The post-nap/pre-dinner hours are undoubtedly the crappiest time of day to spend with small children. They’re wiped out from a long day at preschool, just woke up from a nap, or (lucky you!) didn’t nap at all. Whatever reserves of magical mommy-ness you woke up with have long-since been exhausted. The dinner/bathtime/bedtime slog looms before you, and “WHEN IS DADDY/MOMMY/THAT PERSON I LIKE WAY BETTER THAN YOU!” coming home, exactly?
There’s always the nuclear option (television), and you know I don’t judge. But at least with my kids, TV just delays the inevitable because they start freaking out all over again when “Wild Kratts” ends. So here are 18 solid ideas for curing those late afternoon blues:
Administer a High-Protein Snack ASAP. The hanger is real, y’all, but if your child stops screaming long enough for you to jam an organic cheese stick or peanut butter crackers into her angry little mouth, it will probably help.
Since you’re in the kitchen anyway (and you guys know I’m obsessed with this), now is the perfect opportunity to Involve Your Kids in Some Dinner Prep. Distract them with a task that makes them feel important (think cutting soft fruit with a butter knife) or involves pressing buttons that aren’t yours. (“Look, a blender!”)
Next line of attack: Fresh Air, preferably in a place where other bored, grumpy kids will be hanging out. Finding the mojo to get your troops to the park at 4pm is HARD, so try having a pre-scheduled park playdate with a friend who hates flaking or just let your kid run it out in his own backyard. (Crayola Window Crayons and water tables were made for just such desperate times.)
If outside isn’t an option, no problem: Just Get Moving. Drag out that dusty yoga mat that hasn’t seen daylight since mommy & me and play “yoga class.” My big kid loves the challenge of Tree Pose and my little kid thinks climbing under my Down Dog is hilarious. Have a dance party. (Because your kids won’t think your dance moves are awesome forever.) Play airplane. Do jumping jacks. (This all totally counts as exercise, by the way.)
Afternoon light is the BEST so it’s a Perfect Time For An Art Sesh. Because they’re tired and grumpy, forget crayons and bust out the big guns: paint, play dough, Magic Sand, Oobleck. Cleaning up messy art > listening to screaming.
You can also make a lemonade stand, host a playdate (potty-trained preschoolers + their friends = less work), mess around with Snapchat, play preschool (think worksheet, snack & “circle time”), none of which require any Pinterest-level craftiness or expensive trips to Michael’s. You’ve totally got this.