Baby in ball pit

A teething Baby Holly

A FELLOW mum has started going solo of a night now her hubby is working a late shift. She wanted some tips on how I survive witching hour on the nights The Bloke in The Shed is at meetings ‘til late. That time of night when supernatural creatures are particularly active. Oh, sorry, wrong witching hour.

I was sure I had plenty of tips and magic spells to turn little ferals into perfect, patient angels. Like, move to another time zone when 5pm hits. Seriously. I thought our nights ran less like battling peak hour traffic and more like a ballet dance. I might add, not Ella’s ballet, where last week the teacher asked them to “sit there, girls” and every one of them got up and followed her to the instrument cupboard.

As I was in the midst of trying to juggle everything tonight – a teething Baby Holly biting my shoulder while I jiggled her up and down on one hip, stirred food with the other hand and pushed pencils in the direction of Princess Ella via a foot as she complained she was “huuuungry’’ – I wondered if maybe I could be doing it better. Or is that called coping?

Here are some of my witching hour coping strategies and suggestions:

  • Put young babies into a baby carrier or older babies into a Jolly Jumper. Not unlike bike riding, going “hands-free” can still end in tears for someone. Especially if your door opening isn’t very wide and you have an overactive jumper.
  • For preschoolers and older, get them involved in cooking the meal. Children are more likely to eat the main meal if they’ve had a hand in preparing it. Yes, sometimes even broccoli.
  • Give them a new toy. Which really just means something stashed in the cupboard that they’d previously become bored with. To them, it’s new.
  • Set up an activity they’re able to do themselves for 20 minutes – drawing, play dough, craft or dancing (concerts are a highlight here). It’s just enough time to peel the spuds and get the meat into whatever appliance it needs to go into.
  • Press the action button on the Zhu Zhu pet and watch them go silly. It causes giggles (and ear piercing squeals) for a good 20 minutes.
  • Have lots of leftovers and freezer food. We tend to do big cook ups on the weekends now and freeze some of it or have it as leftovers early in the week. This helps make mealtime preparation shorter.
  • Feed them sultanas. I know, I know, never eat before dinner time. It doesn’t appear to have affected either of their appetites I might add. Yes, big eaters. Plus, sultanas seem to take forever to chew.
  • If all else fails, just keep pedalling.

Then it’s onto the nightly routine:

6pm: Dinner time

6.30pm: Bath time (also known as “let’s see how wet we can get the bathroom floor’’)

6.45pm: All pile into Ella’s bed for books, songs and milk. If Baby Holly is so tired she can’t stay awake for books, I leave Ella to read to herself, feed and put Holy to bed, and come back and resume the routine with Ella.

7pm: Everyone tucked up into bed. Hopefully asleep. Yes, wishful thinking.

How do you cope with witching hour? What are your tips for surviving each night?

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23 Responses to How to survive the witching / arsenic / feral hour

  1. For my daughter I tape Playschool and Mister Maker and she sits there and watches them. For my son he is either napping or attached to my hip by then. So careful placement of him and run away, 5,4,3,2,1, attached to hip again. so the jolly jumper or the walker come out – he tends to climb out of the walker so it ends up being ‘just keep plodding along’ with him. Sometimes he stays in lounge with sis but it usually ends in tears anyway.

    • Kel says:

      Oh, how could I have not included the tellie, Courtney? My goodness, yes, a true lifesaver during the witching hour. The HD Recorder is full of Play School, Hi-5 and Magical Tales, which Ella is more than happy to sit and watch.
      Unfortunately, Baby Holly is just that bit too young for TV. It’s Holly who’s the biggest challenge for me too. And she seems to hate the walker and is now getting too big for the Jolly Jumper. At 10 months, she’s at that awkward (and heavy) age! 😉

  2. Jo S says:

    On days I’m on my own, which don’t happen so often anymore, I try to make dinner ahead eg in the morning so I only need to zap it in the microwave. Things like pasta bake or a casserole work best for this. I also try to have dinner about 15 minutes earlier at 5.45 before they notice that they are really hungry and become unreasonable and whingy. I try (try being the important word here) to prevent things going pear shaped by having the solution. It doesn’t always work
    When I don’t do the above, ABC kids is a lifesaver!

    • Kel says:

      That’s a good tip about having dinner earlier, Jo. I often do the same when The Bloke in The Shed isn’t home. Although, for me it’s usually because I’m conscious it takes that much longer to get through everything by myself.
      Getting meals prepared earlier in the day is a good one too. I also find the slow cooker helpful, because I can put it on in the morning and leave it!
      And yes, thank goodness for ABC Kids!! 😉

  3. I think I’m a coper more than a strategist so no great insights here. TV usually helps the toddler. Also I do give her a little something small if dinner isn’t ready and she’s fussing. It beats a full blown tantrum when I am trying to wrap things up. Else she becomes totally feral and will refuse dinner outright. With bub, slinging her, if I have to else she’s in the rocker facing me in the kitchen. I do like your idea of getting them to help cook. I might try that next time with my toddler.

    • Kel says:

      Ella loves getting involved in the cooking, Veronica. Often she eats half the carrots and mushrooms before we get to the cooking stage, but I’m OK with that! I usually chop everything and she puts it into the saucepans (which aren’t turned on, of course). She’ll also happily pass me spoons and things. Worth a try, anyway!

  4. veggie mama says:

    I need to get one of these Zhu Zhu pets!

  5. I also find that if all else fails – just add water, what ever the time, a bath or a bucket keeps them amused. Will be good when its hotter – throw them outside with the sprinkler and some soap.

  6. I guess I’m lucky that my Irishman starts early and finishes early, he’s always at home for dinner/bath/bedtime. But some days it gets hectic, so Dora comes on for Miss 3 and Mister 1 gets plonked on the mat with his duplo!
    I try and get dinner mostly done while the kids have their afternoon nap, so when the time comes I just need to reheat or pop in the oven. I also make double batches of freezeable meals so I can whip something out in a pinch!

    • Kel says:

      Oh, you’re so lucky, Kellie. I’d love it if Julian was home to help during that period more often. It makes such a big difference. I also wish Ella had an afternoon nap!! That went out the window a looong time ago. *sigh*
      Sounds like you’re doing pretty well though, Kellie! Some good tips too. 🙂

  7. Stace says:

    Fortunately my toddler isn’t tooooo unbearable at witching hour… but on the times that she is, I just plonk her in front of the TV!! I’m such a great parent. lol.

    • Kel says:

      LOL!! No, not a bad parent at all, Stace. We do what we have to to get through. I don’t think a bit of TV hurts them at all. In fact, Angelina Ballerina has taught Ella moves that I just couldn’t!! 😉

  8. Elisha says:

    Well ! I tend to do this hour along a lot as my husband works late and with my kids, it can be a total nightmare ! Some tips of mine are

    * Prepare as much of the evening meal as possible while the kids are napping ! If all else fails get your 10-11 year olds to peel veg after school ( evil mummy i know!)
    * I just realised i dont really have any tips ! I wing it mostly… but being a very strict routine style person, it seems to flow most nights with ease….

    My routine when im alone – Dinner at 5.30 – 6.00 / 6.00 – 6.15 Clean up dishes while the kids run feral ( preferably naked !) 6.15 – 6.40 silly play on the floor , 6.40 Run the bath – cart all naked kids to the bathroom , throw twins in, allow Emily naked kick time on the bathroom floor – wash twins, teeth, hair etc, throw Emily in… wash her etc, pull her out and dress her while twins play – move her to living room in rocker with a toy, chase the twins, dress them, they have a warm milo on their lil couches while i feed Emily her bedtime bottle , big kids often read to little kids etc… all tucked up in bed by 7.30 ! The olden two use the bathroom downstairs and shower etc at the same time ! Big Kids in bed at 8.30 FIRM !! HAHA…

    • Kel says:

      Wow! That is one mighty night-time schedule, Elisha. Very impressive! You are amazing! Who doesn’t love a nudie run, too. x
      And laughing at your tips too. Hehe! 🙂

  9. amie says:

    wow – this is all great! We are starting to get a routine which the girls are now used to, however on dean’s days off the wheels kinda fall off – I think we are all a little distracted by the dad factor! 🙂

    I have also found that Maya is more helpful then I give her credit for – she does an amazing job of washing dishes (when I say wash, I mean they are ready for the dish washer!) and she also loves to help cooking, I to have a “pot put a iner assistant”

    • Kel says:

      Yes, these girls are growing up so fast, Amie. I think it’s easy to underestimate how clever they are. I think they feel pretty special when they get to help too. Hope you find your rhythm soon on the dad-free nights too. 🙂

  10. We bought the kids (2 and 3 1/2) some Kiddie Cutters which are serrated knives they can’t cut themselves with, but can cut food. I usually set up their table in the kitchen and let them cut/destroy a carrot each while I cook. CrashGirl also likes peeling potatoes, but is is very very messy!!!

  11. […] I know I forgot an oven. Maybe it was a subconscious thing, because cooking dinner conjures up images of witching / arsenic / feral hour. […]

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