When we asked what time of day is most stressful for you, we had so many responses about what’s commonly called the “witching hour”—that stretch between after school and before bed. Maybe at your house it’s at homework time. Maybe it’s when you’re trying to get dinner on the table (or out of the to go bags). Or maybe it’s a struggle to finally get everyone in bed so you can relax or get done what’s left on your to do list.

Hopefully these suggestions will take the stress out of the stretch between the end of the school day and time to sleep!

If homework time is your biggest struggle, try …

  • Doing it at the same time each day. There’s no debate about whether he’ll start at 4:00 or 6:30. It’s the same every day, no matter how much he has to do.
  • Having everything he needs ready and in a designated spot. My son has to write out his spelling words in rainbow colors each week so we have a drawer in the kitchen with the markers he uses, pencils, and a sharpener. Everything he needs is ready when he’s ready.

If dinner prep is your biggest struggle, try …

  • Menu planning. If you know what you’re going to make for dinner by 9:00 am, it makes the process much smoother! There are lots of great methods, and what works for you depends a lot on your personality, so search Pinterest for ideas and keep trying until it works for you. Even if you just plan one evening a week, like Taco Tuesdays, it will be less stressful for you.
  • Doing prep work ahead of time and use your crock pot or instapot when possible! Can you chop the veggies right after lunch? Or brown the ground beef? Or throw it all in the crock/instapot so it’s ready when you are? It saves time and stress!

If getting your kids to their evening activities is your biggest struggle, try …

  • Carpooling with other parents when possible. My older son has play rehearsals three times a week on the other side of town from where we live. The theater group gathers everyone’s addresses to share so we can figure out who lives close for carpooling together.
  • Limiting their activities. I know it can be hard, but maybe each child picks one sport or activity  each season. It may just be too much to have an activity each night, like you may have if you’re in basketball, Boy Scouts, Awana, and piano lessons. When it’s basketball season, our son doesn’t do any plays. It helps him be able to do his best at what he’s committed to at that time.

If getting your kids to go to bed and stay in bed is your biggest struggle, try …

  • Going through the same routine each night so his body knows it’s time to sleep. Do a bath, read a book, pray, and then it’s time to sleep. If he’s especially head strong, this post from Focus on the Family is helpful.
  • Using essential oils. We defuse lavender at bed time to help the boys calm down and it’s been a big help!  (Our co-founder Brooke knows how helpful essential oils can be and can help you decide if they would work for you family. Learn more here.)

What works for your family during this tough time of day? Let’s learn from each other!