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What is your witching hour?

How to prevent a parental disaster

Prevent a parental disaster with these tips

We have all suffered through our children’s witching hour around dinnertime (typically between the hours of 4pm and 6pm)—the tantrums, whining, and arguing. 

But have you ever stepped back to notice that we have our own witching hour? If we don’t take some precautions, things could get pretty frightening at home. 

Several studies over the years point out how it may be harder for us to think clearly, make good decisions, and avoid making mistakes during the middle of the afternoon. This is due to our circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock that helps to regulate hormones in our brain to cause us to feel either sleepy or energetic. 

That mid-day slump time is widely referenced in the business world, but it also affects parents at home trying to take care of their kids.

study in The Journal of Neuroscience went one step further and discovered that our brain’s reward system also goes haywire around 2pm. Essentially, this system is responsible for helping us evaluate potential risks versus rewards to make an effective decision. 

The study found that rewards we receive in the morning or evening tend to come as more of a surprise than rewards we get in the afternoon. That surprise factor causes certain parts of the brain to light up more. This means we are better off avoiding some activities during our own witching hour to control our reactions to conflicts we may face.

If you want to avoid overreacting and saying something to your kids you will regret later, try these tips for making the best of your witching hour. 

Eat A Healthy Snack

Like our kids, if we go too long on an empty stomach, we are bound to lose our balance. Your best bet is to choose a snack that combines protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates to raise your blood sugar levels steadily and keep them up. This will give you a boost and help improve your mental performance and decision-making ability. 

Schedule Nap Time for Both You and Your Child

Feeling drowsy around 2pm is totally natural, according to neuro specialist Dr. Fiona Kerr. She explains that humans are physically designed to take two naps per day, although very few of us actually do. Our hormones ebb and flow throughout the day, typically dropping at that time. During this period, we have reduced attention capacity, executive function, working memory, quantification skills, logical reasoning, motor dexterity, and mood. Experts recommend taking a power nap for about 15 to 20 minutes during this time of day to recharge. 

READ MORE: Mindfulness for parents

Talk a Walk Outside

Another way to beat the 2pm slump is to head outside for a walk. Put your little one in a stroller or baby carrier and take a walk around your neighborhood or at a local park. This will get your muscles moving and oxygen flowing. 

Great time to breathe in some fresh air to reinvigorate you and soak in some nature, which offers so many benefits like stress reduction. Finally, being out in the natural sunlight can help reset your internal clock and give you a much-needed energy boost. 

Do Some Light Exercise and Stretch

Experts also recommend doing some light exercise and stretching to get through the slump. Try doing some yoga poses with your kids or put on some fun music and have a family dance party. 

Another option is to tap into technology to take a movement break using programs like Go Noodle. More than 60,000 elementary schools in the United States are using this creative online program to give their students active breaks throughout the school day. Why not use it at home for both you and your kids? 

Plan A Calm Activity

If you sense your mood heading for a dip, be sure to plan a calm activity for your kids so you can have some downtime. Maybe that is when your children use their electronics or watch a television program. Or send them to their room or another comfy spot to do some reading or coloring on their own. 

Accept Your Limitations

When all else fails and you notice a pattern that you are really struggling every day around the same time, plan ahead to get help. 

Hire a babysitter, invite a grandparent over, or work out a system with a friend or neighbor who will watch your kids for a couple hours at that time and you will do the same for them.


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