overcoming the dreaded witching hour..

It has been hot, hot, hot here lately. The hottest time of the day is around 4-5PM, and needless to say that is when Luke decides to have an alter ego of a banshee, and needs to work off some energy. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on what view you support), my kid is not a TV watcher. Try as I might, he is just not interested for more than 5 minutes. He has his moments, but it is a rare thing to see him sit on the couch and watch a show. 

There are many nights that I have to get very creative in finding things to do, so I can cook us dinner. I thought it would be fun to share with you some things that I have found help to keep him cool, calm and collected until our nightly walk after dinner! 

We LOVE the rice sensory bins. These keep him busy for a good 25 minutes and they are so easy to set out for him near the kitchen so I can cook while he plays.  Here is the link on how to make the colored rice. 

Luke loves painting and he is in the process of learning his colors, though he likes to mess with me and label everything as yellow! I send packages pretty often and I love using packaging paper to hide the "reused" box, so I have a plethora of this stuff around the house. I lay some out, tape it down and let him go to town on the paper. I will typically sit with him for 10-15 minutes to work with him on shapes and colors, and then let him loose. 

Luke's favorite toy is his play kitchen. We got that for him last Christmas, and I remember thinking that maybe he wouldn't like it. Well, I was dead wrong. He loves making us dinner and whipping up the latest pizza creation. So, I try to involve him as much as I can in the kitchen. He loves to mix things and can be such a good helper. This is a simple way to get them involved while getting dinner cooked. 

Who remembers this toy? These have saved us on many road trips, airplane trips and nights where he needs a calm activity. I think I got these from the dollar store, and they are such a hit! The first time that he successfully got the string through multiple holes was a big celebration in our house! The Melissa and Doug animal string is also a fun game for him, he likes to string them on while making the animal noise (as shown in second picture). 

This one can get a bit messy. We have a big enough kitchen that he can do this activity while I am in the kitchen, cleaning or cooking dinner. We just use dish soap and a few droplets of food coloring. I put the soap in the running water, let him play with just the bubbles for a few minutes, and then let him drop the droplets of food coloring into the bubbles. Their tiny hands may get some color on them, but use a small drop of vinegar and wash hands as normal, the color should come off. He loves it! 

Listen, they don't call it  "the witching hour" for no reason! The kids are getting hungry, they are attention hungry and they want you all to themselves. Things are not always biscuits and gravy over at the semibalanced house, after we did one of these activities we had a horrible night of tantrums and outbursts (both of us, trust me)! Parenting can be such a challenging thing, it can be hard to remember the fun times, but I always try to go to bed knowing that tomorrow is a new day and he will wake up just as excited to see me as he did the day before. 

Hopefully this list gives you a few ideas to help pass the time and keep the kids out of the hot weather (or cold weather, for all you winter people)!

Happy playing, 



  1. The paper on the floor is fun. We trace an outline of the boys and let them color themselves.

  2. These are great ideas! Sometimes when I babysit I wish I was more prepared with creative activities, especially when the weather is bad outside and we are cooped up in the house. One time I taped some parchment paper to the table and had the two-year-old go to town painting with food (pudding works well.) The parchment paper wasn't great because it didn't absorb well enough, but I felt like I was on the right track. ;)

  3. These are such great ideas! I don't have any little ones of my own but I love the ideas.