5 Ways to Survive the ‘Witching Hour’ with Toddlers

Regardless of what you call it, there seems to be that time between the hours of 4pm and 6pm, when most babies and young children fall apart.  Whether you’re a working or stay-at-home parent, these 5 tips will help you!

You walk through the door, dump your bag on the table, and before you can even greet your family, your toddler tears off his nappy and proceeds to run through the house naked, the twins fight over the toys, vying for your attention, and the dog decides to bark his brains off because your babysitter’s boyfriend has just arrived on his motorcycle which seems to be missing a muffler.  Welcome to the witching hour.

Whining, crying, arguing, rambunctious behavior, you name it. During this taxing time, parents are faced with the most stressful part of their parenting day and do everything in their power just to survive! Whether you’re a working or stay-at-home parent, these tips are for you.


Tip #1:  Take 10 minutes for yourself first

Take some time out for yourself. Yes, we said it! Take 10-minutes for you! If you’ve been at the office all day or on the road, take a 10-minute walk on the way home, or simply sit in the car listening to music. The key is timeout for you. If you’ve been busy at home all day with your children, find a place where you can sit with a book or glass of wine and relax for a little bit. Even if this is in the bathroom. A friend copes by reading a couple of chapters of her book, they don’t have the TV on during the day, so she puts 10 minutes for nursery rhymes on, so everyone has some timeout and are a little more refreshed and ready to handle dinner prep with tired little ones vying for her attention.


Tip #2:  Create Stimulating Activities

girl running in field

Sometimes quiet activities like colouring in and puzzles do not work at this time of day as they are too restless. We go by that old saying if you can’t beat them, join them. We play a fun game each night before dinner. This is a four-way win: 1) They burn off some agitated energy 2) You get a little workout 3) It’s a great stress reliever 4) They get the attention they are wanting. Here are some suggestions

  • Play an action-packed game of Simon Says or Tag
  • Play Hide and Seek indoors or out
  • Play Beat the Clock. Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and see how fast your kids can pick up their toys, clothes, and other items that they’ve been playing with all day.  Turn this into a contest amongst siblings and/or with you and give out little rewards for winners. 


Tip #3:  Connect with your little one

girl in arc assistant learning tower

Meal prep is a great time to spend connecting with your child. Whether they like being up high at your level, helping with the dishes (aka bubble fun) or playing at the bench, simply because that is where you are, include the Arc Assistant Learning Tower. This way they feel connected with you and you have two hands free to prepare dinner while your little one plays and helps happily standing up at kitchen bench height. Asking your child to help you allows them to feel responsible and gives the two of you some extra time in the process.    


Tip #4:  Make bath time fun

boy in bucket of water

Convincing your children to take a bath can be tough, but bath time doesn’t have to be a chore. When the whining becomes too much, bringing in some fun new bath toys can easily get your children excited again. Tapping into their creative side with some basic art supplies can also do the trick. No matter the method, getting your kids to think of bath time as anything but a boring daily routine can really ease the groaning. Here are a few things that have worked for us

  • Let them bring a doll into the tub. Waterproof dolls are an easy way to give your child a new bath companion. They can even practice washing different parts of the doll to build good bathing habits!
  • Bring in a squirt toy. Stock up on a few. If you’re bathing more than one child at a time, make sure it doesn’t turn into a battle between the two. Try adding a target circle at one end of the bath for target practice so they’ll aim for that instead of each other.
  • Blow some bubbles. Kids can have fun blowing bubbles in a regular bath, but adding some dish soap can really get things going. This doubles as an excellent way to calm your child down during a temper tantrum.
    • Squirt a small amount of dish soap into a bowl
    • Give your child a straw and show them how to blow


Tip #5:  Reward Yourself

glass on juice

 As a parent, there are days when you feel like you're constantly making mistakes. That's why you need a little pick-me-up. Once dinner is over and the children are in bed, if nothing went to plan we treat ourselves anyway. In one our cupboards up high, out of reach of little hands, we have a stash of chocolate our favourite red wine and other bits and pieces that makes us happy. Whatever it is that gives you happiness, take the time to reward yourself for doing your best.

Children will be children and however you manage the “Witching Hour” time of day should not be judged by anyone. Often, we’re our own worse critics, so try not to judge yourself either.