The forts have all been built, the cups are all stacked. The pictures have all been Crayon-ed, the winks all tiddlied. No, it’s not the start of some third-rate lullaby. It is The Hour. And it is upon us once again.
You know the one I’m talking about, surely. Happens nearly every day. The actual time may vary slightly, but around here it is 4:30-5:30 p.m. The time of reckoning. The time when nerves are short, creativity is at a premium. And those kids just keep on coming.
The naptimes have all been exhausted. The snacks are done. That means no more respites. You’ve played upstairs and down, the toys lying around in various states of recovery. It is too late to risk the traffic and crowds out there, plus is it already dark. It’s too early to start dinner. And another long hour until reinforcements arrive. It is the tween time.
Here in the tween, you are tired, but it’s a bit late for more coffee, don’t you think? You’re encouraging independent play, but they just keep staring at you, like they’ve never seen these toys before in their young lives. It’s a little bit too close to my recurring nightmare I had while teaching in Japan: five minutes left in class, I have taught everything there is to teach. I have nothing left to say, and my students just sit and stare at me, watching me sweat. Waiting. Tick tock tick tock.
Time does seem to start slugging it. What time does Mommy get home again? Days can be long, full-on. You’ve made it this far, and there’s no turning back now. You’ve waded back and forth through all the turnstiles. You have to start asking yourself questions. Do I really want them to drag all the toys out all over again? Well, what else can we do? How long can I make a pillow party really last? Should I just cave and put on some Yo Gabba Gabba? Please don’t judge me.
I’m not the best planner. I can wing dinner, but I’ve learned you can’t fake your way through The Hour. I try now to save something. A new book, an errand, a project. Something, anything. Turn a negative into a positive. Instead of dreading The Hour, make it the best part of the day. A lot of it really is in your attitude. Easier said than done, for sure, and this is as much a pep talk for me as anybody.
How do you get through The Hour?