It’s 5 o’clock. Stomachs start to grumble, kids start to get crabby and patience is nowhere to be found. You’re tired. They’re hangry (hungry/tired/angry). Dinner is still an hour away. The “witching hour,” as my sister-in-law calls it, is upon you.
Cue meltdowns, sibling fights and increased stress levels. That hour between when everyone realizes they are hungry and when dinner actually gets on the table is rough. It happens to everyone. Well, maybe not everyone but it definitely happens at my house!
So, how do I get past the “witching hour” unscathed? Well, to be honest, most of the time I am yelling while multitasking dinner preparations. I certainly don’t have time to go and referee arguments because if I do, that means dinner will be delayed. And, after all, hunger is the reason for their behavior.
Personally, I don’t believe in snacks close to dinnertime. If I serve something they don’t like the looks of and they had a snack, they’ll just tell me that they aren’t hungry and refuse to eat dinner. Being hungry forces them to at least try the dinner I made.
Aside from yelling, I usually try a few things to get us through the witching hour. Sometimes I will set them up with a cooperative game. Cooperative games can be a lifesaver, especially when you are cooped up in the house in the wintertime. One of our favorites is Feed the Woozle. Both my 4-year-old and 8-year-old can play this game, and I always hear silliness and laughter when this one comes out. They also enjoy playing Twister and take turns spinning for each other. Both of these games are great because no one gets accused of “cheating” and they both allow for the kiddos to get some energy out in a productive way.
5 o’clock dance parties sometimes hit the family room at our house. When I find the kids are full of energy, all I do is put some dance music on and they enjoy bouncing around like Tigger. Another great way to get the wiggles out is with GoNoodle. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. There are all kinds of fun activities for getting energy out indoors. There is everything from dance to yoga to silly songs and the kids love it! I just set up the tablet for them and they do the rest. We learned about it when my oldest child was in first grade and the teachers were using it to help get energy out and help the kids focus throughout the school day.
The bored box is another lifesaver at my house anytime of day. I created it after seeing the idea somewhere (probably Pinterest) a few years ago. I simply took an empty wipes box and filled it with little pieces of paper that have activities written on them (hide something in the house and make a treasure map to find it, draw Mommy a picture, put together a puzzle, etc). When my son says “I’m bored,” he has to pull an activity out of the bored box. The rules of the bored box are that you must do the activity you pull, no trades, and you can only choose three activities a day because if more than three are chosen, we’d run out quickly.
Age-appropriate crafts are always a hit with the kids. They just love being creative. They are sometimes tricky though because they might need oversight. The tip here is to pick one that they are able to do by themselves. If you have a younger child, it might be coloring. If you have an older child, it might involve tape, scissors, etc. When my oldest was 2, I went to a playdate where the mom had an outdoor tablecloth sprawled out on the floor. She laid out the craft materials on it and the kids got to work. I thought this was a great idea! Kids can be comfortable on the floor, you can have them near you so you can see them, your furniture doesn’t get ruined and clean up is super easy!
Cooperative games, dance party, Go Noodle, a bored box and crafts all seem to work if I can remember to do them in the heat of the moment when my mind is focused on dinner prep and my stress level is at an all-time high. With a little advanced planning though, they can all go off successfully and buy you some peace during the “witching hour.”
What are some activities you use to keep the kids occupied while you are making dinner?