By Amy Betters-Midtvedt of Hiding in the Closet with Coffee
The hours between 4:00 and 6:00 pm can bring me to my knees. People call this time of day “The Witching Hours,” but I prefer to call it “The Hours That Can Send Me Spinning into the Vortex of Doom” (admittedly not as catchy). This has been going on since I gave birth, my friends. You’d think that since I now have kids between the ages of 5 and 15, I’d have found more answers, yet still not much helps me navigate this time of day effectively. When the curse of the Witching Hours strikes, I am often left helpless.
It’s not always crazy; many days I can ward off the curse. I save us from the Witching Hours with my (stolen) organizational tricks and my good humor and a nice little snack and our afternoon runs like clockwork(ish). Then, on other days, a spell comes over us, chaos reigns, and the cheerful person who was happily texting my dear husband at 3:00 about our plans for dinner and how cute Sam was when I picked him up from school? She has morphed into a crazy, wild-eyed woman who can barely say hello when he walks in the door. I’ve come undone, people, and the following is a list of all things that might have caused that undoing:
They want this every day. Every. Day. Dinner requires me to actually stand up and make the things, and there is a high probability that these things will cause people to complain (although they complain more loudly if I make nothing; I’ve tried it). I can choose to be “creative” and involve the kids in the delight of the dinner making process, but then I’ve brought complaining, fighting and a long, slow mess right up next to my ears and eyeballs. And that’s no good. Or we can all eat PB & J and cereal, but I tend to feel like a bit of a failure by day 7 of this plan. Some days, I can pull off the dinner miracle with grace, but other days…it makes me cry.
2. Side by side with dinner making we have our friend…homework.
After working all day or at-homing all day, coming home to kids with homework is just not tops on my hit parade. Somehow, their homework becomes my homework as I coach and tutor through math and writing and monitor 30 minutes of reading (all while multitasking my duties found in #1). The MATH, people…I can’t even. And you want me to explain Mitochondria, high school child? What’s wrong with your friend Google? I have already been in all the grades, dear offspring. I should be off the hook.
3. I’ve worked all day and I’m tired.
I have never been a stay-at-home-everyday mom, nor have I ever been a work-outside-the-home-everyday mom. I have always had my feet a bit on each side of the fence. On the days I work, I get to spend my day happily chatting with adults. Lots and lots of talk in my job. So at the end of the day when chatty, chatty children want to chat, chat, chat, I am often just done. I want to hide in the closet with my coffee for at least 20 minutes before facing my tribe, but there is most often not 20 minutes to be had. I do admit, sometimes I try the “Mom’s going to change her clothes, I’ll be down in two (20) minutes” trick and it works.
4. I’ve stayed home all day and I’m tired.
On the days I’ve stayed home, I’ve spent the day trying to get a week’s work of at-home stuff done in a day or two. I’ve had lots of littles and love and togetherness. Train building and coloring and putting down for naps and gloriously slow walking. The dreamy stuff that poops us all right out. But then the bigs come home and demand a snack/homework help/to be driven all over creation. I just need to disappear for a few minutes and again, my closet is looking darn good.
5. The littles have napped and they have a nap hangover.
Hell hath no fury like a child who took too much of a nap and can barely wake up. This brand of child is generally dissatisfied with most everything in the world. They are blurry eyed, and no show or book or toy is the right one. They want to snuggle with you while not being touched and only want select people to look at them — just definitely not the person who is looking at them right now. They are so tired but DO NOT want to go back to bed, and may the dear Lord help you if you attempt to set this child’s feet down on the floor.
6. Conversely, we have the child who hasn’t napped.
In my world, this child is usually starting to spin wildly out of control. They simply act nuts and are flailing around in the middle of the kitchen right in the path of the people (one of whom is trying to make dinner). Or this child is demanding snacks/Legos/movies/a trip to the zoo/to go back to Florida/to be addressed only as Superman. He has a wild look in his eye and mostly likely a wild look in his hair and will loudly protest not getting his way. See nap hangover for further symptoms.
Please refer to point #1. It really bears repeating.
8. People touching me.
So much touching. I come from a tribe of huggers. I love this about us. But after a long day when I am craving that 20 minutes, 5 people butted up against me on the couch or sitting right on me or hanging off my leg is the opposite of alone time. People having actual wrestling matches while sitting on my lap also falls into this category.
9. Mouth noises…oh, the mouth noises.
I gave birth to loud mouths, every single one of them. Lots of loud thoughts and feelings and even when I beg for quiet, there are the MOUTH NOISES, made with no intent to communicate a darn thing. It’s noise just for fun. That’s right. No actual words, just a half hour of a sort of freestyle beatbox coming from the mouths that have had to work so hard being quiet at school all day. You can imagine how soothing this is.
I have found no sure-fire cure, so we just plow through those cursed hours where nothing seems quite right. Distraction sometimes works. Prayer never hurts. Kicking the kids out to the yard 1970’s style can be an awesome solution. More grown-ups on the scene (friends, neighbors, grandparents, grab a repairman or your friendly neighborhood mail carrier in a pinch) can be life saving. God bless you if you stop by at 4:00. I will not let you go. We muddle through our bag of tricks until the spell wears off, right around the time my husband walks through the door.
At 6:00 I slowly morph back into myself. I am able to cuddle and cook and help with homework. The kids (and the mom?) who were tired and hungry and out of sorts themselves have been fed and chatted with, and we all take it down a notch. Sitting around a dinner table together is also a cure for the savage beasts, and I realize that whatever I ended up making for us is just fine.
The witching hours are over, I am myself again and my people are much cuter and more fun than they were an hour ago. I wipe my tears and they wipe theirs, and I continue to look for a cure for the curse of the witching hours.
Because if I know anything, it is that they will strike again.
This post was originally published on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee.
About the Author