Most parents would probably agree that the most stressful time in households with young children is dinnertime to bedtime. The “witching hour” is what some people call it. That can seem like a harsh term, but moms who are trying to cook dinner with toddlers pulling at their pants wanting to be held or babies crying wanting to be nursed understand the phrase perfectly! Around 5:00, young kids are tired, cranky and on the verge of losing it. Routine is key to surviving until bedtime. Here are a 5 steps to surviving the witching hour and to help you establish a routine:
1. Make dinner ahead of time.
Try to make dinner earlier in the day, either during naptime or during a more peaceful time when the kids are awake. I find that making dinner (or at least prepping for dinner) when my 2- and 3-year-old daughters are eating breakfast is a great time for us. It’ the beginning of the day and they’re well-rested, which gives me time to prepare for the evening.
2. Get outside.
Go for walks or play in the backyard if the weather is nice. Being outside makes everything better!
3. Watch TV.
If the weather isn’t great, turn on the TV and let the kids enjoy some downtime after a long day. If you haven’t had a chance to cook dinner yet, this may buy you some time to do so.
4. Run a bath early.
There’s something about playing in the water that can turn a child’s mood around almost instantly. If the kids are cranky after naptime or after school, try giving them a bath. That will make the bedtime routine easier for you too!
5. Feed the kids earlier.
We try to wait for my husband to get home to eat, but sometimes my girls are too hungry to wait. Feeding your kids earlier may result in their being less cranky, and it could also give you a chance to eat dinner with your spouse in peace after the kids go down!
Try a few of these ideas and see what works for you and your family.