There is a funny scene in “Marley and Me” where – after they have three kids a dog – the dad is sitting in the car avoiding going into the house for dinner. Jennifer Aniston asks him what he’s doing in the car and he says “man stuff.” When I watched the movie first I was pregnant, and ignorant. I now know that that man was doing what all men do: trying desperately to avoid “the witching hour.”
My mom is the one who introduced me to the term. At the time Sam was two months old and I was complaining about how horrible the end of the day is. She explained to me what apparently all moms, kids, dogs, telemarketers, UPS men, and even houseplants know about: the horrors of 3:30pm – whenever Dad finally gets home. It is long, boring, everlasting, dreadful, and miserable. Some things make it worse. These factors include decrease in sunlight, daylight, outside temperature, or nap length, the number of kids (babies under six months count as 3 points), the hunger of all immediate persons, and number of people teething or with head colds.
There is no real solution to the witching hour. But I thought I would offer some things that we do around our house then. I am not a kindergarten teacher and I am not creative, as you will see from this list. These ideas are born from desperation, nothing more. Therefore, please comment below with your witching hour suggestions.
~ craft box. Most effective if used sparingly. Ours holds scissors, glue sticks, markers, stickers, tape, bandaids, playdough, finger paint, watercolor paint, brushes, coloring book, fuzzy sticks, dry erase board, pencils, highlighters, and a few other things in the dollar store aisle. Locals, shout-out for the new dollar store at exit 23. Tons of crafty items, all $1.
~ indoor sand box. This is a bad idea for so many reasons. First, the sand box is actually a glass jar that is decorating the bathroom. Second, hello, sand inside? Bad idea. But the second half of this project is always vaccuuming, which is actually a good witching hour activity in itself as well now that I think about.
~ baking. Contrary to normal baking, witching hour baking pays no attention to how much you actually want/need the item or whether or not you feel like scraping oats and honey off the kitching floor. It’s recreational.
~ “baking.” We make cake out of various items, such as golf balls, old head of iceberg lettuce, tea bags, flour/water, celery stalks, cheerios and raisins, blocks, spice bottles, and an orange. I don’t recommend the orange. He tried to eat it, sprayed everywhere, etc etc.
~ a good long bath. Like as an activity. Bring up a strainer, a big spoon, use lots of bubbles, waste lots of water. Real pace changer.
~ Fisher Price online alphabet game, and online books.
~ playing with all of the tupperware out of the cupboard. Sure, I always wash it after. (?)
~ taking all the cushions off the couches and making a fort.
~ going for a ride in the laundry basket, stopping at “stations” to pick up favorite animals or toys. This is not recommended for the pregnant or the weak.
~ painting with water on paper. You could accuse me of being poor, but I care not. It has used up a good fifteen minutes before.
~ homemade playdough. There is probably an official recipe somewhere, but I mix corn starch with water (and food coloring if things are really desperate) and it is pretty fun.
~ dance party.
~ playing with ice chips.
~ “driving” the car. Sam sits in the drivers’ seat and pretends he is driving. Only downside to this one is the tantrum you will get the next time he realizes he does not get to drive and must sit in the back like a mere passenger. Apparently it’s crushing.
~ TV. Used aptly, it is a lifesaver. Truly. Sam is obsessed with this video, in case you are in the market.
~ going to a new room in the house. I know, people, it’s a stretch. But you just never know what might create a whole twenty minutes of new fun.
So there are my lamo ideas for the witching hour. FYI, here are a few things I do not recommend doing during the witching hour:
– expecting your toddler to tell you when he/she needs to go to the bathroom, or to hold it for longer than fifteen minutes at a stretch.
– answering phone calls of people you want to impress.
– trying to actually accomplish anything, including making dinner.
– looking in the mirror.
– calling your husband to ask where he is. This is a lose/lose. The absolute only good answer is, “Yes, honey, I am currently standing at the door, and you will see my face in four seconds. Oh, and by the way I picked up dinner at Carabbas.” But we all know that is not usually how that conversation goes.
Look forward to hearing your tips!