Thursday, January 19, 2012

Witching hour(s)

I remember a time in which my kids napped until 4 or 4:30 most days, and Brian got home shortly after 5. There were even a few days sprinkled in there when he would walk in the door and one of the kids was STILL ASLEEP from afternoon nap. Late nappers, my kids have been in the past. That wasn't much of a witching hour.

Several things have changed.

1) Brian doesn't get home until about 5:45. Once or twice a month, he has to stay and work at the rental, so it's 7 or 8pm before he gets home.

2) I have to pick Katy up from school at 3:30, so that is the latest anyone ever naps. And actually, the boys have been waking up closer to 2:30 these days.

3) Once a month, the school has early release and I pick her up at 2:30. Yes, that means that on those days kindergarten lasts an hour and a half. Only part of PM kinder that I don't like. (Three hours of witching on those days).

4) A couple of nights a week, we need to be out the door by 6 or so for an activity, so it's always my goal to have dinner on the table when he walks in.

This is what I would LIKE for the witching hours to look like:

- The kids enjoy a healthy snack around the table and talk politely about the day.

- I help Katy with her 10 minutes of homework, which she completes cheerfully while the boys do some coloring or cutting at the table.

- I set up something for the kids to do (a game, a craft, a train track) and they play with each other while I fix dinner. I intervene as needed.

Here is what actually happens:

- The kids start bickering on the way home about what kind of snack they are allowed to have.

- They whine and complain that the snack choices are "healthy" and try to bargain for a "regular" snack, despite years of the policy. No matter how much food I give David, he continues to beg for more until dinner is served. (I actually caught him hiding under the table the other day to catch the scraps that Luke dropped, like a dog. Not my finest parenting moment.)

- I drag Katy through the homework process. (And she's a good student and only has 10 minutes. Lord help me when I have a kid who isn't as motivated toward school and has hours of work to do!)

- Katy begs, pleads, and cries in request to invite the girl across the street to play. When the weather is nice, I don't mind at all if they play in the yard. But here's the thing: I don't know the family very well, and the girl is 2 years older than Katy. I don't get the impression that she really wants to play, unless there's nothing better to do. And certainly not every day, which is as often as Katy would like to invite her. I really don't mind having her over at ALL, but I just don't want Katy over there begging her to come every single day. This is hard to explain to a five year old who puts a seven year old on a pedestal.

- There are periods of play, mixed with fighting, thrown together with tears. I cannot let Luke leave my sight for more than 10 seconds, and I am constantly rerouting him from trouble. I feel guilty every time one of the kids comes up to me and pleads, "Will you read this book to me?" By the time Brian gets home, I feel desperate for him to arrive. But somehow, as soon as he walks in, I can't be sure why I was so flustered.

Any suggestions? What does this time look like at your house?

**side note: We are supposed to travel to my mom's this weekend and there's some snow heading this direction. We have tickets to a much-anticipated concert and I'm praying the weather doesn't force us to miss it.


Weed said...

It's a rough time in every home, I think. Would a video help? (I don't know how much you allow, so maybe they watch earlier in the day, and aren't allowed to watch later....but sometimes it helps calms things down for Rachel--Rebecca could care less about most things on TV. I don't know about your kids.) Maybe there's something else they love to do and you save it for that time of day so it's special?
Sorry I don't have much to offer in the way of suggestions. Just empathy!

bluedaisy said...

It is a tough time of day. The only thing that really helps me is if I am well-planned. Granted, it doesn't do much to change the kids' behavior. But if dinner is ready to roll at the right time & I've kept up with things during the day, I find that at least I am more calm. Unfortunately, my planning isn't always so great! Hope it gets easier for you soon :)