There is a time of day around my house that I like to call the witching hour and if you have been a parent for a little while now then you probably know what I am referring to.
The witching hour around our house typically falls sometime between 5:00 PM and 8:00 PM…that time between nap and bed time. Some days we avoid it all together if the stars properly align and all is right in the world. But, other times it strikes with a vengeance. The worst part about the witching hour is that it falls during the time of day when I have other responsibilities to attend to. During the rest of my daughter’s waking hours, I try to put off tasks and focus just on her, but post-nap time is the time when I need to get dinner going. Sometimes my husband is around to hang out with our daughter during this time, but often he is working on some project or another after he gets home from work (Ahhh! The joys of living in a “fixer-upper”…always a project.) which leaves me to balance dinner duties and the happiness management of a little toddler.
During those times of day I have a few tricks up my sleeve – tools in my arsenal – that I like to whip out in order to combat the grumps that often come during the witching hour. Here are a few…
1. Singing 1 of 7
Singing can instantly distract this girl from a case of the grumps. I can sing while I stir and sometimes I'll whip out a song about patience if she's being extra needy, which is usually a good deterrent for meltdowns.
2. Snacks 2 of 7
God bless snacks. I know that some people tend to think that snacking will make your child less apt to eat dinner, but I'm OK with it. Snack or not, she tends to be fairly picky, so I don't mind giving her a healthy snack while she waits for me to be done with dinner prep. Apples are a particularly good choice since they take so long for her to eat!
3. Letting her help with dinner 3 of 7
Kids LOVE helping with food prep. Yes it takes quite a bit longer, but it's a longer amount of time spent with a happy toddler, which I'll take over a shorter time spent with a screaming toddler any day. Some meals are a little trickier to include toddlers in, but letting them help with pouring, measuring and stirring is always a fan favorite around these parts.
4. Multitasking dance parties 4 of 7
My girl loves to dance. She dances her way throughout each and every day and if anything comes on with a beat, she is automatically and almost involuntarily doing the "toddler drop". She will dance to the rhythm of my husband dosing out coffee grinds, or to the heartbeat sound on her white noise machine...pretty much anything is fair game when it comes to dancing to the beat. So sometimes (oftentimes) while I'm cooking I'll turn some music on my phone and dance with her.
5. Interactive toys 5 of 7
Toys that light up and make sounds are pretty much guaranteed winners in our house and VTech makes some great ones. This Alphabet Activity Cube is our current favorite, but she also loves this little activity suitcase, and this Touch and Teach Word Book. I never knew I could love a singing toy quite so much as I love these during the witching hour.
6. Having an art station 6 of 7
Sometimes when I need a little bit of extra distraction during dinner time I'll set up an art station. My daughter already has a little table set up in a corner of our living room that has crayons, paper, chalk and a chalkboard for her to create art whenever she pleases. But sometimes setting up a special art station seems even more novel. I can set out a big, vinyl table cloth on the floor in the kitchen to catch the messes and set her on her way. Even just coloring with crayons seems more fun in this setting and she likes that she can see me while she works.
7. Stickers 7 of 7
Stickers are the best invention ever. They're great for helping my little one to work on her fine motor skills, but also they're just fun. She's pretty good about sticking them to paper that I supply for her, or on her self, which I am perfectly fine with. It ends up being a wonderful distraction because it's an activity that requires such great focus!