Saving Time at the Witching Hour
You know what the witching hour is, at least if you have kids! The witching hour is that time in the late afternoon/early evening when the kids are home, someone is trying to get dinner on the table, and everything falls apart. It’s the time of day that babies, even the sweetest ones, turn colicky and fussy. It’s the time of day when your emotional reserves are drained and you are more likely to shout at your family and wonder if you should chuck it all and move to Vegas.
The witching hour is not a good time.
As a mom, I’ve found that my investments in time management pay off the most in the witching hour. That time of the day, from 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm in my world, is the time when I see if all my planning has actually paid off.
If I’m happily prepping a meal while my daughter watches some TV, I’ve beaten the witching hour!
So how do I do it? How do I beat the witching hour?
First I need to confess: I don’t always win. There are days when I pour myself a strong cocktail, yell at my daughter, turn on the TV, and climb into bed to hide under the covers while I beat myself up emotionally. There are days when my husband comes home and I greet him with a snarl instead of a kiss. I’m not proud of these days, but thankfully, every day passes, and every morning I get a fresh start.
But there are more good days than bad days, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. On a good day, I know exactly what we’re having for dinner, my daughter and I have had some quality time before the TV or iPad turns on, my husband is greeted with a kiss and a home cooked meal, and I feel an outpouring of gratitude for my blessings. How do I do it?
I really enjoy cooking and meal planning. I have invested in several cookbooks and I also have a few go-to meals that are quick and easy. My two favorite cookbooks are The Slow Cooker Revolution and The Make Ahead Cook. These cookbooks deliver great tasting food and are designed to be relatively easy. Every weekend I sit down, plan at least 3 meals for the coming week, write the grocery list based on that meal plan, and go grocery shopping. That may sound like a lot, but since I enjoy it, it’s not a burden. Why only 3 meals? Because with a family of 3, we usually get enough leftovers with 3 meals to avoid wasting any food.
Each week, while I’m meal planning, I look at my calendar for the coming week. I write in the time I’m going to be eating dinner with my family so I have enough time to prep it. When I know I’ll be home all day, I plan to cook a more labor intensive meal. When I know I’ll only have an hour or two at home before someone has to go out again, I plan one of my quick and easy meals. This is also helpful because if I need my husband to come home early, or pick up our daughter, I can communicate that to him in advance.
The real secret to any of my success is my willingness to be good instead of perfect. The vast majority of moms I know are doing really good jobs as moms, but they feel loads of mommy guilt because they aren’t being “great” or “perfect.” I’ve heard the saying that “good is the enemy of great,” but in the world of parenting, I’d like to suggest that “great is the enemy of confidence.” I cannot be a perfect mom. I cannot be a perfect cook. There are nights that my recipe falls apart. Nights that I forget to defrost meat. Nights that I just don’t WANT to cook, and instead take my family out to a restaurant. Instead of beating myself up, I give myself grace. I’m willing to be a good mom, a good cook, a good wife. I’m willing to fail sometimes. Because I’m going to fail, no matter what. Failure in the realm of parenting is inevitable. Strive to be the best you can be, sure. But when you fail, give yourself grace. Your kids will learn how to handle failure by watching you.