Surviving The After School Slump

January 18, 2022

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Does your child’s teacher report a sweet and regulated student at school, but what you’re seeing after school is anything but? You are NOT alone!


So, what gives?

Our kids with ADHD work hard ALL DAY at school to hold it together.

And when they get home, they often have nothing left to give, and you’re left to deal with the fallout resulting from the exhaustion and overwhelm.

Remember, you are your child’s safe place… they feel safe to release all the built-up stress and exhaustion from the school day. And this is why we call it the “after-school slump”.

So… How can I help with the after-school slump?

Help your child get through that after-school slump by keeping these five keys in mind:

  1. Take a moment for movement. After a long day at school, give your child some opportunities to burn through the extra energy. This does NOT need to cost you lots of money or extra driving to activities! Just some time in the backyard or on a small trampoline can help reset your child’s system so they can regulate before doing “boring” tasks like homework or the bedtime routine.

2. Address any nutrition needs. Make sure that your child can have a snack and something to drink after school. Their energy tank may be running low… and some children with ADHD don’t notice when they are hungry or thirsty! By building this into a routine, you can make sure their needs are met before jumping into the next activity.

3. Give them a brain break. Raise your hand if you ever get into your car to drive home at the end of a long day and you just want quiet. No music, no podcast… just glorious silence for a few minutes. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much STUFF we process all day. Noises, social interactions, etc… can be overwhelming, even for an adult! Give your child some “downtime” to decompress and let their brain rest a little. This may look different for each child. One of my children takes brain breaks by swinging around and around on her gymnastics bar, while my other child will sit quietly with Play-Doh or another manipulative for a few minutes. Understanding what works best for your family may take a little detective work!

Mindfulness helps… for you and your child!

4. Observe a mindful minute. This is a more structured approach to the brain break. You can use apps such as Headspace or a free meditation on Youtube to give your child a structured meditation or “mindful minute” to calm and center. We love Cosmic Kids Yoga (also free on Youtube) and Zenimals meditation tool. (Note: This is not sponsored, just tools we use with our children!) For other relaxation ideas, check out our FREE Relaxation Guide.

5. Consider your parent presence. No judgment here! But something to consider: how regulated are you after school? As the parent, your presence sets the tone for your children. Notice what works (and what doesn’t work for you!) and problem-solve from there. Does the stress of the school pickup line put you in a bad mood? Maybe find a funny podcast that you enjoy, which you can listen to when you are waiting. Are you always arguing with your child about what snacks they can/cannot have? Try a snack basket filled with “approved” snacks, and let each child choose from those options.

We want to hear from you!

Please share with us… what works for you in surviving the after school slump? Let us know in the comments! And if you are looking for more simple, science-backed tools to support you as you parent your child with ADHD, check out our online course, Creating Calm.

We also have a printable shop filled with beautiful, customizable routines that you can use for those challenging after school hours. With these visuals, you can increase your child’s independence, grow their executive function, and reduce the number of reminders… a win-win for everyone. 

Have a beautiful week!

Katie, Lori, and Mallory


Disclaimer: The contents of this site are opinions of The Childhood Collective PLLC partners unless otherwise noted. The information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any type of medical condition and is not intended as personalized medical/psychological advice. Any decision you make regarding you and your family’s health and medical treatments should be made with a qualified healthcare provider.

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  1. Ansley Martin says:

    I have learned that consistency is key for my son with ADHD. Some moms can do random errands after school, or play dates on the fly etc, but we veer from the normal routine or plan, he doesn’t handle it well. Snacks are a must. And I call it “veg” time, where he can just chill and rest for a minute when we get home and watch a show. Then I try to get everyone moving again with bikes or scooters before dinner routine starts. It’s hard though!

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We are two child psychologists and a speech language pathologist. But most importantly, we are mamas, just like you.

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