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Tips for Surviving The Witching Hour

10+ Tips to help you survive the witching hour - the late afternoon, early evening time when life with kids can go horribly wrong.

10+ Tips to help you survive the witching hour – the late afternoon, early evening time when life with kids can go horribly wrong.

If you have kids, you instantly know what I’m talking about when I mention the 5pm blues, pre-dinner drama or the “witching hour.” I have not met a mom yet that didn’t experience this. That’s the time of day, when everything and I mean EVERYTHING can go horribly wrong!  The time of day when even the most sane mom wants to make the kids a pb&j sandwich and crawl in a hole and pray for bedtime to come soon!! 

So what can you do?  I mean, besides the hole thing?  Through a lot of trial and error and mostly error, we’ve found some things that help us get through the worst most drama filled part of our day.

Tips for Surviving the Witching Hour with Toddlers, Preschoolers and Grade School Kids. 

Divide and Conquer – Give each child a separate job.  With my three older children, I let one be the dinner helper, one set the table, and one clear off the table.  And we rotated.  This left one child to play with my youngest while I cooked but reduced fights among the older children. 

Crockpot/Freezer Meals – Give yourself the ability to focus on your kids and not dinner with a Crock Pot or Freezer meal.  Need ideas?  Check out all our Crock Pot meals or these 4 easy Chicken Freezer Meals

Make it Clean-Up Time but make it fun! I often want them to straighten up during this time but just suggesting it can lead to major drama.  But if I use one of My 5 Favorite Clean Up Games it often goes much more smoothly. 

Folder Time – This worked great for us and we will do it again when it turns cooler.  Everyone of my kids have a special folder with fun coloring pages/printables, we found online that they were only allowed to get out at this time of day.  This make them actually look forward to late afternoon. Check out our Free Printables & Homeschool Pinterest Boards for resources to put in your folders. 

Do-It-Yourselves Crafts – Crafts may seem like the last thing you want to do at this time, but if you choose the right kind, it may just work for you.  I only do super simple crafts at this time, crafts that require little or no attention from me.  Peanut Butter Playdough or Preschool Shape & Color Craft

Easy Activity Jar – This is a great suggestion from a friend.  Have a jar that you only pull out during this time and allow your children to pull out a paper with an activity, such as stick pipe cleaners in a colander.  

Get homework out of the way.  My kids always have a “cooling off” time right after school.  About 15-30 minutes to have a snack and relax and then we tackled homework.  But I made sure not to wait too long to start so we didn’t run into dinner prep time.  

-Turn on the TV.  I’m not here to debate about kids and TV watching.  But if your kids are allowed to watch TV at your house, this might just be the perfect time to turn it on. 

But what if you have babies?  Yes, even babies seem to get grouchy at this time of day. 

“Witching Hour(s)” Survival Tips for Babies

Put them in the high chair, swing or baby seat and talk to them while cooking.  Keep up a steady stream of conversation and this can be a special time between you and your baby.  Let them play with a few toys; my kids favorites were spatulas or plastic bowls. 

Put them in a sling or baby carrier and cuddle them close.  If it’s safe, wear your baby while you cook or deal with your other children. 

Breathe.  Sometimes no matter what you try, they are going to fuss.  It’s okay.  It’s not your fault.  Bed time is coming!  You will make it. And it’s okay for them to cry for fifteen minutes while you finish dinner.  They will survive and so will you.  

 10+ Tips to help you survive the witching hour - the late afternoon, early evening time when life with kids can go horribly wrong.

Alright moms, how do you make it?  Share your tips in the comments!  


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Monday 8th of September 2014

The folder idea is a really good one - gives them something to look forward to. I used to keep a couple of cheap 9x13 baking pans ready - one had legos in it, one had a bag of playdoh, one had magnet letters and one had coloring sheets. When the boys started getting out of hand, they could pick a pan.


Wednesday 10th of September 2014

Honestly, the folder thing probably worked the best out of everything. The kids loved picking the stuff to go in it and loved having that time to do it! And there is so many free printables out there, we were always finding great stuff to go in them. Your pan idea is a great one too!!

Stephanie Daigneault

Monday 8th of September 2014

I agree that the crockpot is a savior!! Great tips, thanks!


Wednesday 10th of September 2014

It sure is! I need to add more to my meal planning with school being back and soccer and other activities going on!