The Witching Hour
The phrase, The Witching Hour, has many different meanings. However, for parents, there is only one definition that matters. It’s that hour (or hours) of the early (to late) evening that your baby screams and cries for no specific reason. There is also no calming method that seems to work.
It is something that is exhausting and frustrating for everyone involved.
So, when does it end? When can you have a peaceful night with your family? I’m talking about the different phases of the witching hour, and why I’m not sure it ever ends.
Don’t get discouraged! I’m also sharing what I’ve learned on how to make it better.
The Baby Witching Hour
I don’t remember if my first baby ever went through this phase, but I distinctly remember when the twins introduced me to the witching hour.
It would happen a little after dinner time. One would start crying, grunting, and whining. Then, the other would start. I would take turns holding them, or would use my feet to rock them both in their rock ‘n plays, but nothing would seem to help.
Side note – Preemies Grunt. Loud. They eventually grow out of it, but man, it was weird and loud.
I was beginning to lose my mind, and I mentioned something to our home health nurse. She came a couple of times a week to measure the boys and take their vitals, since they had just gotten home from the NICU.
She didn’t look at me like I was crazy. She simply nodded her head and told me it was their witching hour.
She said that after a day of stimulation, they were just letting out all of their stresses.
Stresses? They were babies. What did they have to be stressed out about?
She explained, as a baby, there are so many new things to take in, it can all be a bit much. This screaming/crying/whining was just a normal way to blow off steam after a long day of learning.
I had no idea. It did make sense, but it certainly didn’t make it any easier at the time.
As they got past the newborn stage and used to being home, I thought our days of the witching hour were over.
I was wrong.
While it wasn’t exactly the same as when they were babies, the end of the day was always a little tougher. I would count down the minutes until my husband would get home.
Everyone was tired, hungry, and sick of looking at the same faces all day.
We were in isolation for 2 winters, so we couldn’t go out much.When we did, going out with all three boys was a lot to handle.
Anyways, those hours between dinner and bedtime were hard.
So, we finally made it to school. I thought the witching hour was a thing of the past.
When my boys get home from school, they are terrors.
They are hungry. They are tired. They fight with each other about every little thing.
They have to be so well-behaved all day in school that when they get home, it’s time to let loose. Unfortunately, I, and not my husband, have to be the one to try to calm the storm of craziness.
And it sure is crazy.
What to Do?
No matter which stage of the witching hour you are in, it can feel like it’s the worst. You will not make it another day. You just want to tag out.
No more whining. No more crying. No more fighting.
However, there are things you can do at every stage to make things just a bit easier on yourself and your child/children.
A Few Ideas
- Stay Calm
While I often want to scream and cry myself, I know it’s not going to help anyone. Children model behavior, and if you can be a calming force, it will only help them get there. Eventually.
How do you do this? How do I do this? Lots of deep breaths and small breaks in the bathroom. Lots of deep breaths.
- Have supplies ready
When my boys get home from school, I have snacks or dinner ready now. I wait at the door to grab their backpacks so they can book it to the bathroom. I hug them. I let them all talk at once.
I may also have wine or Tylenol for myself waiting in the kitchen.
When they were babies or toddlers, I tried to get them to eat before they really got hungry.
I’ve also found that reading is a great way to soothe no matter what the age.
- Pass the Baby
Yes, you should let your significant other have a few minutes to themselves when they get home from work. Then, take a minute for yourself, and let them parent for a bit.
After a full day with kids, you’ll have your own witching hour if you don’t take some time to take care of yourself. Take a hot shower or eat some chocolate in the bathroom. Put in some ear plugs and read for 10 minutes.
I’m definitely not an expert, nor do I always abide by the advice I’ve given. Those hours can feel like weeks, and it can be hard to see the end in sight.
Even though the witching hour may not really end, it does change. As school aged boys, they are easier to understand. They can communicate with words. Even though they might not always know exactly what they want, I can definitely get a better idea.
So, hang in there! I’m here with you, and I feel your struggle, no matter what time of the day it is.
Have you experienced the witching hour? Any tips or tricks for me?