Everyone's tired after four in the afternoon. A long day wears you out. So the hours leading up to bedtime can be tough going. Here are a few tips!
• Accept that, come 4pm, your time will belong to your children.
• If you work, establish a ritual of returning to “parent mode” as you drive home. With each familiar shop, street or marker that you pass,let go of your expectations and move into parent mode. Use gentle reminders like “I know the house may be messy” and “It’s okay if I don’t have time to change my clothes”.
• Remember to take care of your own physical needs. Make yourself a good snack before the jungle hours start, and make sure you have something to drink.
• Don’t answer the phone. Let your answering machine get it or wait for them to ring back.
• Don’t engage in any crucial adult conversation unless it’s an emergency. Wait for a calmer time.
• Don’t make big decisions, plans, or take disciplinary actions in the midst of the jungle hours. It’s perfectly okay to say, “I’m not sure about this right now. I’ll let you know in the morning.”
• Do as much preparation as you can for dinner earlier, if possible. Rely on straightforward healthy meals you know will be accepted. Lots of mums recommend using a crock pot, or cooking in bulk and freezing half of what you make to use another night.
• Include your children in cooking. Even a toddler can help stir or mix. If not, give them their own bowls and fill them with the peels of the carrots, the crusts of bread or a handful of pasta and ask them to mix them for you. Don’t worry about the mess. It’s nothing a broom can’t fix.
• Stick to a routine. The same routine every evening can help. And then everyone else knows what to expect as well!
• But be flexible. For example, skip baths altogether if your children are unusually tired.
More suggestions? Your advice is much appreciated. Please add here.