There are a few times a day when my children are like small tornadoes circling throughout the house. It never fails that those times are usually after school, before nap time and before bedtime… Especially before bedtime. I know that it's perfectly healthy for kids to be busy, but it's also really important that I give them enough time in the day to unwind and relax.

Not only is this beneficial for their growing minds and bodies, but it also helps them lean the joy of getting lost in a good book, coloring their little hearts away or engaging in imaginative play. So, at least for these periods of time, screens are off-limits.

Here are a few screen-free ways you can help your little one unwind:

Free play: You may not think of play time as “unwinding," but it is an essential way for kids to take their minds off life—and is quite important to their ever-growing little minds. I always make sure our afternoons have plenty of time when the kids can just be kids.

Get lost in creative work: Whether it's in coloring, crafting or just in their imaginations, letting kids drift off to a state where time disappears is a wonderful way to unwind. (Especially if they felt scored for everything during the school day.) I love peeking over the top of our playroom steps and seeing my 4-year-old in his own little world.

Make it a family event: One of the best ways to help little ones unwind is to unwind with them. After dinner, I like to play a game with my oldest, take a walk around the neighborhood or throw a ball back and forth in the backyard. It helps him burn off the last bit of the day's energy and helps me to settle down for the night, too.

Extend the bedtime routine: Bedtime can be a real challenge around here. It never fails that my sweet boys seem to catch their second winds about 10 minutes before it's lights out. Setting a routine has been a lifesaver in those hours before it's time to call it a night—and I like to extend it when we really need some time to wind down. We do the three B's around here: A nice warm bath, followed by their favorite book and then bed.

Play some calming music: I find that playing soothing music during quiet time helps both of my children. Even my older son still loves a good rock-a-bye baby rendition.

Do some meditation: A few simple breathing techniques work wonders for children! I will often have mine lay down and ask them to listen to themselves breathe. A few giggles usually let loose, but after a few minutes they are relaxed and calm. I'm often amazed by how well this works!

Give them light massages: Sometimes it's tough to get those little babes down for the night, but one things that has really helped my 9-month-old is a light massage with a lavender-based lotion. Babies always seem to get excited once they get out of the bathtub and a light, warm rub gives their little bodies a calming sensation.

Giving our little ones opportunities to unwind is so important for their bodies and minds. Balance is key with kids—and encouraging these techniques can help make those difficult hours of the day easier on them and you.