Some friends recently reminded me of a site that houses some awesome Christian missionary music, saying that their kids really love it. I’m placing it in this list amongst some other ideas for wholesome ways to get through the witching hour, which in our home can happen at any time, but most often it’s the 2 hours before Daddy gets home which feels like 5 hours. I think you know what I mean. I’m doing this to remind myself of the options. It may assist others as well! Please leave a comment with your suggestions.
0) Dinner Prep during nap time:
Okay, fine, too much? So you don’t have to cook the whole dinner, just prep it up to the cooking stage. Okay, if that’s too much just chop the veggies during naps. Okay, let’s whittle this down to something manageable. How about just get the ingredients out, ready to go? No, okay, then at least think – just think – about what you’ll be serving for dinner.
I’ve tried it all, and it’s really true for us that if I don’t at least think about what we’re going to have, the witching hour is 10x worse. Know that this is possible to do even though both kids are rarely napping at the same time, and when they are, I need, for health reasons, to prioritize eating lunch. That said, knowing the menu before both wake up goes a long way towards peace.
1) Music. Especially calm and/or uplifting music as is found here:
- MissionaryMusic.org. It auto plays, even from my phone, and I can pause it without signing in!
- Don’t hesitate to pull out some oldies but goodies from your single days. I’ve not taken the time to update my ipod since long before having kids, but I have a playlist from back then called “RIGHTEOUS!” (please, this song list title must be exclaimed like the little surfer dude turtle that helps Nemo and Dory in the EAC in the Movie Finding Nemo.) Both kids seem calmer when we have it on as background music
- YouTube.com: If you subscribe to a channel or link in to a play list, I believe it auto-plays. Just turn the screen around if you don’t want your kids’ brains to rot.
- Pandora.com. I started a “relaxing” station with David Lanz, a pianist, as the seed.
2) Books. Turn off the burner on the dinner that may not – okay, won’t – get completed until Daddy gets home and focus on some snuggle/reading time. If it’s necessary to make up the time lost by doing this, delete one book from bedtime.
3) Food. Feed the toddlers. They can’t wine as well with food in their mouths, and our toddler is often hungry for dinner long before we are. If this “ruins their dinner”, tell yourself that actually, you planned it this way. They had their own dinner early so that you and your husband and anyone else in the house who exhibits better sanity could have a peaceful meal.
4) Food watching. Have them watch/help make dinner. This can be as simple as talking to them about what you are doing and having them close the refrigerator for you. We have yet to master this as a long term distraction from The Grumpies, but it’s on our to do list.
5) Fake food. I’ve always wanted to put the play kitchen in the real kitchen so that they can imitate. And I’ve always wanted to have less clutter on our main floor. Play food is so clutter-full! So it remains in the basement. But I still have big plans for how well this idea will work at some shady future date.
6) Lights: Even in late spring, the gloom of the late afternoon makes the house much darker than the outdoors, and can have an effect on moods. Turn ’em on.
4) Mister Rogers Neighborhood: episodes are free on YouTube.com. Okay, so screen time is not exactly the most wholesome thing for my kids, but sometimes they need to be both contained and entertained, and Mister Rogers seems, so far, to educate them without causing brain rot or ADD. Also, this doesn’t involve food! (I’m noticing that my penchant for using food as a calming mechanism may be rubbing off on my kids. Several pounds later we may regret this…)
“6th and lastly” (name that movie). Power through. Talk to them about “Mommy wants calm because no one likes to hear that whining and she needs calm so that we can make dinner so that we can eat dinner when Daddy gets home won’t that be fun?!” Stuff like that. Then, “You want to have fun and play with your toys, right? Are you getting anything out of yelling right now?” Sometimes they just need some help thinking/talking through what they’re going through. Even if it doesn’t work, take a deep breath and continue dinner prep. IE: Make food.
“And, to conclude” (name that movie) Go outside. Hey, another one that doesn’t involve food! Good for you! Removal from the house can dissipate negative energy for all.
7) Phoning loved ones. We’ve called Grandma, a favorite Honorary Auntie, and an actual uncle. Just say hi. If they have time, talk about what you did that day.
8) “ETA?”: you’ve already looked at the clock 20 times since 3pm, despite not having any time to look at the clock before 3pm. You’re desperate to know for how much longer you need to hold out. Text Daddy and ask when he’ll be home. Then take a deep breath, and go through this list until then.
Good luck to all of us,
PS: I realize my numbering is off. At some unknown time, I’ll tell you about what it’s like to be a Random Abstract. Then you will understand.