The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today, before we get started on our awesome topic, we wanted to respond. We had some great feedback from you guys, which we love, but one of the things we’ve heard is you wish our show was longer, which we are humbled that you’d want to listen to us.
Laura: Quite flattering.
Emily: We wanted to share with you guys why we have chosen the format that we have. That is primarily because it’s accessible for moms and it’s something that they can listen to in a short period of time, while you’re doing a quick errand or you are doing a quick chore. It also is a great way for Laura and I to practice being succinct, and trying get the truths across that we think are important. We know that the more we talk, the more room there is for error and so we also want to be wise in our words.
We totally hear you guys that we don’t cover everything that we could in each episode so if you want to hear more, we do have some options for you. We are trying to offer some videos on periscope, I think we are @RisenMotherhood, and on Facebook; we also have some videos on there. Generally, we try to talk about out topic for the week and then we also push out a lot of articles on our social media. If you’re following us on Twitter, or on Facebook, you can find a lot of resources that talk probably about everything we do, about what is going on or other articles we’ve written that are way more in-depth, so definitely check those out.
Also, if you have a question about something that we didn’t cover in an episode, and you have this burning desire to find out more about it, we would love it if you guys would email that to us, or contact us on social media and let us know what your question is. If it makes sense for us, we may record a whole episode on it.
Laura: Yes, please give us ideas. Emily and I are bursting at the seams with ideas but we would love to hear, specifically, what you guys want to hear about. We know we’re constantly like, “Oh, we ran out of time.” We’re going to work on that, but as Emily has just said, it’s protection for us and we hope that it makes it more accessible to more moms.
Now, what are we talking about today? We are talking about that terrifying time of night that all moms have. It is like an epidemic with children from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., bedtime. It’s commonly referred to as “the witching hour”.
Emily: We know that you guys can picture the witching hour, in your mind right now.
Laura: Are you shuddering? I’m sorry if you are. Hopefully you’re listening to this during the witching hour and it’s not so bad. We want to talk about how to do witching hour well and how to take back those last few hours of the day. Em, do you want to share what your evening is like? We thought we’d swap stories.
Emily: My kids wake up from naps pretty early. Usually by 1:30 or 2:00, I’m already looking at the clock, a little bit like, “We’ve got a little bit of time.”
Laura: That is so stinking early. I would die.
Emily: I know! They want to go down for naps about 12:30 and in order to sync it with the baby, that’s what I’ve had to do so it’s fine. By about 3 o'clock, I have run out of every trick up my sleeve.
I have done the crafts, I have done the outside play, practically everything. Generally, I would say I have about two and a half hours to fill. During that time, I try to tap grandparents like, “Can you come over and make my children smile?” and try to do even more outside time. That’s great when it’s nice outside. I don’t know, what else we do? I should get more things up my sleeve, because usually I’ve got two to three out of my four kids literally clinging onto my legs. That full body wrap and you’re like, “I can’t walk. You need to go do something else.”
Laura: Especially if you’ve got three of them on your legs. Oh, my word! I think it’s so funny because when I worked, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., or 4 to 7 p.m. used to be "happy hour." Now it is anything but. We have renamed it to witching hour.
My kids take really long naps to accommodate my husband’s work schedule. They sleep from about two to four. I don’t let my older one sleep past four. My daughter might sleep until five and I have been blessed with good nappers. I have the evening but my evenings go longer, so typically my kids don’t go down until eight to give them a little more time with dad. I have the same amount of time in the end but it’s a lot at the end of the day. My daughter used to have colic and she has always been a fuss monster. Evenings have always been really difficult with her crying a ton. I usually reserve TV for that time and we don’t have any other tv time during the day - then it’s this magical box that keeps them a little bit quiet for a while.
But I feel like everyone’s drained at the end of the day. I feel like my kids are super-bored with me, I’m bored with them, and like you said, we’ve exhausted all the activities. I’ve started going on errands sometimes in the evening. It helps getting the distraction because in the morning they’re much more content on their own.
Emily: What Laura and I want you guys to hear is that this is normal. We know that you guys have your own stories as you’re listening to this. You’re like, “I can relate to that,” or, “My kid is way worse than that,” or whatever. It’s just at that time of day, generally, kids are hungry for dinner. Like Laura said, they are bored, they have done everything, and you have done everything as well.
They might be over stimulated by this point in the day, depending on how many activities you’ve done, or whether you’ve really gone about at their routine. Maybe they’re transitioning home from a caregiver or maybe you’re busy, and you’re cooking, and you’re trying to pick up the house. You’re maybe more distracted than any other time of the day and all of a sudden, the kids sense that.
Laura: They do. They’re like, “Mom’s busy, I’m going to make sure she focuses on me.” That’s their whole goal in life.
Emily: It’s very normal.
Laura: I was even Googling around for a study and while I couldn’t find anything that scientifically said that we’re wired to be crankier at the end of the day, there were lots of general psychologists talking about how blood sugar is low, and we’re all getting more tired; fatigued. It’s a very distracting time. We’re trying to multitask with dinner and all of those things and this is real; it’s a real thing that happens.
Knowing all of this and being able to relate to each other on this, where does Gospel fit into that? We want to reemphasize that making Jesus our greatest treasure transforms everything we do as moms. At the end of a day, often we are tired, as we’ve talked about and so we’re looking for the easy way out. We’re sick of disciplining and we’re not quite as on point with patience or being as committed to dealing with bad behavior. We’re pushing our kids off and we don’t want to deal with everything.
I think remembering that Jesus Christ died on the cross; he suffered all of our sins so that we could have this amazing wealth of righteousness to bring to our families. That comes at the end of the day too and He is our power source for that time. We want to put our relationship with Him above our other priorities, and that should transform the way we respond during this so-called “witching hour.”
Emily: Totally and I personally struggle with that a lot especially towards the end of the day. If someone were to peer into my life, they might think, “Emily values her peace and quiet more than she values her relationship with her children,” because I am doing everything I can to get everything to be a certain way in our house, even if that means I have to speak harshly to my children or I have to push them to the side, or whatever those things are.
I always have to remind myself that my children are not the interruption. My relationship with them is important and I want to disciple them. That’s my main responsibility; passing on my faith. I do that by imaging Christ and by setting an example. It’s a mind shift and that heart shift of saying, “No, this is my relationship with my children. It is important. I need to stop and address this.” My to-do list is important too. It’s not unimportant, but there’s an order there that we want to keep in mind.
Laura: When we remember how patient and long-suffering God is with us, we can reflect that back to our children. We want to let His mercy and His grace to motivate us to have sweetness with our children at that time of the day, to have grace and patience with them when they are going up the wall.
The flip side of that that we wanted to talk about too, is something I do sometimes and that’s losing my temper with my kids. I actually tend to more be the silent treatment type of mom. I know this is so immature. I rarely yell at my children but I often will not speak to them because I’m so mad. I know that if I speak, I will lose my temper, but I’ve already lost it in my heart and I’m choosing to give them the silent treatment. You better believe it works on my kids; they get real nervous whenever mom’s quiet. [laughter]
Sometimes I can often be like, “I’m tired. I’m sick of this. I’ve worked so hard all day. I’ve done everything I can for these children and they are not grateful.” The common term we like to tell ourselves is, “grace upon grace,” which soothes the soul. I don’t want to say that that “grace upon grace” is untrue, but if you’re getting to the end of the day and saying, “It’s okay. God will forgive me if I lose my temper here, because 'grace upon grace,'” well, that is an area of cheapening grace.
Emily: Once we understand what grace costs, we don’t want to presume upon it and use it as an excuse to sin in our heart and in our actions.
Let’s jump into the practical as well because we understand running out of patience. Laura and I certainly don’t have all the right answers, but we’ve tried a few things here and there and wanted to pass some of that along.
Laura: The biggest thing to remember is that towards the end of the day, it’s going to require a lot of hard challenges. There are a lot of practical things like reserving special toys for after five, or sending them outside or feeding them earlier; things like that. But I think the biggest thing to get across too choosing your attitude during that time. If you get to the end of the day and you’re doing that day on your own effort, you will run out of patience and you will lose your temper.
There’s a quote that says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I’ve always loved that. My mom would say that to me all the time and I would roll my eyes as a high schooler but today, I think she is so right, that it is 90% how you react to it. When your children are pestering you , and nagging on you , and begging for food and acting like you have literally never fed them [laughter] before in their lives, remember to "choose your attitude." Know that you have power over a bad attitude because of what Christ did for you.
Emily: Be intentional. A lot of days I’m shocked that this happens and I say to myself, “What did you guys turn into at three o'clock?” but this happens every day. We can be intentional and at the beginning of the day, focus on some of those self-care things that Laura and I have talked about like, "What do we need to do to be pacing our self throughout the day?" so that we are not giving all of what we have, so that by one o'clock in the afternoon, we have nothing left to give.
Or whenever it is that you see your children, maybe it’s four o'clock and you’re like, “I’ve already given all I have today.” Try to pace yourself.
Continuing to depend on God throughout the day, either through quiet time or through prayer, or through whatever you need to do to keep your focus on the main thing is important. Then looking intentionally at your day and saying, “How can I front load some of my responsibility?” because it does seems like a lot of things converge at that five-six o'clock hour. How can you intentionally say, “I’m going to prep dinner earlier,” or, “I’m going to not let my kids get out as many toys after nap time so that I don’t have as much to clean up.”
There’s a lot of those things that takes a little bit of thought but when you do that, it is amazing. Whenever I decrease the amount of activities I’m trying to get done I can just focus on my children - they’re a lot happier and I’m a lot happier, and I do see more of that pacing myself - but it takes planning moms. We want to encourage you guys to put in that effort and that it’s worth it.
Laura: Should we take a moment here and thank God for the Crock-Pot? [laughter] We don’t get too deep into tips here because you will find those a dime a dozen online, but we will link to some that have been phenomenal and helpful to us. Definitely go into our show notes. If you’re looking to take back those last hours of your days; take back the witching hour, I think there will be lots of great tips for you. We want to encourage you today, wherever you’re at, that those evening hours are coming. Today, make a change in how you deal with them and start with your heart, ladies.
You can find us on risenmotherhood.com for all of our social profiles, on Facebook and Twitter and Periscope. Certainly tune into Facebook this week. I’m sure we’ll have some videos up there. We hope you ladies have a wonderful day today and thanks for tuning in.