Trying to juggle homework, sports, chores, family time, and screentime/xbox with the kids

Im struggling with how to fit it all in. My kids want to come home and have time to themselves for a little after school but then we have to have dinner, head off to sports most nights, dont get home till 7 or 8, then still have homework to do, and chores to do but they also want to have screentime. They want to have a little downtime coming home which Im fine with but then they cant get themselves motivated to do the rest of the stuff (homework, chores, etc) before dinner. Then were off to sports, then home, then its practically rush around time again to get ready for the next day. I’m about ready to say no screentime whatsoever until everything is done but my husband disagrees saying they need time to unwind after school for a little but everything is not getting done. Sample schedule below:

Home from school: 3:30pm
Dinner: 4-4:30pm
Sports: 5-7:30-sometimes 8 (even later during the winter)
Bedtime: 9:30-10:00pm

In that timeframe we have to do homework, chores, make lunches, shower, etc for the next day. Chores for both kids consist of your basic stuff (setting the dinner table, clearing the dinner table, loading the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher if needed, emptying the garbage if needed, doing the laundry if needed, feeding the dog, cleaning up your room, wiping down the counters from dinner).

Should I only allow them screentime after all of this is done or is it ok for them to wind down after school for a little then let them do their stuff. They also don’t like when I nag them or get upset with them when the stuff doesn’t get done.

Hi, Tom. Welcome! This sounds so much like our life!! It’s a constant battle here, too, (my kids are always asking for more more more screens) and I just stay consistent and remind them daily.

The difference is that we typically have our dinner after practices. Yes, we sometimes don’t end until 9pm also! My kids feel sluggish and nauseous when they eat a lot before their practices. So ours looks something like:

  • Home from school about 3:30ish.
  • Quick chat, wash hands, and they have a healthy snack / watch tablet for about 30 minutes.
    (the snack helps to hold them over for dinner later).
  • I let them know screen time is over about 4 / 4:15. Then they get down to homework, which they are usually done with by 5. Then a quick chore if we have time.
  • off to our practices, and then home, eat, shower, bed.
    (I will typically sometimes let them watch another 20-30m show while they eat dinner).

We don’t have much time at all for screentime on school nights, but I also understand they need some downtime when they get home. So I allow it with the snack. As far as any gaming, they really just don’t have the time. IF all else were to be done or they didn’t have homework, then yes that may happen, but it is rare.

It’s busy and hard. We try and be consistent, but we also just take it one evening at a time! I make it clear that our school work always comes first and we can’t always have screens if we are busy. They get it. They may grumble, but they get it.

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Oh I feel you on all of this ! I was beginning to wonder how I am supposed to get it all done !!! Our commute time is 20 to 30 from school functions daily… so my 12 year old can use that time to get on his phone or take a nap. As far as chores… his dad and i have had to pick up on most of that since school started back. Weekends a different story. He is in honors and he knows that school comes first. I feel he should help out more during the week but with him being so busy I’m trying to not overload him ! I guess we will implement chores after this interim report being all As… seeing him not struggle makes it easier to add something small to his list. I hope you get a happy medium that works for yall !!! We are tweaking ours week to week.

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Hey Tom and everyone,

I know this solution isn’t for everyone, but I was feeling the same way a few years back and found something that works for our family. Homework was taking over our lives and not only did our kids not get any downtime, they were also getting to bed at 11pm or after. I got so sick of hurrying them out of bed in the morning, through breakfast and then to school, then when they got home nagging and rushing them through homework, off to do sports and rushing back to hurry them through dinner and more homework (which was a nightmare because they were so sick of school stuff by then) and into bed to do it all again the next day.

So after a lot of thinking and praying and deliberating, we decided to homeschool and our lives are SO MUCH more peaceful now. There are TONS of resources now so anyone can do it (it’s not that tricky, honestly), the flexibility is awesome, and the kids can be kids again. Now they sleep in a little while I get my work done early in the morning (I’m self-employed), then they do school for a few hours (we do some together work, but mostly they do their schoolwork on their own), and then they have the rest of the day to go outside and be kids. By the time their friends are home from school they can play with them or have a little screen time, and on the days we have sports there’s no stress and they can be in bed at a decent time. (Although bed doesn’t have to be as early now since I’m not waking them up at the crack of dawn.)

Just thought I’d share in case anyone else is at the end of their rope like I was. I wrote all about it here in case anyone wants to read more.

Kelly

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I feel ya… it’s a battle for us all. What has kept me grounded is the track record of success we had with our kids before screens entered the picture. We started habits of snack/homework before dinner in elementary school, and that has continued into middle and high school whenever possible (we did have sports right after school some nights). Up until January of this year we had no screen time during the week, if you can believe it! That lasted for a few years, and this year we are making adjustments based on our weekend schedule (our kids have more weekend obligations now, so we had no family time left). I will offer one piece to give thoughtful consideration to… we try to limit screens as the only way to relax. We have instruments to play in our home, music to listen to, a basketball hoop, books to read and an art station. So for us, screens are always after the initial “school shed” (de-stress time right after school), after homework, and after chores. (chores are minimal during the week… easy to pull off). Do my kids fight this? YES. But the structure still remains in place as often as possible. I notice as an adult that I have become far too entitled to my screen time as the only way to unwind. Sometimes I need to go for a walk or just sit and listen to music! I’m fighting the pull to the screen too… I wish I had parents to tell ME “no.” :):joy:

I have worked on slowing my life down, it’s not worth it to be so rushed and so stressed. Kids do need to relax after school. I’m a teacher and can tell you they are working hard all day. Also they need lots of sleep. Check an online chart of how much sleep your kids should be getting at their age. So trying to push the bedtime earlier would be good. How can you streamline some things? Do more chores on Saturday? Make all the lunches on Sunday? Hire a cleaning lady? Do one less sport? What can you do to slow things down and have less things to do and try to squeeze in?

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