Restraint Collapse and Tips to Wind Down After School 🌀🍏🌪🌚📚🖍💢

Ever heard of it? It’s that thing that happens when your kid has held it all together all day until they walk in your front door and then it’s full on meltdown mode. Within minutes your loving child is near tantrum level with you, their siblings, and everything surrounding them.

Towards the end of the last year my oldest was wrapping up his first year of Kindergarten and I realized that this was so much more than just a behavioral struggle or a lack of sleep. I did some searching and quickly discovered that a little attention to detail in this area goes a LONG way for my kids. I researched my brains out on this psychological defense (thank you, psych major in college!)

What I learned? Honestly, this is a situation that plays out for more than just school-aged kids. It can happen after daycare, social events, family gatherings, and many more for human beings of ALL ages! As an adult, I even experience this at different times after being “on” for several hours. After multiple social functions and commitments during the week there’s a huge emotional letdown when it comes time to go home.

As a parent, co-regulating our kids is a huge part of our job description. I’m not the best at it – but this is one way I have started to be more intentional and teach them ways to care for themselves and their bodies as they grow more independent. Here are some of the ways I try to teach them to cope and avoid the after school meltdown…

  1. Meet their emotional needs….

💜 Get on their level and affirm them, example: “I missed you so much today!”

💙 This one I often forget in the welcome home rush – but it’s SO important! If you forget this one – go back and re-do by getting their attention and making sure they hear the affirmation.

  1. Meet their physical needs…

💚 Give them water and a healthy snack.

💛 We keep a snack basket on the counter that I can easily grab and put out for them to choose their snack for the afternoon. Nothing too big so they’re still hungry for dinner, but a little something to give them some energy back.

  1. Meet their mental/spiritual needs…

🧡 Send them to a quiet space with calming worship music to decompress and ground themselves for 15-20mins.

❤️ Some of my kids ask to stay longer! Some can barely stay put that long 😅 but in general we make 15mins the minimum amount of time they need to stay in their quiet space for their sake and others 🤪

✨ Things we keep in each kid’s quiet space ✨

  • Books
  • Stuffies
  • Legos, Blocks, or Magnatiles
  • Sensory books (to ground them)
  • A diffuser or roll-on oil blend
  • A small speaker to listen to worship music or the Bible on the dwell app (which I HIGHLY recommend)

🌿 Our favorite oils to diffuse and keep on hand for quiet time 🌿

  • Stress Away
  • Peace & Calming II
  • Kid Power
  • Lemon & Lavender
    **If you’re looking to add any of these to your toolbox for dealing with after school collapse – find them HERE.

6 things to do when you’re feeling triggered…

You can’t conquer what you refuse to confront.

I was sitting in a car with my family headed to the pool. Everyone was riding pleasantly and I was scrolling through social media – as you do 😅 – when suddenly, someone’s story popped up and bam!💥 I was instantly triggered. It was such an unsuspecting post. Most would have looked at it and thought it was funny – no big deal – not overly interesting at all. But for me, two simple words was all it took to send me into a full blown panic.

My trigger tactics to date have been miserable at best. Looking back over the last decade, if some kind of panic arose in my spirit I would often avoid or fill the gap with something else. Distraction is the most prevalent method of managing a stressor or trigger in our society today. Feeling anxious? Watch tv. Scroll social media. Flood your mind with reels and tik toks and memes to make you laugh. These aren’t inherently bad – but they aren’t helpful in conquering that mountain of healing we’re all storing up for ourselves by avoiding the hard places God so desperately wants to heal for us!

Healing takes time and attention.

A huge lesson I learned last year is that healing takes time and attention. I can’t go on avoiding hard things – as much as I’d like to – because it doesn’t make me a healthier person, it actually makes me a more anxious person. When something is triggering you, frequently: take a moment to address it. If you’re not in a place or space to do that, then SCHEDULE a time to process it. Make an effort to schedule even just 15minutes at a later time. I promise, some of its power will be taken out of the fact that you’re being intentional to address the conflict in your heart rather than it catching you by surprise.

It will take much more energy to avoid processing the trigger than it will to actually address and process it.

If you take one thing away from this, I hope it’s this: it will take much more energy to avoid processing the trigger than it will to actually address and process it. Your body WILL keep track of the trigger and store it in unhealthy ways. Schedule time to process it with the Lord, with a trusted mentor or friend, or a professional counselor. Healing is coming, friend, and you CAN do hard things. Even this hard thing.