Enjoy these fun things to do after school including a free printable set of 20 Questions to ask your kids!
Once our kids started school, I quickly realized that time together during the week was going to be VERY limited.
They don't get home until 3:30 pm here -- and of course there are days when afterschool activities take place, plus homework, dinner prep, gathering things for the next day and bath or shower.
Which leaves a small window of opportunity to touch base and see how life's going for everyone.
And that time to connect is so important!
But yet, asking them "So, how was your day?" is usually met with "Fine." or in our case "It was schooly."
Yes, my kids resort to making up new words to throw me off :)
I'm on to their tricks and have a few of my own to get them talking and turn a somewhat boring afternoon into an AWESOME time to connect!
17 Awesomely Fun Things to do After School
Getting your kids to open up can be harder than getting them to clean their room!
And it seems the older they get, the less likely they are to talk.
In my experience, you can't be direct. Asking "What happened at school today?" probably won't result in the meaningful conversation you're hoping for on most days.
So here are a few creative, "buck the system" ideas that are sure to get them talking! We're also including affiliate links for a few things we LOVE to use for after school fun too.
Pull out the Chalk
Diving right into a conversation after sitting all day doesn't go over so well in our house.
Instead, try allowing for some creative time -- sidewalk chalk, sketching or anything that doesn't require them to 'think' usually goes over well.
Have you seen the new Neon Sidewalk chalk? Also a super cool way to practice those spelling words too ;)
Serve up a Snazzy Snack
Food always seems to help our kids share about their day. They walk in the door and say they're "starving" when they get home so their first thoughts are focused on eating and not talking.
Surprise them with a fun & healthy afterschool snack (I love surprises :) like these fruity mocktail-type drinks in a special glass (we had these pink plastic champagne flutes left over from a recent party). My kids know I'm super focused on healthy options but that doesn't mean they have to be boring!
Their favorite 100% juice and something yummy like Oatmeal Chocolate Chip muffins is the perfect pairing.
Just garnish it with a skewer of grapes & chopped apple slices -- and top it off with a cherry, of course!
Have a 'No Electronics' Time in the Car
So many of us are chauffering kids to after school activities and that time in the car is the perfect time to chat!
Except for those darn text messages, Snapchat conversations and headphones!
Talk to your kids about having a few 'no electronics' days each week. Maybe a Tuesday Talk Time if you want to call it something fun.
And let them talk about ANYTHING they want :)
No peppering them with questions -- give them the opportunity to tell you all the crazy stories they heard at school and you'll be opening lines of communication for future conversations.
Take Homework to the Park
Try this the next time the kids have "too much homework" --
Head to the playground and do 2 math problems, then swing for 2 minutes -- 2 more math problems and go down the slide.
Believe it or not, our brains work better when we're active so your kids are more likely to breeze through their homework and not even complain about getting it done!
Visit a New Park or Playground
Giving kids the opportunity to burn off some steam goes a long way.
Think about this - they've been sitting for most of the day so some 'run around time' before you chat will help them to focus on the conversation.
Younger kids will might enjoy this Playground Scavenger Hunt while teens like to toss a frisbee, throw baskets or just hang out and relax. And the 'new' also means you're less likely to run into a ton of friends you know -- great for those kids that never want to be seen with Mom & Dad ;)
Stop Everything and Swing!
This is a tradition my daughter & I have instituted in our house and is perfect for those busy weeks when you don't feel like you've had enough time to connect.
If you have swings in your yard -- this is an easy activity!
And if you don't have swings, you could do a 'stop everything and play Jarts or basketball or any game you like.
Once a week -- WITHOUT ANY NOTICE -- each person in the house is allowed to yell "Stop Everything and Swing" and all family members have to head out to the swingset!
You can put some limits on it -- like no saying it right before bed or you can't use the phrase during dinner. It worked beautifully for us and gave my daughter some control over when she wanted to talk and relax together.
Enjoy a Book Together
Sometimes a word or picture will quickly help kids recall something that happened that day so read aloud time is a great after school activity!
Not sure what to read? Browse our list of the 50 Best Read Aloud Books for Families to get a few ideas!
Who can resist blowing bubbles after a long day at school?!
Heck, I enjoy it after a long day at work :)
It's relaxing -- and everyone's more likely to open up when they're relaxed.
Spend some time in the Hammock
Hammock, lounge chair or any other special spot for relaxing -- chill for a while!
Sometimes the peaceful silence is all you need to spark a conversation (I've found this to be especially true with teens!)
Talk in a Secret Language
When my son was younger, I taught him sign language and we would use that to spell out conversations after school. Secrete codes or languages are 'cool' for kids!
You can teach them Pig Latin, some number cypher or talk in a language other than your primary tongue.
Share a News Story
Talking about a current event and asking your child's opinion will almost always illicit a response.
Choose something that you read in the school newsletter or saw on the news -- or better yet, ask your tween or teen about some new app or technology to initiate a discussion.
Seriously, who can resist fresh baked cookies or muffins?!
My secret weapon is popcorn -- it's not just for movie night ;)
Do Something for Someone Else
Asking your child to help you help others is a great way to open the doors of conversation -- they'll probably ask "Why me?" or "What's up?"
Sometimes kids can be very ego-centric and not realize that others around them also have challenges or have had a tough day. Knowing that they have the power to help someone else should also make them realize there are others to help them with their challenges too.
Let them Teach You
The only way I learned how to play Free Rice or understand Minecraft was to ask my kids!
They are being talked at and taught all day long -- turn the tables and allow them to teach you something for a change.
Play 20 Questions
Sometimes it's those "regular" questions that bug kids! "Mom! You always ask me what we do at recess!"
So it's time to mix things up a bit!
Try this free printable list of 20 Questions -- cut them out and have your kids choose one 'surprise' question each day. Some of the questions they will need to ask YOU to answer (so be ready :)
Surprise them with a Scavenger Hunt
Not as hard as you think -- check out our list of 12 Months of Scavenger Hunts for some easy & free ideas!
Focus on the Dog
Or the cat or snake or whatever pet you have at home -- start with a conversation about your pet's day.
"You wouldn't believe what Hobbes did today -- he knocked over the birdfeeder chasing a squirrel!"
It's an unspoken challenge to kids in a way -- they'll either ask you to tell them the whole story or try to one-up you with a crazy thing that happened at school.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Mott’s®. The opinions and text are all mine.
More Fun After School Ideas:
Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt (with free printable)