This is an old Facebook post which was one of my most popular ever, so I'm re-running it, but some of our circumstances have changed. I'll add those in a comment at the end.
Living with anxiety is exhausting, especially for young children who are already exhausted after a day at school anyway. The nature of SM means that children rarely show their feelings during the school day, so what is bottled up tends to come tumbling out when they get home.
Dinner is always late in our house because it takes at least an hour and a half before I can even think about making dinner.
Here are a few things that have helped us to cope with the inevitable after school meltdowns. Every child is different so they may not work for your family. I keep saying 'she' and 'her' instead of 'they' because my big one is now fine and transitions smoothly between school and home. My little one also has epilepsy which affects the quality of her sleep, so for her, even though she is over the worst of the SM, I still anticipate having these problems until she (hopefully) grows out of her epilepsy.
* I've given up asking questions or making conversation in the car on the way home. My daughter prefers silence and if I talk to her before she has 'decompressed' it just causes arguments. The bad mood often then starts before we even get home!
* Even though I'm desperate to know how her day went I usually save the questions until after dinner as she seems to have recovered by then. I also ask questions in a round about way so it's not obvious that I am anxious about her anxiety!
* The first thing we do when we get in is sit down and snuggle together while she eats anything that is left in her lunch box. I usually put in more than she needs so that it is right there ready and then we don't have to wait for me to make a snack.
* Protein & fat will stabilise blood sugar and mood after school much better than carbohydrates.
* I make sure she's drunk all of her water from her water bottle and then refill.
* Going to the toilet is not optional after school. I enforce a 5 minute sit at least. Then another one after dinner. This is because SM kids often won't poo at school, some won't even wee and/or have accidents. You don't need constipation as well as everything else.
* I find that going in the bath before dinner seems to wake her up and snap her out of her funk. Mood can change instantly after a bath it seems. If she is having a meltdown where we can't even manage a cuddle & snack then it's straight into the bath and eat in the bath!
*Once she is in her PJs, depending on mood - she might play outside or read or watch TV. If I'm expecting her to do any kind of chores like unpacking her bag, putting her shoes away, putting her school uniform in the wash basket and feeding the pets, then I don't allow any TV until those are done.
* That takes us though to dinner, shortly followed by bed.
* If we are having difficult behaviour even after getting into PJs then I might encourage a quiet time in her room listening to an audio book or meditation, more snuggling with me, more snacks or just ignoring her.
* If things are really bad then I initiate a 'Code Blue' which is get ready for bed immediately upon coming home from school, scrambled egg or beans on toast for tea, a long story and wind down with Mum, then in bed by 6.30/45 pm
* The only thing that has speeded up our evening routine is I have made a laminated list of after school jobs and I expect her to do all or some of it on the days when she is not too tired. Then I can get on with dinner sooner. More often than not she is too tired to do much. I know for most kids it's pretty basic to at least unpack your school bag but I don't worry too much if she doesn't do it, as long as she knows how to be independent on the good days.
* Young kids with SM will probably be too anxious to be picked up at the gate (kiss n drop - or whatever it's called at your school) but if Yr 1s and above are able to work up to it, if you have a drive by pick up area at your school, then oddly this has worked really well for us. My little one is not anxious about it because her big sister picks up her up from her class and walks her over to the gate. I used to find that the walk from the classroom to the car (which is quite long and busy at our school) was the time when the worst meltdowns began. The heat (or rain), the crowds, the noise, the heavy bag and the chance to push back against Mum were just too much for her. Walking to the gate is way less stressful for her and she gets to decompress in the shade with her sister & friends for 15 minutes after school. Obviously as a parent of an SM child you can't do that every day as you want to keep an open line of communication with the teacher, but I find that only going in when I have a meeting reduces my frustration too at the amount of time I spend at school ( which is a lot with mornings, meetings and facilitating her support work).
Hope that helps some people!
Update: 02 May 2017 - after school behaviour is much improved in our house, but there are still bad days, weeks and months! Completion of the after school list is gradually improving. We now have a puppy and I try whenever possible to bring him on the school run with me. Having him sitting next to her in the car definitely lowers my daughter's anxiety / overwhelm before and after school. In the winter I find that it is waking up which is more problematic than after school. During terms 2 & 3 we get up half an hour earlier and the girls have their bath then. The bath is already run and the fire is on with their school uniform laid out in front of it before I wake them up. It's a much nicer way to ease into a winter morning and seems to reduce the amount of GET READY shouting from me!