The witching hour…
I have done it. After three plus years of doing the school run, I have finally tackled the school run witching hour. It begins the moment you hear the click in the back seat…
You pick up your smiling child, perhaps hot and sweaty child, grab their gear from school and head to the vehicle. Shouts of goodbyes to her friends. Hands waving frantically at her best buds. Then it happens. The click. The click that lets you know to brace yourself. You have picked up your delightful child from school but the moment that click hits you know said child will now turn into a minion of Satan.
The lovely child is now SCREAMING like a banshee. Her sole purpose for existing is to make this drive home one of nightmares. Her shirt bothers her. Why did you pack the purple spoon in her lunchbox instead of the pink one? Layla had chips. Why didn’t she have chips? It’s too hot. It’s too cold. her sock is crocked. Her hair hurts. In a span of a mile, she has said no less than a million words and none of them are kind or encouraging.
We have all been there, right? Doing anything and everything to calm the beast that is in the back seat. Driving into the parking spot at home you want nothing more than to crawl into a bubble bath!
Hold up a second. Before you are ready to perform an exorcism on your child. Your lovely offspring is not possessed. She is being a kid.
If your kid is anything like mine you can relate. I started listening to my kiddo and came up with some thoughts. She has kept it together all day! ALL DAY! All day of being on…all day of working through things with her friends…all day of performing…all day of being in school. How many of you by noon will put your head in your hands and take a breather?
Also, children are not wired for self-care. So they go and go and go. Playing is HARD WORK! It is their job to play. When I pick my kid up from aftercare or from school she has played HARD! She is most likely hungry and thirsty. In the hot months, she is a sweaty mess! Remember, YOU are her safety. Mom or dad reading this. YOU are the one person she can get ugly with and know you will still love her.
So how did I tame the beast? Simple. First thing I do before getting her in her booster seat is to feed her. Usually grapes or some type of fruit with a lot of natural sugar. We have done gummies, chips, apples. She prefers grapes right now. The second thing I do is give her something to drink. She is clicked in, munching on her grapes and I hand her a juice box or a juice pouch. If it is in the warmer months it will be a nice bottle of cold water.
The next thing I do is ask if her she wants to talk about her day now or later. There are some things that happen at school that are so fantastic she wants to share right away. On the flip side, there are bad days and she needs some time to process events and may not want to talk about it just yet. On days where she does not wish to share we circle back to it at the dinner table. The drive home is quieter but it does not stop there.
When we arrive I try to give her a few minutes of undivided face time. No, I am not talking about the phone app. I am talking about spending a few moments with her uninterrupted. It could be sitting and watching a quick show. Or helping to prepare dinner. It could also be reading a quick book. Something that lets her know you are there. The last thing is not to ask anything from her. She needs a few moments of downtime.
If the weather is nice she goes outside. Some days she will head up to her room to play on her piano. It could also just be watching a show by herself. I know some of you will cringe as you want homework to get done first thing. Do what you need to do for your family. For mine, she needs that time to decompress. Her school day is long and her work is important. She takes the time needed to regroup.
Hang in there…
Ever since I have started using these techniques the school pick up has been much more enjoyable. I find she will now ask for a snack before I can give her one. In the super hot months, she just melts into the van with the AC on. I would like to be able to say I am one of those perfect moms and do this every day but I am not one of those moms. However, most days there is some form of this list.
Look at this list. Find the tools that work for you. You may have a few others. The most important thing to remember is when kids are in such a state they physically cannot access the reasoning part of their brain. Try to look past the words and behaviors and get to the root of the issue. Hot, tired, hungry! Adapt these tools to help you survive the witching hour school run!