I have struggled for years with how to manage the arriving home from work process. It has always been hard, and even though my kids are now three, it’s not getting any easier. We’ve all heard about the witching hour, well it’s more like the witching hours in our house. From 5 to 8 pm my kids are pretty bad. They’re getting tired and hungry and are prone to melt downs. I’ve been at work all day and just want to kiss and cuddle on my kids when I get home and not be the enforcer. It’s such a bummer to come in and immediately haul kids away from the dinner table and banish little ones into time-outs.
I actually DO know they’re sweet precious kids because they’re cool on the weekends. We wake up and laugh and play and have fun, so I realize it is just the time. Unfortunately, we working moms (parents) get the short end of the stick because that’s the only time we see them during the week.
While managing the crazy two meltdown hours is certainly hard, one of the hardest things is the first five minutes upon arriving at the house. I’ve been trying out different techniques lately, and I don’t have it down yet, but here are a few tips working for me right now:
- Pee at work. I know this sounds ridiculous, but if I don’t pee before I leave work, then I have to go as soon as I get home (I have about a 35 minute commute). I’m always rushing out the door to hurry to the car at work, but if you spend the extra two minutes to run to the bathroom there it is so much easier for you and the kids and you can avoid an audience (until you finally DO go at home).
- Have your iPhone/Blackberry or any other work technology put away before walking in the door. There’s no bigger bummer to a little kid than you walking in and them being so excited to see you but you still being plugged in for work. If you have to take a call, then take it from the car in the street so they can’t see you in the driveway. If you have to return an email, do the same thing – respond before walking in while you’re in the street not the driveway. They missed you. Don’t touch work, unless there’s a major emergency, until they’re in bed.
- Have a chair/shelf/drawer by the back door (or wherever you enter the house). As soon as I walk in my kids are running for me, so my jacket/shoes/purse just get dropped on this chair at our back door and I can drop to my knees and give hugs and kisses unencumbered. I also take off particularly tantalizing jewelry in the car so it doesn’t get broken – I’ve been angry mom over broken necklaces before so I’m doing a little preventative medicine.
- Don’t make an elaborate dinner when you arrive home. I generally do one of three things. One, use my crock pot. That’s one or two nights a week. That not only covers the meal being done upon my arrival but also takes me to solution two. Two, leftovers. Casseroles and crock pot meals are perfect for this. Reheat and presto, dinner. Three, prebuy. There are a few good pre-done options at places like Costco. This week we had their turkey spinach lasagna for dinner. All I had to do was warm up some vegetables or put dressing on a salad (yes, my kids like lettuce, I’m so lucky). It’s easier if you have some uninterrupted time with them – say 20 minutes – before distractions hit, and dinner is the number one reason for my nearly immediate distraction from the kids.
This has not solved the meltdowns or time-outs or general witching hour issues, but it has made the first 15 minutes I get home happier for all involved. If you can help me figure out how to survive the following 2 hours, then I’ll buy you dinner