After racing the kids out of the house in the mornings to get to daycare on time and myself into the office, I feel terrible guilt at not having had quality time with them first thing in the morning. Mornings are hectic in our household.... the alarm goes off at 5.20am and I feel like I am racing from one thing to the next to get out the door for 9am drop off. Where does that time go? At the end of the day I am so excited about picking them up, and make it my life's mission to be there bang on 4pm. It's definitely a highlight. They are always so excited, and the cuddles are incredible. We have a fabulous drive home talking about what they have been up to, creating some tall stories, and general silliness.
The problem is, that again as soon as we get home, the day disappears. They are vying for my attention, and i'm trying to get the house into a more organised state, catch up on laundry, unload groceries and cook their dinner. All I want to do is just hang with them and have fun, but I dread those couple of hours before dinner when we get home as it generally goes pear shaped.... with sibling rivalry, tears and tantrums.
So I am making a conscious effort to reconnect with them during that time between arriving home and making dinner, and do you know what, now that I have my strategies in place, it is making for a far more chilled out mamma, and happier household.
What are my top 5 go to activities that are helping to make a happier 'witching hour'? This is where you'll find us from 4-5.30pm each day:
1. Walk around the block with the dog, buggy and 3 year old on his bike. Somedays if we have a little extra time, or the sun is still beautifully warm we stop by the fruit and vege shop, where they can choose one thing each for after dinner. I can get away with this now as the 3 year old thinks the dairy only sells icecreams on Sundays.... He's pretty smart so my days are limited!
2. Water the plants, this is definitely a favourite of theirs, and perfect when the days are longer. They think it's a huge treat to do this, and its actually a great help for this mum. We had a new lawn sown recently and it was the perfect way to put them to work each afternoon.
3. If they are exhausted from daycare they sit up and watch me make the dinner. They taste all the veggies as I cut them up, and generally finish them all before they sit down for dinner. Its a huge win for me. We talk about the textures and the taste, and half the time the broccoli doesn't make it to the pot, now they ask for crunchy vegetables not soft. Ha!
4. If the weather is cold I'll often swing by the library on the way home and let them choose a few books each, and a puzzle. I have only just found out that the library does puzzles! I love finding new books with them, it makes bedtime reading so much more fun when you're reading it for the first time instead of the 19th! They definitely have their favourites!
5. If they start to get cranky in the car after daycare pickup we head to the supermarket. Not because I need to do the weekly shop, but just to get a couple of things we may be getting low on, so that I can contain them in the double shopping trolley and they love seeing everything that is going on. They are always such angels for the checkout operator smiling, and blowing kisses that I have thought Pak n save should diversify into childcare!
I'd love to hear your ideas on what works with your little ones at the end of the day when everyone is exhausted. It's so lovely to be able to create an environment with them that is more conducive to reconnecting with them after a log day.