As parents, we know better. For the witching hour is a daily occurrence and lasts for not one hour but at least three! And it doesn’t start at midnight. Its when the clock strikes 4… Its not the supernatural creatures that you have to worry about either. It’s the little monsters that your kids invariably turn into. Hungry, tired, irritable little vampires.
So how do you survive the witching hour and, most importantly, avoid being bitten yourself?
Here is what you need to do:
1. Keep Calm and Carry On
This is key. No matter what happens try and remain calm. Witching hour is the most hectic time of the day because of “DBB”, otherwise known as Dinner, Bed, Bathtime.
DBB is a killer, or at least it can be, especially if you’re juggling 3, 3 and under. For starters, its at the end of a very long day – you’re tired, your kids are tired and even though there’s a light at the end of the tunnel (called bedtime) there seems to be no end to it. You need to get through dinner and bathtime before you get to bedtime and that’s no easy feat.
There will be screaming, whining, food throwing, crying and a hell of a lot of mess. Expect it, accept it, keep calm and carry on.
2. Do use the tv as a babysitter
Most parenting books tell you not to use the tv as a babysitter. If you’re a parent of young kids and you don’t have outside help then you have to rely on all the help you can get. If that help comes in the form of a tv, then by all means, use it as a babysitter for an hour or so if you need to!
I rely on the tv when the witching hour begins – my eldest daughter comes home from school exhausted and cranky – I sit her down with her younger sister to watch her favorite tv show while I get dinner ready. She gets to have a little rest and enjoy herself while I get to cook uninterrupted! It’s a win win situation.
There is nothing wrong with using the tv as a babysitter so long as you use it occasionally. It can actually be very educational!
3. Baby Bjorn it
You’ve only got so many hands. If you’re juggling 3, 3 and under then you will not survive without a baby carrier like a sling or a baby bjorn. I often have to put my baby in the baby bjorn while I get dinner. She simply will not let me put her down during the witching hour. You have to carry on and the baby bjorn allows you to do this.
Of course, if you’re cooking fragrant curries in sizzling oil, it may be a good idea to take baby out of the baby bjorn and put her down out of harms way. There may be screaming but it’s better that than a burnt baby!
4. Getting through Dinner
– Plan ahead
You should know what you’re going to cook in advance. Chances are you won’t have the time or the inclination to think about what’s for dinner.
– Keep it easy
There are some great frozen foods out there or fresh food that you can freeze – I like to buy salmon fillets and freeze them and cook them up with cous cous and vegetables – its quick and easy and the kids love them. Have a few frozen kids meals in the freezer for those nights where time isn’t on your side – there is a great range from M&S.
– Keep them hungry
The hungrier your kids are the better they’ll eat. While its tempting to feed your kids a snack before dinner try and resist, or if you must, a piece of fruit should tide them over without filling them up.
– Keep it short
The longer you draw out dinner, the less your chances of survival. Keep dinner to half an hour of pain. If your kids haven’t eaten anything in 30 minutes its unlikely that they will eat anything in the next 30! If your kids are hungry they will eat. If they are just refusing to eat, they will learn pretty quickly that they will go hungry if they dont!
– Let them feed themselves
The earlier you teach your kids to self feed, the better. Sure, it’s definitely messier but if your kids can feed themselves it’s one less thing you have to do. It will free you up to clean up the kitchen and prepare for the second hurdle of DBB – the bath.
5. Getting through bath
Bathtime can be trying. Here are some tips to help you from drowning:
– Have the bath ready
Run the bath before/during dinner so you can transfer your messy monsters straight from the dining table to the bath.
– Be prepared
Lay out all your kids pjs and underwear in the bathroom for a quick and easy change and make sure all their toiletries are at hand.
– Throw them all in
Don’t bathe your kids separately, you’re just making your life more difficult. Even if you have a small baby, you can still bathe the baby with the older kids. So long as you’re in control no one should drown and the kids will get a real kick out of having a baby in the bath with them. Just make sure you have a change mat on the floor so that you can dress the baby whilst keeping an eye on the older kids in the bath. When it’s time for them to come out, just move the baby out of harms way (to prevent trampling!) and get the older kids dressed.
– Wash hair sparingly
Kids may love water but they don’t love it when it’s being poured on their heads. Don’t wash their hair every day if you can help it. Why put yourself through that ordeal more than you have to?
6. The home stretch – Bedtime
Phew! You’re nearly there. If you’ve managed to survive so far then you’re doing well. You’ll have more success with this hurdle if you’ve been calm throughout the other two. A calm parent usually equates to calm kids and that’s what you need at bedtime.
The key to bedtime is routine. You need to have one and you need to be consistent so your kids will know what to expect.
For example, in our house the routine goes like this:
– I breastfeed the baby while the girls watch a little tv;
– I give the girls their milk;
– I put my 2 yr old into her sleeping bag and give her “blankie” to cuddle;
– I read the girls a few bedtime stories;
– I tuck the girls into bed and sing them their very own “sleepy song”; and
– then it’s lights out for “mummy/daddy time” at around 7.30pm.
Sounds easy huh?
Let’s just say some nights are better than others and that the topic of sleep is best addressed in a whole other post!
I hope this advice helps you get through your own witching hour. If you have any helpful hints you’d like to add, I’d love to hear from you.