One of the unexpected downsides I found with our treat plan earlier in the year was how much I missed surprising the kids with chocolate chip cookies or other treats for after school snacks. For one, I often remember the advice I heard from a Mom of boys: "If you feed them, they will come" And somehow (no matter how delicious I think they are), I don't think she was talking about spinach smoothies or carrot sticks with hummus ;)
We've still been following our treat plan - generally. It doesn't come up very often really, and every once in a while we break the rules and don't worry about it. Sometimes though I feel like, wouldn't it just be more wonderful to have a warm plate of cookies always waiting on the counter? But more often I feel like I want to help my kids be healthy and strong and have good habits of eating delicious, nutritious foods...
Either way, I do love this after school snack time and want it to be a happy few minutes of welcome home, so I'm still working on figuring things out for after school snacks, but here's what I've found so far:
Serving a regular old snack in a new or fancy way helps me (and the kids) feel like this is something special. Yesterday, we had crackers and cheese and apples but I put all the options in a little veggie tray w/ tiny little toothpick signs and suddenly it was fancy and fun (plus the "Dove Chocolate, please take 1" probably added to the fun... see? Sweets still mean yay! look at this fun surprise... hmm.)
Having a snack where the kids are helping to prepare a little bit means they'll stay a little bit longer and maybe share a little more about their days before they're ready to be off to the next thing. We tried out this idea from Design Mom and the kids loved it. Another favorite that we've repeated already was a yogurt bar with some fresh fruits and granola and cereal for the kids to all make their own special yogurt.