kids tantrums during witching hours

3 Ways to Cope with The Witching Hour

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Getting Through Your Kids Witching Hour Every Day

I have no proof of this, but I swear the evening cocktail hour was invented by parents of young children. Any parent with a young child knows that there is a certain time of day in the late afternoon and early evening where little kids become monsters. Actual monsters. It’s sometimes called the witching hour. And a drink starts to sound pretty good about then.

In my house, this usually happens around 4 pm. By 4 pm, the kids and I are sick of each other. Sick of being in the house. Hungry, tired, and cranky.

Around that time I just want to collapse into a chair and watch TV with a snack. Or stare into space without having to answer any questions, break up any fights, hold or feed anyone, or listen to one more whine, complaint, or scream from my kids. Naturally, this is the time they decide to erupt with all of these things.

I know I’m not alone. I’ve talked to other moms. It’s some kind of agreement the kids have or maybe a werewolf like curse that strikes all kids in the late afternoon and early evening.

If your kids suffer from this afternoon-ruining affliction, I’ve gathered a few ideas for how to cope.

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How to Survive The Witching Hour

This is not about winning Mother of the Year Awards, ladies. These tips are about survival mode.

1. Go Outside During the Afternoon Witching Hours

This is my go-to way to pull us out of the downward spiral that starts at 4 pm. As soon as the meltdowns start I hustle the kids into coats and shoes and we go for a walk. Even if they complain they usually shake off the bad moods by the time we hit the driveway.

Alternatively, I sometimes take them into the yard to play on our swingset, or play a game of tag or follow the leader.

This works well if part of the problem is feeling cooped up. Sometimes a change of scenery makes a big difference. And this doesn’t usually require much more of parents than walking, possibly pushing a stroller, or standing outside to make sure no one gets hurt.

Plus, I love going outside. It’s my go-to fix for any problem.

2. Feed Them

Honestly, this one is hard for me because I’m really strict about eating on a schedule. My kids, not me. I eat all day.

And we eat an early dinner in order to get done in time for bed. My youngest is the slowest eater in the world. And I have to allow my oldest plenty of time to complain and whine about her food before she starts eating it. So, a snack is very likely to spoil their appetites for dinner.

Having said that, many of my mom friends swear by the snack cure. And they’re not wrong, this works. And some days I am all about what works.

Fill their mouths with snacks and hopefully they will be too busy chewing to whine or scream. Plus they’ll be seated at a table, unable to be underfoot or trying to climb your leg or any of the other late afternoon shenanigans that make me tear out my hair.

If it makes you feel better, serve cut up veggies or fruit.

3. Screen Time

We all know the one thing most likely to quiet a child in the throws of obnoxious behavior is a screen in front of them. Say what you want about the negative effects of screen time, but if you want to do what works, just give them the Ipad already. Or the Kindle, Or switch on their favorite cartoon.

None of us want our kids to spend too much time in front of a screen but thirty minutes in the afternoon to buy you a break and a chance to make dinner in peace is probably worth it. Do what you gotta do, mamas!

The Witching Hours are the Worst

Although this semi-psycho time of day is frequently referred to as The Witching Hour, we all know it’s hours, plural. And I for one, find it hard to take a lot of days. If this is something you struggle with too, I hope these tips can help you.

If you have other ideas for getting through the 4pm-7pm hours, please share them in the comments, for all our sakes.

And take a breath. Eventually, they grow out of this. Right? Right? Anyone?

Do Your Kids Go Crazy During the Witching Hour?

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17 thoughts on “3 Ways to Cope with The Witching Hour”

  1. The dreaded witching hour!! Love all your tips, good to know others implement them too. One other thing that works for us I let my older son pick music for a dance party using our Alexa. Hand Clap and Happy usually turn the witching hour around, this is helpful if it’s really raining.

  2. I agree it can be a hard time of the day Going outside is definitely a good one for us. Sometimes I make myself a coffee and watch them run around in the yard . Sometimes we take the dog for a walk too.

    1. I was never on the no TV team, but definitely kept it to a minimum until my second kiddo arrived and I was sick for a month after. Then my oldest pretty much got unlimited screen time while I recovered. It’s been over a year and I’ve never quite managed to dial it back as much as I would like to. But you’re totally right, there would be no dinner without it. Or lunch either. At least nothing that didn’t come straight from a package.

  3. Going outside is so important to our day. Even though it is cold and snowy this time of year, if my daughter and I don’t get outside at some point with the dog, we all start to go a little stir crazy! Bundling up in the snow pants, jackets, hats, gloves, etc, is totally worth it!

    1. I totally agree! We bundle up and go out in all weather except maybe severe wind. We’re like a slightly different version of the post office motto: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this mama from getting her kids outside;)

  4. Feed them! ? I only laugh because it works lol Our witching hour always starts around 3:30, and my god that’s about the time I’m thoroughly exhausted and praying to sit and relax until I have to start dinner. So yes, I give snacks, put on the TV or send them outside with the dog haha it’s for their own good really, they wouldn’t like me when I’m angry ?

    1. Feed them is definitely the way to go some days. Before they get hungry, or angry, or HANGRY as Tina Fey has called it. Or before I do. Sometimes I offer the snack as an excuse for me to eat. And the TV for the same reason. We all need a break by late afternoon, LOL.

  5. I have always admired your dedication to get your kids outdoors twice a day, regardless of weather. Some days here in Oregon going outside just sucks. But I too am a firm believer in the power of the outdoors to be a mood lifter. Fresh air is magical. And Snacks…well we all pretty much know they have magical powers too, especially the chocolate kind 😉
    You can invite Gramma over for a playdate at 4pm 🙂
    And Yes, I promise they outgrow it… they grow right into new kinds of ways to make you pull your hair out 😉
    But dang, they are adorable when they’re sleeping 😉

  6. OH MY GOSH. i thought it was only my kids! At around 4, i take them outside for a snack. They get all their wiggles out, eat, and then i sit them in front of the TV while I make dinner! It’s like you went into my brain. I didn’t know that other kids have this “thing” too, thanks for making me feel sane. Parenting is hard.. why do we do this to ourselves? lol!

    1. A bath is a good idea. I didn’t think about that. I sometimes use a bath in place of outside time when the weather is too nasty to go outside. Since my daughters roll and splash as much as possible when they get a chance in the tub.

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