Mom schedules—Some days you win them and other days you lose the will to live.
Each day, I try to have a defined plan for my kids that lasts until noon and makes everyone happy—or at the very least, distracted. By the time the littlest one is down for her nap, the older two have settled into their quiet time, and the afternoon seems to happily hum along. But without fail there is a moment which happens each and every day. For YEARS it took me by surprise. Two words…
Witching. Hours. Here’s how mine goes.
4pm – 5pm: Baby is clawing at my ankles for a snack. I’m listlessly staring at my cup of coffee, stirring a pot of yet defined dinner, and chain texting my husband for back up. (ASAP, OMG WHY DID WE HAVE KIDS AGAIN?!) There is a blur of older children running past me from room to room, fighting with each other and screaming for more snacks, more screen time and more of everything I can’t give them right now. In this moment, the easiest thing to do is let my children dictate what kind of evening we will have. I am out of energy, I don’t have a plan for the chaos, and I just stop pushing. I’m too tired. (Understandably so!) So, often I let events unfold and I lose the opportunity to create the environment that I want for me and my family.
It’s a fact that by 4pm I will have physical and mental exhaustions that will not allow me to be the best version of “mom” that I wanted to be at the beginning of that day. Yet, at the same time, I wanted to reclaim the hours past 5pm to work for me, for my husband, FOR TEAM FAMILY.
I’ve noticed that if I don’t create the mood I want, then by default it befalls the tiny dictators. And I want to enjoy my evenings, dammit!
During my favorite nights with my family there are dance parties, candles, wine, and family dinner at the table. I connected my love of scheduling and winning back the witching hours by setting a reminder on my phone every day at 5pm. This reminder says to “light the candles and start the music.” Just a few realistic things that I knew I could do consistently. Those two transitional prompts don’t just create the mood, they serve as a living reminder that the night is mine again. (Batwoman?)
Now, I try to not let the evening hours pass by feeling defeated. And for the most part, I get to decide how our evenings go. Somedays it’s harder than others, and if I’m being honest, sometimes we just blow out the candles and drive through Chick-Fil-A. But even still, I’m calling the shots (both decisions and tequila), and that’s all that matters.
Here are a few other tricks we use to win back the evenings at our house:
- Carry your baby from their nap bed to the high chair for a snack and drink so they don’t get hangry. Prepare a pre-dinner snacks for older kids before they ask.
- Save screen time for when you meal prep.
- Meal prep in the mornings if time permits.
- Dance cleaning party every day at 5 pm.
- Set up an outdoor activity for kids while you prep for dinner.
- Porch cocktail hour with special drinks for the kids AND the adults. Eat outside!
- Ask your older kids to shower and put on jammies while you make dinner.
- Ask your kids to prepare a show or dance or dramatic reenactment so you can enjoy a quiet dinner.
- Ask for highs and lows at the dinner table to make your conversations meaningful and less about them picking at their food.
- Eat in the dark! Light all the candles and play smooth jazz.
- Pack a picnic and eat in the park.
- Drive thruuuuuu.
What’s your favorite type of night with your family? How can you remind yourself that you’re in charge of those hours and take back control of the evening?
*raises the wine glass*
c/o MotherLift—A sister trio: Designer, Doula, and Therapst.