5 Ways to Survive Your Child's Witching Hour
Regardless of what you call it, there seems to be a crazed time of the day, usually between the hours of 4pm and 6pm, when most babies and young children fall apart. Whether you’re a working or stay-at-home parent, Mighty Mommy's 5 tips will help you not only survive, but even thrive during the dreaded witching hour.
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Tip #3: Create a Family Happy Hour
One of the biggest reasons my kids get cranky late in the day is because they are hungry. Dinner in our house is usually at 6pm which leaves a good gap from when they get home from school and have a snack until they actually sit down and eat. When my oldest kids were toddlers, I created our “Family Happy Hour.” No, I wasn’t serving martinis at the kitchen island, but I did try to create a similar atmosphere to a cocktail hour where we adults unwind with appetizers and soothing drinks.
The key was to change our regular snacks and juice to something fun and party-like. I would go to the dollar store or a party store and stock up on fun paper and plastic cups, straws, cocktail napkins, and themed paper plates and would serve their juice or chocolate milk (sometimes I even made frozen fruit slushies) and appetizers like baby carrots and hummus or ham and cheese roll ups in the party cups and plates. They would giggle and go right along with it as though they were having a night on the town.
Fifteen years later we still have a family happy hour on a regular basis and play great music, drink out of fancy glassware, and unwind before homework and dinner take place.
Tip #4: Plan Stimulating Activities
As much as I’d like to suggest having activities like crayons, puzzles, and books on hand to quietly engage your child as the dinner hour approaches, the majority of kids need to (and should) burn some of their pent-up energy during this time of the day. After years of trying to keep the insanity at bay, my motto finally became “If you can’t beat them, join them” so I looked for ways to encourage their liveliness and would participate with them whenever possible. Not only did my kids love running around, it gave me a mini workout several times a week as well. Here are a few suggestions:
Get outside and walk the baby in the stroller or let your kids play outside before dinner, even if it’s in the dark with the porch light on.
Play an action-packed game of Simon Says or Tag.
Play Hide and Seek indoors while dinner is cooking.
Play Beat the Clock. Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and see how fast your kids can pick up their toys, clothes, and other items that they’ve been playing with all day. Turn this into a contest amongst siblings and give out little prizes for winners.
Take the dog for a walk every day before dinner and try to find something with every letter in the alphabet along the way.
Grab some chalk and get creative in your driveway.
Tip #5: Reward Yourself
When all else failed and nothing I did could calm my kids at the end of a long day, instead of flying off on my broomstick I rewarded myself with something special, just for me, from my secret hiding place. For years I’ve kept a stash of my favorite things in a special box in my closet. It contains indulgences like chocolate, herbal tea, luxurious bubble bath, even wine.
I’ve even bought fun things, wrapped them, and put them in my stash drawer so I can be surprised when I open them months later! Whatever it is that makes you happy, treat yourself to something when you feel like you need to cast a spell to survive those difficult witching hours.
See also: 8 Best Kept Motherhood Secrets
Do you struggle during the witching hour? What strategies work for your family? Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at email@example.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.
Not every part of your parenting day is going to be easy, but if you have a few strategies in place for those rough times, you'll be creating a fun and loving environment for your entire family to enjoy. Until next time---Happy Parenting!