*Entenmann’s® Little Bites® provided coupons & a gift card so that I could try the product and share my thoughts and information about the product. All opinions and ideas are my own.

If back to school season is totally stressing out your kids, I've got a few ideas for helping them decompress and de-stress after a long day in the classroom. Check them out!

If back to school season is totally stressing out your kids, I’ve got a few ideas for helping them decompress and de-stress after a long day in the classroom. Plus, keep reading for a chance to win a $25 Visa Gift Card & coupons for free Entenmann’s Little Bites!

How to help kids de-stress & decompress after school

I want you to do something for me. Imagine that you work a full-time job  with a break schedule that, in all honestly, violates multiple labor laws. Oh, and you have to take your work home with you every night, weekend, and vacation. If you don’t get it done because five “bosses” each gave you an hour’s worth of extra work and you decided that sleep and eating mattered, too, you’ll lose points on your work evaluation or even get in trouble and have to stay at work longer for a few days. Oh, and you don’t get paid.

That is what school is like for our kids. It’s no wonder an estimated 31% of adolescents suffer from anxiety disorders. So, you can see why it’s important to help them find ways to decompress and de-stress once their feet hit the pavement at their bus stop in the afternoon. We may not be able to change the way schools do things (although we should definitely speak up and try) but we can change the way we do things at home to make things easier on them. Read on for what’s worked for me over the years with my son (who, gasp, just started high school this year!).

1. Let them know you don’t expect perfection

I know way too many parents who punish their kids for low grades, taking away what little free after-school time they have and exchanging it with yet more work that ends up frustrating them.  Kids are under enough pressure from their teachers, school district and themselves. They don’t need added pressure from us.

I let Jake know upfront before the year even began that I don’t expect him to get an A in every single class. I’m not good at every subject, so why should I expect my son to be? He’s having a hard time with math right now. I let him know that I passed Algebra by the proverbial skin of my teeth and that I won’t be disappointed in the slightest bit if he ends up doing the same. I want him to try and to do his best, but if his best is “barely passing” even with help (like a tutor, because I certainly can’t teach him algebra) so be it.

2. Give them as much autonomy as possible

From K-12, our kids have very little autonomy throughout the school day. They’re told where to go, when to go there, how fast they have to walk to get there between bells, where to sit, what to wear, when they can eat, what they can eat, when they can get a drink, when they can use the bathroom, when to speak, what they’re allowed to say, what to read, when they have to read it by, what to write, how to write…everything short of how to think & feel, and even that’s debatable.

If back to school season is totally stressing out your kids, I've got a few ideas for helping them decompress and de-stress after a long day in the classroom. Check them out!

So, when my son’s at home, I try to give him as many choices and as much autonomy as possible. He picks out his own snacks (he loves Entenmann’s Little Bites, obviously, which is why I partner with them so often), chooses his own comfy clothes, decides when to do his homework (however, he does have to actually get it done), and determines his own bed time.

Now, my son is 14, so I understand that some of those things may not be feasible for all kids. For example, you’re probably not going to let your 1st-grader determine his bedtime! If I let Jake decide at that age, he would have been up until midnight. Still, you want to give them as many choices as possible. If Entenmann’s Little Bites are one of those choices, at least you know they’re picking out something that has no high fructose corn syrup and zero grams of trans fat per serving! Win-win!

3. Ask the right questions (& make good mental notes of the answers)

When Jake was little, I often made the mistake of asking “how was school today?” The answer was almost always a 1-word response: fine or good. So I’d ask, “what did you do at school today?” That usually got me a “nothing” response. Really? You did “nothing” for 7 hours??? Of course he didn’t, but put on the spot, he couldn’t think of a single thing worth mentioning.

Now I ask more specific questions like:

  • What topics did you go over in science/math/English class today? (Ask each one individually, otherwise you get the dreaded “nothing” answer)
  • Did your video game design teacher get your login issue resolved? (Real example of a super specific question I asked Jake last week)
  • What games did you do in gym class today? Was it fun?
  • What did you have for lunch? 

I also pay close attention to the answers so I can ask follow-up questions the next day. I think too often we parents ask the questions we think we should be asking, but kind of tune out a bit on the answers. We don’t mean to. Like our kids, we’re overwhelmed and over-stressed, so we ask “how was your day?” then start thinking about how our own day was and miss the part where our kids are using teen code for “not so great.”

4. Make “free time” a priority

Free time and fun shouldn’t be a luxury or a special reward for kids, it should be a part of their everyday life. Honestly, it should be a part of your everyday life, too, but at least you have a choice about what to do with your time. It may be a choice between “have fun” or “pay the rent,” but it’s a choice. Going back to giving kids autonomy, make sure you schedule some free time into their schedule and let them decide what to do with it. After all, it’s not really “free time” if you decide what activities they have to fill it with, now is it?

5. Give them something to look forward to

Getting through a rough (or even just a boring) day is a lot easier when you know that something fun is waiting for you at the end, right? Put a proverbial light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel for your kids by making it a point to surprise them regularly.

If back to school season is totally stressing out your kids, I've got a few ideas for helping them decompress and de-stress after a long day in the classroom. Check them out!

You don’t have to go crazy here with expensive new toys and games, random trips to Disney World, or anything quite so monumental. Even a little surprise- like welcoming them home with a pouch of Little Bites, a glass of milk, and their favorite show queued up on the TV- helps break the monotony of “wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, eat dinner, go to bed, wake up, do it all over again.”

Speaking of surprises, I’ve got one just for you! Of course, you can also share it with your kids. 😀 Keep reading to learn a bit more about why we love Entenmann’s Little Bites so much, then enter for a chance to win a Visa gift card & coupons for Little Bites!

Back to School with Entenmann’s Little Bites Snacks {Giveaway}

5 Ways to Help Kids Decompress & De-Stress After School (+ $25 Visa Gift Card Giveaway)

On any given day, you’ll find at least one box (and usually more) of Entenmann’s Little Bites in our pantry. We always have their Chocolate Chip and/or the Fudge Brownies Bites, since those are Jake’s favorites. I sometimes grab the Party Cake, Blueberry, or (when it’s in season) Pumpkin Bites for myself. They’re yummy, convenient, totally portable and perfectly pre-portioned. Plus, in addition to being free of HFCS and trans fat, they use real ingredients (like berries and bananas).


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Now the really fun part! Enter below for a chance to win a 25 Visa digital gift card and (3) coupons for $5.00 off the purchase of any Entenmann’s Little Bites snacks! Giveaway is open to US residents age 18+ and ends on September 23rd (I know it’s shorter than my usual giveaways, but I have to have the winner’s name in by the 25th, so pay attention to your email on the 24th just in case you’re the lucky winner). Good luck!

Entenmann’s Little Bites Back to School Giveaway