Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Bewitching Hours

A friend, Andrea, just posted a enjoyable Mom moment and made mention of the contrasting stinky part of the day, between 4 and 6 PM: that section of the day which all too often results in tears, sibling arguments, and grouchy mommies. (And then Daddy gets to enter into THAT atmosphere...poor guy!!)

There really is nothing worse than experiencing the stress that comes from trying to prepare dinner while your kids' behavior sinks lower and lower into a mess of tears, anger and frustration. The whole day could have gone swimmingly, but when that clock dongs it's 4th dong, WATCH OUT! I thought I would give a few anti-bewitching ideas that have worked for me and then invite you to share yours:
  • Give a medium hearty, healthy snack around 3pm (you too, Mom!)
  • Hunger can be a huge factor in the bewitching hours, especially if bedtime is close to 7PM. If Daddy gets home closer to 6PM or later (i.e. nearing bedtime), consider feeding the kids a simple dinner around 4-4:30PM and then have the kids eat fruit or cheese or a little treat while you and your husband dine together.
  • While you are busy getting dinner ready, have a quiet activity already figured out for the kids to work on: puzzles, coloring, books
  • Separate the kids on different couches or corners to partake in their activities to minimize (eliminate!) arguments
  • Do all (or most) of your food prep (veggies/meat cutting) before 3PM so you are less stressed to get food all prepared
  • Along the same lines as #4, set the table before 3PM
  • Invite the kids to help with the dinner prep: even a small child can pull lettuce apart for a salad, or use a butter knife to cut bananas for the kids plates
  • Put the baby in the crib for some independent play time!! Turn on some enjoyable music and toss a few toys in the crib. Start with just 15 minutes at a time - eventually they will last much, much longer so you can cook and attend to the older kids
  • Think ahead: like, at breakfast (or better yet during yesterday's dinner prep) pull out your meat to defrost.
  • Know what you are having for dinner by lunchtime (or better yet, have a meal plan decided for the whole week).
So, how have you fought the bewitching hours in YOUR home?


Eric & Leah said...

Congrats on Baby Boy #4!! We know a family in Spokane that has 5 boys...! That's big grocery budget. :-)

I'm all about prepping dinner during naptime! That way when dinner time hits you can just toss stuff in bit by bit, between time with kiddos. I also try to save some activity that they asked for in the AM for the PM time. Sometimes that bums them out in the morning, but they're always excited for it when it comes out just before dinner.

Thanks for the great post and ideas Jenne!

Megan said...

Great ideas! I was trying to think of something to share but am now realizing that my 'bewitching hours' have been quite unpleasant lately because we have no plan :) When Eric is gone for dinners we tend to eat early and then go for a walk. That helps me and the kids both a lot.

Megan said...

Oh, my biggest trick is to call YOU and invite myself and family over for dinner! That's my favorite way to get through the bewitching hours!

Pate Family said...

I heard from a great mom that if you just feed your kids cottage cheese, leftover blueberry pancakes, and burned potstickers that it reduces dinner prep time by hours! Have you ever heard of that menu???? :)

Jenne said...

Tiffany -
That sounds like a VERY smart Mom. And what a delectable menu she chose. Really!

And Meg-
Come over anytime. That kills two birds with one stone, i think! Solves BOTH our problems!

Anonymous said...

I just started meal planning for the week and that has been a life saver. I also prep dinner in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast or playing. I also liked Diane Moore's idea of making a veggie plate for the kids to snack on while you are cooking. I have done that and it works really well:)

Amy Woodard said...

My best friend taught her kids to have quiet book time (which was sitting alone and no talking) in the mornings and could just pop that in during dinner time prep. We're working on that over here. Abigail is up to 16 minutes of no talking, just quietly reading books. And it gives me time to have some sort-of quiet time too! Thanks for the other ideas!!

Wilson Family said...

What great ideas! Thanks for the post, Jenne!