At some point when the late afternoon turns into the early evening, babies, toddlers and children everywhere turn into demon spawn. Traditionally, any hours between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., create this cauldron of restless mania resembling that of zombies who simply just won’t stop until they win. Or eat your brains.
Some theorize this is because babies and kids are at their maximum end-of-day stimulation and simply can’t take any more. Others theorize this has to do with the body’s circadian rhythms, the sun is starting to rest therefore us humans want to rest as well. We want to naturally wind down. Or at least know that we’re heading there. Kids are the same.
The question is: how do we handle our little witching hour gremlins and keep our own sanity while doing so? The answer: Some sort of structure.
The witching hours are a really good time to have dinner, baths and reading time before bed. Remember, the kids are tired. Food and the actual act of sitting in water seem to soothe the savage beasts. If they’re extremely tired, these can have the opposite effect (food throwing and screaming as if they’re sitting in lava, anyone?). But most of the time, these are good remedies.
The routine itself, though, can also have a calming effect teaching the kids the comforting fact that their big overnight sleep is on the way.
Before settling into dinner, sometimes it’s a great idea to let your kids play outside in a yard or park for a little bit. Even 30 minutes of physical activity and fresh air helps express out that excess demon energy.
If kids are too physically tired to head outside and parents fear it might prompt the reverse effect, don’t be afraid to throw on the television for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes kids need physical rest, and sitting with books doesn’t always guarantee them to sit still long enough in order to actually rest their bodies. However you feel about television, it usually does the job. It doesn’t have to be every day, but it’s a decent default on the days you’re desperate.
Sometimes 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. is also a good time for kids to be in an active class, maybe a dinner/play date with another family, or an early dinner out with the family. These mini-adventures serve as nourishment for the tummies and give the kids a different type of activity to engage in. Once back at the house, quick baths are the only thing between them and their beds. And by that time, they’re unknowingly doing their best Frankenstein impressions walking towards their beds.
Of course, if all else fails, pour yourself a great big goblet of your favorite wine. It’s no coincidence that the witching hours are directly in alignment with happy hour.