NPR explores what happens between school and bedtime


How often does your dinnertime looks like this fantasyland? Photo: More Good Foundation. Some rights reserved.

NPR's new 8-part series about "crunch time", the time between when kids get home from school and when they get to bed, should spark a great conversation about how we help our children eat and exercise right.  We hope you'll chime in here on The Dirt.

NPR commissioned a poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health about what happens during crunch time and how parents feel about it.  What's fascinating is that a vast majority of parents know what  should happen – their children should eat a healthy dinner and get some exercise.  But they cop to what actually happens, and it can be heartbreaking:

More than half of children ate or drank something during the "crunch time" window that can lead to unhealthy weight gain, as perceived by their parents. And more than a quarter of children did not get enough exercise, their parents say.


"It's hard enough to get dinner on the table while trying to help them with homework," says Paige Pavlik of Raleigh, N.C. "Once we do everything, there is absolutely no time to go outside and take a walk or get any exercise. It's simply come in, eat, sit down, do homework, go to bed."


The relentlessness of it makes her emotional. Pavlik starts to cry as she talked about her family's daily crunch time. "It's really hard," she says. "This isn't how I thought family life was going to be."

My family spends a lot of time cooking dinner.  In fact, it's really our form of entertainment for the early evening.  It's what we do during crunch time.  But as our daughter gets older, I can see that time getting tighter and tighter.

Nutritionists are devising ways to help families eat healthier, more quickly.  Re-packaging healthy food is one way.  Magazines like Eating Well make recipes with tons of shortcuts and quick (less than 30 minutes) healthy dinners.

We'd love to spark a discussion here on The Dirt about crunch time, and maybe share tips for survival and, even better, thriving.  What is your life like during crunch time?  What tips do you have?  Or questions for others?  Post below and we'll try to keep the conversation going in a future post.

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One Comment

  1. Well here's how it USED to be and then I will give you the here and now. I used to come home, go play, everybody wss outside. Nobody was going to "get" you, no cares, no worries, had to come in when the street lights came on, but rebel genes run in the family, so of course we never did. Now, after school "activities" also known as FREE BABY SITTING SERVICES" except they're really not free, they are paid by your SCHOOL TAXES. Sometimes a movie, computers!!!! homework, what fun! Sometimes a parent or grandparent or "other" picks you up, or maybe you play sports until 7,8,9 and so your family? Forget your family, you are now raised by the state. Just ask any teacher, we see it day in and day out.