If you have kids who have gone back to school, then you know just how crazy the hours between the time they get home and bedtime can be. We call it rush hour around my home. It seems from the moment you pick them up from school it is rush, rush, rush.

Does any of this sound a little familiar? Your 6-year-old has to be at soccer practice by 4:30. Your middle school student has a project due and a band concert at 7:00. Your high school student has cheerleading practice, a mound of homework and a busy social life. On top of all of this, everyone needs to be fed dinner and do homework. How in the world is it possible to live a somewhat organized and less stress-filled life when life seems to never stop?

You can tame those afternoon and evening hours with some thoughtful planning. Here are a few easy tips to follow that will hopefully make these busy days more bearable for moms.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

We’re all coming off the lazy days of summer (for the most part) and our schedules were a little more lax. The school year is when it’s time to break out those calendars, whether it’s on paper or your favorite gadget.

At the beginning of the school year when you’re given all of those papers and calendars with different dates on them, sit down for a few minutes and record the important dates on your calendar. Do the same with your kids’ practice and game schedule. Even add the seemingly little things like early release days.

If you like to keep track of your calendar electronically, use a calendar program you can share with the entire family like the Google calendar (you can add different email addresses, allowing others to view the calendar) or Cozi, a free online calendar system made with families in mind.

If you prefer paper, have a master calendar (my favorite is Mom’s Family Calendar) posted somewhere in the home for everyone to see.

Meal Plan

There is nothing worse than coming up on that 5 o’clock hour and realizing you don’t have anything prepped for dinner Having a plan will alleviate so much stress in your life, as well as help you serve healthier meals.

Since you have your calendar all filled out with everyone’s schedules (hint, hint), look over the week on a Sunday and see what it looks like. Are there days that would be perfect for a crock pot meal? Maybe a day you’ll only be home for half an hour in between events. That’s just enough time to eat and coming home to something already made is a wonderful feeling. Are there days where it makes more sense to eat out or having one spouse bring dinner in? Write that on your plan.

Having a meal plan every week, even if you don’t cook every night, will change the way you feel about feeding your family.

Down-Time

You’re probably thinking, “Does that say down-time? What in the world is that?!” Even if it’s just 15 minutes in the car ride home, take the time to just sit with your child and ask about their day. Bring a snack if you’re on the go or sit down at the dining room table if you’ll be home.

Letting your child talk about their day, while energizing their bodies with a little snack, can make the rest of the evening go much smoother.

Do you have any tips for taming those crazy afternoons and evening hours after school? If you do, please share them with us.