Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting Through "The Witching Hour"

Please tell me we aren't the only family who deals with "The Witching Hour." Don't know what i'm talking about? It's that time of day when your kids just won't stop. They are whiny, fussy, hungry, antsy and just under foot constantly. All while you're trying to set the table and cook dinner. It starts around 4:30 in our house and lasts through dinner, sometimes all the way to bedtime.

Luckily Stephanie is pretty much over this phase, so I'm just dealing with it from one child. But oh my goodness, this boy is giving me a run for my money. He flings himself to the ground when his whining and fussing don't lead to me picking him up, then cries hysterically. Then pulls on my leg (which is extra fun when i'm wearing my stay-at-home mom staple of yoga pants that are now a size too big because I've lost some weight. I love having my pants pulled down as i'm standing in front of a window that is right next to the entrance of our building...) He also gets under foot and i'm constantly tripping over him as I try to move between the stove and counter-top.

Anyway, after dealing with this night after night I realized I needed to figure out a way to deal with it. I was miserable and when Dan came home I was snappish at him, and it just wasn't a fun way to wind down the day. I developed a few tips and tricks that don't 100% solve the problem, but they help a little!

Prepare Ahead Of Time
I use my crock-pot as much as possible during the week. I also plan meals that I can prepare at nap-time and just throw in the oven when they need to start cooking. (Meatloaf, pot-pie, meatballs, etc.) I'll also make sauce while they're napping, and cut up vegetables and toss them back in the fridge until it's time to cook them. It's much easier to cook at night when the prep is done while the kids aren't around.

I always cringe a little at myself when I give my children snacks at 5:00. I know that every "expert" tells you it's a big no-no because it ruins their appetite for dinner. But you know what? My kids are awesome eaters, and if I give them healthy snacks, then I don't care too much if they are too full to eat a complete dinner. (We'll do fruits, veggies, black beans, etc.) And yes sometimes I throw some goldfish in a bowl too. Whatever works. It keeps them occupied long enough for me to get some cooking done. (Stephanie loves to feed Joseph...she operates under the "one for Joseph, 12 for me" philosophy.)

Again, I know this is frowned upon by so many, but on a really rough evening, that TV goes on. I pop in a DVD and Stephanie will watch while she plays. If it's Baby Einstein or Elmo, it will even capture Joseph's attention for 5 minutes or so. Enough of a distraction for him to forget for a few minutes that he was whining and fussing.

If I can get Joseph to stop whining and play with a toy, I can sneak back into the kitchen to keep working for a few minutes. It doesn't last long, since he's still young and has a short attention span, but at least it's something.

And? That's all I have. This time of day is just such so stressful for me. Although I've found that these four tactics have helped me cope, I still hate feeling so fed-up every evening. Please share some of your solutions for this (or any) time of day that you find to be a challenge with your little ones!

*I can't help but think that there is no sure-fire way to end the witching hour except for simply growing out of it. Thirteen months is a really tough age for kids to entertain themselves, and I do recognize that. But it's still frustrating!*


  1. those are the same things I try - and it still is the worst hours of the day. For me, I work until about 4:30/5:00, so it sucks because the witching hour(s) are my only time with my kids on weekdays. I feel like all I do is yell and stress. I only cook on weekends lately - I make enough of a few dishes to last us the week so the only thing i need to do is cook rice or pasta or something. Once I did that, the witching hour got much better here!

  2. I've been trying to make some meals ahead too, but so far I've only pulled off two meals on a Sunday. You have some great tips!

  3. Oh I don't miss those hours at all! Do what works for you and screw what everyone else says.

  4. Oh, the witching hour. I know that well!
    Snacks are a perfect distraction. Coloring/art projects help, too!

  5. Yeah, even though I don't have kids yet, I'm pretty sure my philosophy for dealing with witching hours will be "do whatever works!" Getting dinner together is a chore even without kids being crazy!

  6. What a great list! We have witching hour every night! I know we talked about this!! It stinks but hopefully soon both kids will just chill and be happy!

  7. Awww, I so feel your pain on the witching hour. I have resorted to using the TV just so I can cook dinner some nights. It's so hard not to just shove the kids at my husband when he walks in the door, but that's EXACTLY what I feel like doing! :-)

  8. Thanks so much for the laughs! I have BEEN THERE. I so know this hour and I could have used this list five years ago! (My kids still get cranky at 5!)

  9. I have to admit, that we don't have too much of a witching hour around here. Benjamin occupies himself pretty well, so it isn't too much of a problem. But your tips are GREAT for any time when you may need to get something done and need to plan ahead. I 100% agree with you on the prep ahead thing!! SO helpful!

  10. It sounds like you're doing a great job. I don't have any advice because since the time change, my kids want to go to bed as SOON as it gets dark out and I have no clue what to do. Thanks for the tips!

  11. We have an ipad and G uses that from 4-5 while I cook. Otherwise, she is a mad woman. TV does not keep her attention so thank goodness we have this thing!


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