Just about every parent has come to that point where you think you’ve completely lost your mind only to learn that your kid isn’t the only one to do __________ and in fact, it’s so common, it has a name. I thought my child somehow became possessed by aliens every afternoon until I learned that people call it the “witching hour.”
I know. It sounds kind of mean to compare your sweet newborn to a witch…until 4pm hits and she turns into a crazed lunatic. The witching hour is that time of day when your baby has played, napped, eaten, spent all day being cute and then just can’t do it anymore. She runs out of cuteness. It’s not time for dinner or bed, she’s too tired to play anymore and the only thing that feels good is to scream at the top of her lungs because maybe then you’ll understand just how frustrating the world is to her. And this, of course, leaves no option but for you to join her because yes, in fact, you do understand how frustrating it is so WHY DONT WE ALL JUST YELL ABOUT IT. Cue your spouse walking in the door from work expecting to be greeted with kisses and hugs only to find two pathetic souls heaped in the corner wailing at each other.
Sounds dramatic but if you’ve lived it, it’s not so far from the truth. The witching hour is real, it’s cruel and it’s soooo not just for babies. If you’ve ever worked at an office and experienced that feeling when it’s a few hours after lunch but not close to time to go home, you know how the kid feels. You know you’ve considered more than once crawling under your desk for a quick nap.
So as with all things that relate to babies and adults, toddlers deal with the witching hour about as well as they deal with emotions, commercials during cartoons and being told no. They turn into monsters. Tiny, little monsters that appear to have consumed an entire case of Red Bull. See, with toddlers, it’s less about crying and more about whining. It’s less “hold me” and more “catch me if you can.” From the hours of 3-7pm, their life mission becomes to NOT STOP. Don’t. Whatever you do, don’t slow down because you might realize you’re running out of steam and that just won’t do. So what do they do? They run. They run in circles from the dining room, to the living room to the kitchen, to dining room… They run up the stairs and down the stairs. They change clothes. They strip out of all their clothes. They run the dining room circuit again naked. They color, they paint, they draw, they do stickers. They ask for a snack, they may or may not finish the snack. It’s a never-ending, exhausting way to spend EVERY SINGLE AFTERNOON.
So the other day when a friend mentioned she had tried something and it helped her boys, I thought what you’re thinking. Why not? We call it Bath O’Clock. At about 4-4:30 – just the time the afternoon crazies are amping up, we head upstairs to take a bath. Brynna loves it. She’s not too tired and it doesn’t mean she has to go immediately to bed. So she loves getting some extra play time, and I love that she’s contained and happy. The warm water is calming, but she’s having fun playing so she doesn’t even realize that I’M WINNING. (Yes, that was the ultimate point of this entire rambling mess.) By the time she’s ready to get out of the tub, she’s clean and happy, and I’ve had a few minutes to sit still. We can make dinner and when Daddy gets home, we can greet him with the hugs and kisses he so loves. It also means that the rest of the evening is relaxing time spent together rather than a rush of trying to get everyone ready for bed.
Does it work every day? Of course not. There are days you have commitments in the evenings, aren’t home or for whatever reason, it just won’t work. But the next time you can, give it a try. I bet you thank me. 🙂