As Halloween rapidly approaches ghouls and goblins will soon be out in search of treats. As a mom I know the true meaning of “the witching hour”… a phenomena even spookier than haunted houses, frightening costumes and the stomachache that results from all the candy your kids will regret eating on Halloween night. In our home, the time period between 4:30 and 7:30pm is the time I “lovingly” refer to as the witching hour. For me, the spookiness of Halloween isn’t an annual celebration but an almost nightly event occurring in my home making us all feel like we are teetering on the verge of insanity. All joy brought by the events of the day can go out the window on the worst of these evenings. As my precious children protest EVERYTHING, it is comparable to my home being taken over by zombies.
I know that I can’t be the only mother who dreads this time of day. I mentally prepare myself for the meltdown which ensues as the evening hours approach. During the time through which the witching hour spans lots of activity happens making it especially trying. Dinner is cooked and, if I’m lucky, consumed … homework is done, baths are given, stories are read and sibling rivalries flair. I tackle these task with cranky, tired children at my feet or in my arms. We are all already exhausted from a long day and bed time for the little ones is imminent. As tears flow and tantrums escalate, it is not uncommon that at some point during the witching hour it feels like all hell breaks loose. I understand that evenings are supposed to be a time to bond as a family. Our evenings too frequently end up in major meltdown mode for all of us, and it is terribly unpleasant.
In recent weeks I’ve been on a mission to make our evenings together as a family a little more tolerable and have found these tricks helpful in reducing the ghoulish behavior presented by my children during the trying time of the witching hour and in turn reducing some stress and anxiety from my already overwhelmed plate.
1. Eliminate cooking on the busiest nights
Get take out, use a crock pot, eat leftovers or cook in advance — do whatever it takes to not have to cook during the evening hours. Cooking on an evening when I have screaming children at my feet is both unsafe for them and causes major anxiety for me. Top that off with kids who don’t eat what is served, and you have a mommy who needs her very own witch costume.
2. Feed them early
My kids eat less with increasing fatigue, so feeding them a little earlier results in full tummies, happier attitudes and less struggles trying convince them to eat. This occasionally means that we don’t all eat together as a family, but after the smoke has cleared and my kids are in bed my husband and I can enjoy dinner and adult conversation in peace … our very own, at home date night.
3. Enjoy the fresh fall air
With the cooler fall temperatures, we have been enjoying outside time following an earlier dinner. Fresh air is good for everyone, and a little outside playtime will help wear your children out making them good and tired at bedtime. Plus, changing up your nightly routine gives your whole family something new and different to look forward to.
There is still a great deal of crying and fussing that happens during the evening hours at my house. But I’ve tried to reduce my stress level just a bit in hopes that I will more calmly endure the witching hour. The good news is these few hours are short lived and soon enough bed time will arrive, and the little ghouls will slumber peacefully while you sweetly stare at their still, calm bodies and look forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.