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
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
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?