Striving to Balance Homework and ‘Witching’ Hour…

Posted by on February 19, 2015

“LIFE isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to DANCE in the rain.”

Vivian Greene


Negotiating an appropriate and calm time-slot for homework to be completed after school, is no mean feat. When the topic of starting homework comes up in our household, the family room turns into a battle ground of resistance and frustration. Time to gather some outside advice (another guest post coming up) on how to turn these unproductive outbursts around and create a positive learning routine.

The first light bulb moment occurred while attending a Resilience Information Night featuring Professor Paula Barrett, an internationally acclaimed Child Physiologist. It proved to be time well invested as the next couple of hours were spent listening to practical, well researched advice. Professor Barrett talked about ways to build emotional and social skills in our children, as well as resilience strategies to support them during times of worry and/or stress. Those interested can read a summary (written by a more efficient note taker than me) from a similar Resilience Workshop presented by Professor Barrett here.

In regards to Establishing Homework Routines, Professor Barrett spoke about the importance of:

  • Fun time after school (ideally connecting to nature)
  • Having a tummy full of wholesome food to assist with concentration
  • The calming effects of water – a shower/bath before homework would be ideal

We were doing Homework straight after school before any of those things happened. The old get-it-out-of-the-way trick – no wonder we were having trouble.

During further conversations (on the topic of homework) within my network of friends, I discovered a Mum who was successfully implementing this routine in her home. Her advice to me was to consider reversing the afternoon routine which we had established and see if had a positive impact.

This advice was a game changer!

Today she shares her routine and ideas in the hope that those of you who are also struggling with after school commitments, will come across that one little ‘tweak’ which assists you to Stay Calm and get this Homework Done!

CWMS is proud to introduce this weeks Guest Writer who retired from her full time role in Childcare to be at home for their three gorgeous girls (7, 4 and 2 years old). Her most recent accomplishment is staying sane while overseeing the successful renovation of their family home and convincing her husband of the advantages of adopting a little puppy.

I’m not saying I’m a slow learner, bit it took me almost two years to figure out that the following routine works best for our household – maybe it could work for yours too?!

When my children get home from school/kindy they are STARVING!! So, I give them something to eat and let them cool their jets – doing whatever it is they please (I would love to say they always choose to sit and read, but I’ll be honest and admit the TV or iPad pretty much trumps a book most days!) I don’t mind though as it gives them a chance to unwind and relax while I get dinner ready.

I give my children dinner really early. Like, we’re talking boarding school or aged care facility early, usually around 5pm (though I have been known to serve up at 4.30pm if I can see a touch of the “hangries” happening!)
I figure, they need to eat – so instead of snacking why not give them dinner if it’s ready? Then if they’re hungry again later they can have a piece of fruit or something.

After dinner, they are again allowed to have some free time doing an activity of their choice while I clean up the kitchen and make the lunches for the next day.
Once I’ve completely finished tidying up they then go and have a bath or shower. I sit in the bathroom with them and chat about their day (or break up arguments and stop them flooding the bathroom) feeling so organised and loving life because I know a clean kitchen is going to greet me when I walk out (it’s the little things!)

After bath/shower there are no “devices” allowed – no TV, iPads etc. My younger two play barbies or colour in while my oldest sits down to do her homework in a quiet(ish) house with a full tummy, feeling clean and relaxed after a bit of water therapy! I can give her my full attention if she needs it, because I’m feeling like I’ve nailed this whole motherhood thing as my kitchen is already cleaned up! (again, it’s the little things!)

The best thing is, because we had dinner so freaking early, it’s usually only about 6pm by the time all of the above is done and dusted (unless my four year old has decided to eat dinner in slow motion which does occasionally happen – once we pass the 30 minute mark I set the timer, but that’s a story for another day 🙂

P.S. A downside to this routine is that we don’t get to eat as a family from Monday – Thursday (my husband gets home too late), but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to keep the afternoon/evening as pleasant as possible! We have our ‘family dinners’ on the weekend 🙂


The focus of last year was Striving for Balance and by reversing our end of day routine, our house fell into a comfortable flow. It took some ‘tweaking’ and not every afternoon went exactly as planned, however, we established a pattern which suited everyone involved.

Taking the time to get it right has been highly recommended…

Tasks are easiest to accomplish when tied to specific routines. By establishing daily routines for homework completion, you will not only make homework go more smoothly, but you will also be fostering a sense of order your child can apply to later life, including college and work.


Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP, Homework: A Guide for Parents


This year is a new year and our Little Man is adjusting to a change of Schools, a new Teacher as well as moving up to Grade Two. Homework has once again begun and therefore it is time to settle into the ‘school afternoon’ regime.

After last years trial and error we are relieved our Little Man is more than happy (at this stage) to continue with where we left off with last years groove – phew! So lets see how we go…

Join the conversation

There are so many variations to everyday family life and routine and just as many ideas around co-ordinating the activities and commitments of ourselves and our children. At Grade Two we are only at the beginning of our journey and am keen to hear about your successes.

How does your Family fit Homework into the afternoon routine – or maybe you find the concentration is better in the mornings?

Lets talk about it!

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– Shea

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