.  You can read all about our journey here.  To be honest I was expecting far worse, but from what people have told me, he’s coping well within the range of ‘typical’ and the teacher says he’s settled in better than some of the other children.  Many of the little ones who’ve started in Reception seem to be waiting until they get home before demonstrating their LEAST lovely behaviour and we all feel like our nerves are jangling and our heads ringing.

‘Big school’ is a huge step for us them in terms of emotional change but it’s also very very busy, noisy and with new routines, new people, in a new space and the whole playground ‘thing’… It’s exhausting for them, just as it is when we start a new job or become a parent 😉 It’s the difficult combination of having total sensory overload with absolutely zero control over your day. They have to ask permission to go to the toilet, if they cough too much they’re asked to stop; they’re micro-managed up to the hilt. I don’t disagree with this but I do think it’s relentless for them and takes some adapting to.

We have three children, so the older two are naturally bigger and louder, which means there’s no peace at home either! Sometimes I have tantrums too. Anyway, his behaviour was so bad and he was clearly shattered and unhappy, so we’ve put extra steps in to try and help him transition and get some quality down time either side of his school day.

Things we’ve found that have REALLY helped and even result in beautiful harmonica-music-in-gloves..

Dealing With After-School Tantrums & Tiredness
The harmonica always sounds better when played in gloves….

Quietness before and after school:
No radio or TV on, no screaming, no running, everyone talking in calm low voices or playing elsewhere. Amazingly this has had THE biggest effect.  It removes as much external stimulation as possible and really helps him to unwind.

Outdoor Play
This seems to be invaluable after school.  Time to just potter about without being told what to do. A time when all the choices are his.

Calm, Quiet One to One
As soon as we get in, I make sure he has something he wants to read or play with and if he can’t settle into it without frustration, we spend 5-10 minutes playing in silence together.  If I do need to talk I whisper or speak in a very quiet low tone. Today we spent 10 minutes putting on and taking off handcuffs because that’s what he wanted to do.

Snack Management
Ensure he’s had enough breakfast and if we think he needs a top up I give him a healthy snack shortly after breakfast, before he goes in to his classroom.  Something with slow release energy e.g. these sugar free oaty bites or fruit and then a good healthy and substantial snack and a drink on pick-up from school.

Early to Bed
We’ve brought his bed time forward by 30-45 minutes depending on what state he’s in.  His wake-up time seems to be unaffected by the time he goes to bed, so we’ve increased his rest by lengthening his night at the other end instead (cunning eh?).

I’d love to hear if anyone else is having the same issues and has any other suggestions that have worked for them.  Please do leave a comment!

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17 comments

  • Harry's Honest Mummy
    October 3, 2015 AT 8:30 AM

    My son is only 2 but is starting to get to the point where he runs himself ragged at the childminder’s with the bigger boys and then is exhausted when I pick him up. My “he’s been so well behaved all day” child turns in to an absolute monster for me before we have even pulled off her drive! I have no tips but it was very useful to read yours so I will be stealing a few. Thanks for sharing. #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      October 4, 2015 AT 10:44 AM

      Thank you so much for popping in for a read. I’m sorry you’re going through this too – it doesn’t last though, which is a huge relief for everyone!

  • Becky @ PinksCharming
    October 2, 2015 AT 5:25 PM

    Good tips here, and I think I will try and get our girls to bed half an hour early, she seems so tired all the time but still wakes up early! Becky #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      October 2, 2015 AT 8:12 PM

      That’s exactly the trouble we were having Becky – it doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed, he still wakes up at the same time! I know lots of children will sleep in if they’re tired but unfortunately not this one!

  • Jennifer
    October 1, 2015 AT 4:31 PM

    Aww such a tough adjustment! I agree, managing stimulus levels is really important. Mine get milk and a carb-dense snack after school and a low-key activity like reading or puzzles and they seem to be a bit less stressed after half an hour. Also agree with earlier bed-times, even if they don’t fall asleep right away — rest is good! Visiting from #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      October 2, 2015 AT 11:34 AM

      So pleased you’ve got it sorted Jennifer and yes rest is so important and not just when you’re asleep, you’re exactly right!

  • Vanessa
    October 1, 2015 AT 10:30 AM

    Sounds like you’ve got some good strategies in place to handle everything, some great tips in there. I’m loving the harmonica in gloves! (but might not try it at home quite yet!)

  • lisa lock
    October 1, 2015 AT 7:26 AM

    We have got one just started school and the bedtime thing is the one essential thing we have found makes such a difference. Asleep by 7pm seems to be working… before it was about 8 but she was too knackered. Week one was fine, week 2 was emotional and now she ‘seems’ to be getting the hang of it. Her little brother (2) has been going through a MASSIVE separation anxiety stage too as his sis has left him. They used to go to nursery together

    • International Elf Service
      October 1, 2015 AT 9:57 AM

      Oh gosh that sounds really hard on both you and your little boy Lisa. Yes I think there’s mostly one main thing for each child that makes the biggest difference and the trick it to find out which one! x

  • Mummy Fever
    September 30, 2015 AT 6:41 PM

    very familiar! i found that it is mainly hunger or thirst related #brilliantblogposts

    • International Elf Service
      October 1, 2015 AT 8:47 AM

      Yes we have that too but with #spd and learning difficulties there seems to be added difficulties! He’s really turned a corner this week though and is doing brilliantly.

  • Karen
    September 29, 2015 AT 9:38 PM

    This is familiar – as you know. my eldest has just started too. New routines, new people etc takes a lot of getting used to, so it is hardly surprising. We have extreme mood swings – ecstatically happy one moment and then screaming tantrums on the floor. I love your tips!
    I’m coping with starting school with a glass of wine in the evenings – cheers!

    • International Elf Service
      September 29, 2015 AT 9:45 PM

      I can’t believe I didn’t add the glass of wine tip! Us too! Lots of ‘getting-over-it-soon wishes for you over there too… xxx

  • martyn
    September 25, 2015 AT 11:38 AM

    This is pretty standard so you’re not alone. Love the ideas you have in place and I hope it changes the situation. Especially love the harmonica! Will admit though that after reading the first paragraph I was expecting it to be you that’s having after school tantrums 😉 #bigfatlinky

    • International Elf Service
      September 28, 2015 AT 8:26 PM

      Do you know, it mostly is me having tantrums after school!!!!

  • Anita Cleare
    September 24, 2015 AT 7:30 AM

    I think what you are experiencing is pretty common! Hopefully, it will fade as he gets used to school – but could recur every time school steps up a gear (which it does!). I think your strategies are great. A snack and some playtime (and a not too late night) can be magic healers!

    • International Elf Service
      September 24, 2015 AT 1:31 PM

      Yes I think you’re right and we’re fully expecting it to all pop up again. The kids usually get really tired at the end of each half term too, so that will be another tricky time for him I expect.

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