Winning Witching Hour

Winning Witching Hour

For those of you who feel like some days are a race to bedtime, you are not alone! Evening “witching hours” can be challenging, especially when, for some of us, these post-work hours are some of the only moments we get to spend with our little ones! In this post, we’ll explain the “why” behind witching hour. We’ll also give you a few ideas for filling that time because, when everyone is tired, simple is exactly what’s needed!

Disclaimer: More often than not, if you walked into my house between 5 and 7:30 pm, you would not think we were “winning” witching hour. In fact, you may think that we were completely bombing it! With a 9 month old, 3.5 year old and 5.5 year old, our house is generally chaotic. (Unless everyone’s sleeping of course–thanks, Moms on Call!) We’re trying to cook dinner, break up fights between our boys, keep our 3.5 year old from jumping off of things, make sure the crawling baby is within sight at all times, feed the dog, help with homework…all of the things.

What I’m learning (and trying to embrace) is that chaos is okay! Crying is okay! Whining is okay! Especially during these times of day when everyone is exhausted, overstimulated and/or hangry. It is 100% normal and expected for this to be a fussy time of day for everyone – babies, toddlers and even us sometimes!

To me, winning witching hour doesn’t mean that our kids are calm and happy. Winning has to do with how we handle it. We win when we have grace with ourselves and each other. And it never hurts to have a few simple ideas ready to help occupy everyone and redirect when needed.

Why do our little ones have a witching hour?

It’s important for you to know that this fussiness is in no way a reflection of you as a parent! Nor does it mean that something is wrong with your little one! It is perfectly normal and healthy for babies and toddlers to be tired after having fun all day learning new skills, communicating and playing with others. These are all wonderful, tiring things! They use these last few hours before bedtime as an opportunity to burn off any remaining energy — which may involve some fussiness.

What are some things I can do to help manage witching hour fussiness?

Put your phone away.

A few months ago, a friend encouraged me to put my phone away for the few hours between when everyone gets home and bedtime. It felt silly and unnecessary at first because I’ve never seen myself as being tied to my phone. Begrudgingly, I gave it a try and was blown away by the difference in how it made me feel!

Turns out that even brief distractions, like reading a text or checking my email, were totally derailing my train of thought from being intentional with my family. It feels really good to look at my kids’ and my husband’s faces instead of a screen. I find that I feel lighter and happier too.

Of course, life happens and things come up, so it is not be possible every night, but I encourage you to at least try it and see what a difference it makes!

Understand their needs.

Much like adults, little ones all decompress differently after a long day. They may need:

  • An activity
  • Some space
  • To be close to you
  • A change of scenery

It depends on the day, but normally our 5.5 year old does really well with an activity, like Legos. Our 3.5 year old wants to be close to us. And our 9 month old needs a little space to chill. Pay attention to their cues and you’ll figure out what works best!

Have some activities in mind.

Regardless of my kids’ moods, I find myself having a lot more grace and actually enjoying this time when I have a loose plan. Depending on what’s going on that night, I try to have a few ideas in mind when everyone gets home.

Here are some of our favorite witching hour activities:

  • Going for a walk
  • Helping with simple tasks while we get dinner ready. (Folding napkins, stirring, shaking spices, etc.)
  • “Washing” dishes (It’s amazing how much filling a cup up with water and pouring it out or making soap bubbles can entertain them!)
  • Hanging out in their high chair or bouncer while we talk and sing with them as you get dinner ready.
  • Giving them space and the opportunity to figure it out and play independently.
  • Wearing them. I grab my CO Carrier and put it on for some hands-free snuggle time!
  • Building something with them and then giving them the opportunity to finish it themselves. (Legos, blocks and puzzles are great!)
  • Playing a game. (I Spy, Simon Says, Spot It, and Guess Who are some favorites that they can play while you prep dinner.)
  • Taking turns picking different songs to play while coloring or drawing. The impromptu dance party that sometimes starts is the best.
  • Adding a fun twist to bath time like popsicles, legos or bubbles.
  • A fine motor activity like Play-doh.
  • Listen to a podcast. There are some great short story podcasts available!
  • Costume party!
  • Tummy time. Get out that energy!
  • Ordering takeout and enjoying a family movie night. (Yes, some screen time with healthy boundaries is okay!)

Keep it simple.

Don’t stress about the details or go DIY crazy. Improvise with what you have and embrace the wonderfully fun chaos!

We’d love to see how you spend this time with your little ones! Share your “winning witching hour” moments on social and tag us @momsoncall. Is there a topic you’d love to see a blog post about? Send us a DM or email We love hearing from you!

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