Euurgghhh 5pm – 9pm! That part of the day when you slip into a parallel parenting universe – your kids turn into crazy versions of themselves and time passes e x t r e m e l y s l o w l y until wine o’clock!
It is painful!
Does anyone else sing along a little too enthusiasitically when they hear the CBeebies bedtime song?
There is SO much that you need to get done! Whether you have a young baby, older kids or even a mix of ages (like me 🙈 … God help me!) then the witching hour can seem like you are wading through treacle.
You are tired, your kids are tired and you are all probably hungry! … not a good mix!
Over the last 10 years I have come up with some sneaky tactics to minimise the hell!
…wine also helps of course… but you have probably worked that out for yourself already!
- Prepare yourself 🙂 No not like you are going into battle, I mean prepare yourself to get ready to unwind too! Whether you have just got in the door from work, picked up the kids from the childminder or are frantically counting down the seconds until your other half comes home (so you can run for the hills!), it is a really good idea to get into the habit of helping yourself switch down gears. Help yourself decompress. Think about how you can do this. Everyone will be different… whether it is putting on some calm music or dancing like a loon in your kitchen – for me it is listening to a gritty audio book. Just do something nice for yourself as you transition towards evening.
- Try and keep your diary as free as possible for this time. You won’t have a cat in hell’s chance of keeping this time of day calm if you have planned in supermarket trips, have to complete work from earlier in the day or run errands. Keep this time as kid focused as you can! It will pay off!
- Keep the kids calm. Once you have dialled down your own stress level then it is time to work on the kids. After a long day they might need help to chill out too – Take the dog out for a quick walk, or let them burn off some steam at the park.
- Have story time earlier. Read them a story earlier in the evening when you still have the patience to connect with your kids and are not just trying to get bedtime over with, so you can slump on the sofa.
- Get a slow cooker. Now I know I bang on and on about slow cookers all.the.time…but there is a very simple reason for this – they are the dog’s hoo haas! There have been many times when I have tried to cook spaghetti Bolognese and had a toddler hanging off my leg – it is not ideal! If you are time poor when it comes to prepping evening meals then bung a load of ingredients in the slow cooker earlier in the day. Massive job ticked off the list! Lots of easy slow cooker recipes here!
- Do bath-time in the morning. If you have a young baby who gets fractious at bath-time, then do a little switcheroo and bath them in the morning instead. You can still give them a nice calm bedtime routine but without the tears that come when you bath them!
- Don’t let your blood sugar drop! I bet you give your kids a snack after school. Do you have one too? Probably not! As the early evening draws in you will be getting tired so make sure you have a pickup me to keep you going! No not wine … all in good time, that comes later!
- Have a routine that works for YOU and stick to it. This applies to ALL ages of kids. When everyone knows the score things run so much smoother! Our weekday evening routine is the same every day – we are creatures of habit – but it really helps to calm the jets!
- Make sure homework is done early. Nothing worse than a whinging child trying to do maths! Do it early so that they are not trying to do it when they are tired.
- Be Kind to Yourself. This of course applies to everyone but if you have a colicy baby then this part of the day can be EXTREMELY challenging (I feel your pain!) . At this point it is important to remember… this won’t last forever and the phase WILL pass …carrying them around in a sling may help at this time of the day … whilst going through this phase it might be wise to not attempt to achieve very much at all. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure.
- Have something grown up to look forward to. Have things planned for later in the evenings to spur you on! Get out the house if you can, go for a walk, watch a good film, go to the gym. Or get a good book and get into bed as early as you can!
… if all else fails you will need wine … and the cast iron grit to try again tomorrow 🙂