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.

Biological Blessings

In 2016, my husband and I spent several months praying for God to gift us our second biological child. We have always had a heart for family and knew we longed for more biological blessings. That fall we hit a road bump in our marriage and decided it was time to stop “trying” to make our relationship more of a priority.

Shortly after, I booked a photo session with a family who’s heart was centered on missions and answering God’s call on their own lives. I went to that session anxious, as usual, hoping that I would document their family in an honest and genuine way – I’m not sure why I even worried, they were a dream to photograph! Real families with real love always are!

After that session, the parents buckled their kids in the car and asked if they could pray over me. I’ll never forget the specifics of their prayers and encouragement over me and my family. Both husband and wife seemingly knew things they shouldn’t and prayed for things I didn’t ask them to pray for, but desperately needed at the time.

We wrapped up an already impactful prayer time and they started walking back to their car… that’s when the wife turned around and gave me a strange look that said she knew something I didn’t… did I forget something? What was I missing?

“God has another baby for you, and it’s going to be a girl.” She said as she placed a gentle hand on my stomach.

As you can imagine, many thoughts flooded my mind. How could she KNOW that? A mixture of excitement, overwhelm, doubt, and tears flooded through me. Did God remember me in the midst of my heartache? Could this be an answer from The One who knows me best?

Fast forward less than two weeks later and you’d find me frantically calling my husband, sobbing uncontrollably. “Who died?!” he asked. “I know I sound sad, but I’m really happy!” I cry into the phone. “I’m pregnant! I’m actually pregnant!” 😭

Not only was the pregnancy and the encouragement my God used a stranger to lift me up in the midst of my heartache miraculous – but there would be one more moment that God forever changed the way I thought about His design for our family…

Within two weeks of reading that pee stick with two pink lines on it I became VERY sick with morning sickness. All day sickness really. At the time I had two 2yr old boys in my care and largely spent my days surviving from bed to couch to bed.

One night Zach was gone and the boys were in bed and I was lying on the couch a miserable mess…. “Name her after your grandma.” I heard it in my spirit so clearly. As you often do when the Holy Spirit speaks to you, I questioned whether it was my own mind playing tricks on me. I had only known my grandma for five short years before she passed away to breast cancer.

I immediately began to look up the meaning of the name – “Promised of God” and “God has favored me.” That certainly fit our situation. From that moment I knew the life of this child was intended by God – an unbelievable gift to steward.

On August 19th 2017, our girl was born – 8 days late – and I’ve never for a single moment doubted her place in this world. God ordained her days to be lived through these exact moments and gifted her with all the fierce independence He knows will serve His kingdom well in her generation.

My girl turns four years old today and I’ve known for a while now that the story of how she came to be needs to be documented.

God, what a gracious gift her life – and all life – is. Thank you for entrusting us with shepherding little hearts. Help us lean into Your power and strength as we guide and care for this girl in her fourth year of life. Amen.