The following is by contributor Jaimie of Two Chicks and a Hen.
Our March theme, “Routine and Rhythm,” is something I think about often. For single parents, it’s especially important to plan ahead for the difficult times. With some thought and effort, we can create consistent, positive rituals to help us through the tough periods.
The witching hour, that period between afternoon snack and dinnertime, is challenging for most parents. As a single or sometimes-single parent, you cannot let the witching hour burn you out. Your day is still long from over, and there’s no one coming home to take over the reins or even to field your complaints. There’s still cleaning, the bedtime routine, and, for many of us, paid work that we accomplish after the kids are asleep. We can’t allow ourselves to run out of steam by the time dinner is on the table.
Managing the Pre-Dinner Hour
Whether you’ve just walked in from work or you’ve been home all day, and whether your kids have been with you for a week or have just returned from their other parent’s house (perhaps especially in this case), this time of day has the potential for chaos. Thankfully, since the witching hour is a daily occurrence, we have the luxury of planning for it.
If you’re having trouble managing the pre-dinner hour, try some of the following ideas:
1. Take five or ten minutes to center yourself before the witching hour begins.
This is something I’ve just started to do recently, and I’ve been amazed at how helpful it is. This ritual will differ from person to person, but you might spend five or ten minutes meditating, doing yoga, knitting, or having a cup of tea. Give yourself a moment to breathe, focus on your intentions for the next several hours, and start over from scratch, putting behind you whatever challenges you’ve already met during the previous ten to twelve hours.
2. Involve the kids in dinner prep if they’re interested.
Kids love to cook, and having them help you is a great way to pull them into your realm during this challenging period. It also gives you the opportunity to casually chat, something especially important if you’ve been separated from them for any period of time. If you’ve never involved your kids in cooking before, you might find that it prolongs the cooking time a little bit at first. After a very short time, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to see that once your children master a few basic cooking prep tasks, their help truly does make a contribution.