We may have said goodbye to Halloween, and all its ghosts, ghouls and goblins, but that doesn’t mean the witching hour doesn’t still exist. An average bystander may wonder what the “witching hour” is, but ask any mom you know, and she will tell you it’s that interminably long stretch of time that happens from late afternoon until bedtime finally arrives. It’s that part of the day when your nerves are shot, your patience is done, your children are at their fussiest, and the minutes cannot pass quickly enough. Ironically, it’s also one of the busiest times of the day between dinner, cleanup, bath and bedtime but an hour can last a lifetime when you’ve passed the point of no return. Add to the fun that once Daylight Savings Time ends, your body clock is saying “night-night” while your Iphone says you’ve still got 2 more hours until 7:30.
So, other than donning your pointy hat and hopping on your own broomstick, here are some fun, creative ways to handle those times when you just can’t handle anymore. Yes, we are on a mission to bring the mom’s WWE Smack Down to the Witching Hour!
The P.M. Playdate: When my children were ages 1, 1 and 2 and my husband was traveling on a regular basis, I was fortunate to find a group of moms whose spouses had the same crazy schedule. Whether they were working late, running the night shift, or traveling cross-country, we were all bedtime widows. Rather than pulling our hair out and crying over spit-up milk, we started scheduling a weekly evening playdate, rotating houses and events. In the dead of winter, it might be an indoor playdate or a Baby Einstein “movie night” (at 4:30 in the afternoon), followed by a group dinner of mac’n’cheese and fruit and veggie finger foods. In pretty weather, we might do an outing to the zoo, a picnic in the park or just romp in the backyard. Regardless of the occasion, we scheduled them regularly and made sure we accomplished fun, food and a fresh change of jammies so that by the time I arrived home, I did one last diaper change, feeding and we all plopped down for bed. Not only was it fun for babies and moms alike, but it’s amazing how fast 3-4 hours can go when you’re all in the same boat!
Be Someone You’re Not: My children always loved going to the library or bookstore for Story Hour, Music Class and the variety of other community events that seem to abound for kids these days. Unfortunately, their love for books and music wasn’t always something I could duplicate at home. For some reason, our librarian could get 15 kids to participate in a puppet show, while at home, I couldn’t get my three to stay in the same room for two minutes. One night out of desperation, I grabbed a stack of books, stood on the top of the stairs and proclaimed that “Miss Mommy’s Story Time” was about to begin! Somewhat befuddled and a little intrigued, my children toddled over to where I was and sat down. I grabbed a floppy hat, a blanket for a cape, and led the kids in the “Hello Song.” From there, we launched into our first story; stood up in between books to shake out some wiggles and sing some more songs, got through all the books, finished with some shadow puppets and a “Good bye Song.” No one had a tantrum, no one left the room, no one climbed on top of their sister. Everyone had a great time, and it was a welcome reprieve from the craziness of our normal day. Since that day, Miss Mommy has tended to diversify her business — as the owner of Mademoiselle Mommy’s French Bistro in the kitchen, the driver of Miss Mommy’s Taxi Service and Mini Van – but, she always makes sure she comes back for Story Time at least once every 2-3 weeks. When being Mommy’s just not working, don’t be afraid to change it up– it’s what keeps life fun and you sane!
Let It Go: No, this is not about to become yet another Frozen Sing-along, but sometimes the only way to get through the witching hour is let it go. That means, whatever stress you walked in with from work or the daily commute; SAHMs it may be the fact that you may have been at home all day and still haven’t unloaded the dishwasher or that you haven’t actually brushed your teeth – let it go. Consider 4 p.m. a fresh start, and put everything else about the day behind you – after all, the reason everyone is a bit miserable is you’re all stimulated to the hilt. So, take the calm, quiet approach and snuggle up with a picture book and your baby, or put on some music and cuddle in the rocking chair. If it’s activity you need to de-stress, put on some music and have a dance party; grab the stroller and go for a walk, or wander about the yard on a nature hike finding caterpillars, leaves and twigs. Forget about everything prior to 3:59, and start again.
Call in the Cavalry: It’s hard for women, especially new moms, to relinquish control, but sometimes that’s the best way to handle the witching hour. Your spouse comes in with a fresh outlook, a new perspective, and a last nerve that has not been bounced on all afternoon! It doesn’t mean you’re not a great mom or that you can’t do the job; it’s just that everyone needs to tag in a partner once in a while. So, let it happen – whether it’s your husband, a neighbor, a babysitter, mom or mother-in-law. Taking a step back isn’t an admission of failure, but having the self-awareness to recognize that you need – and deserve – a break.
Keep Calm and Mom On: Let’s face it – sometimes the best you can do is know the storm is coming, hunker down and ride it out. On the days when you can’t plan a p.m. playdate, you have no creativity left and no reinforcements are coming in; when everyone is fussy, including you, just know that this is a fact of every parent’s life. And, maybe you don’t cook a gourmet dinner but order pizza instead; maybe you only read two books that night instead of three; maybe the dishwasher never does get unloaded and there’s always tomorrow to brush teeth. Even when you can’t conquer the witching hour –sometimes it’s not about what you accomplished that day, or even how you handle the time between 4:00-7:30. Maybe it’s just those few moments right at 7:30 when your child feels safe and secure, loved and cherished – and that’s what makes you want to do it all again tomorrow.
~ The Baby Pibu™ Team