Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Magical Solutions for the Witching Hour

Dear Debbie,

It’s 5pm and my three kids are driving me insane. How can I save my sanity during the “witching hours?”

The Wicked Witch of Missouri

Dear Wicked Witch,

Here are a few magical ideas to make the witching hours–the ones between 4 and 7 pm when they need you and you need a spa–more angelic:

• Indulge yourself. No one’s happy if momma ain’t happy. Late afternoon is the perfect time to savor that fully-leaded coffee, piece of chocolate or other sin of choice.

• Make use of the bathtub. It’s not just for washing anymore. Bubbles, shaving cream, plastic cups, sponges, or water paints buy lots of whine-free time.

• Get outside. A nature walk, sidewalk chalk, a game of catch, or a few minutes on a bike let off cranky energy.

• Skip family dinner; have family dessert. Waiting until Dad comes home can push the limits of kid-sized stomachs. Feed the troupes early, get them ready for bed, and let them eat dessert when you dine later–with everyone in a better mood.

• Read a book. Why save books for bedtime? Reading, either together or alone, slows the pace of a hectic day.

• Put on festive music. Something jumpy, something fun, anything to set a fun mood.

• Do something shocking. Crazy hat afternoon. Inside-out clothing only. No forward walking allowed. Shake things up with a funny rule for the challenging hours of the day.

• Resign yourself to the floor. A few minutes of uninterrupted play with mommy stops their shirt-pulling and lets you feel less guilty when you escape to make dinner, return phone calls, or shut the door to the bathroom.

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