Monday, February 27, 2006

The Bitching Hour

'Round here, the bitching hour is more like 2.5 hours, and it begins, almost without fail, at 4:00. That's when Hazel, who is still tired enough to nap daily, but refuses to, starts getting punchy -- literally and figuratively (poor Violet). And it's when my limited supply of patience and good will towards my offspring starts flagging.

I used to make sure I was always home for the bitching hour. My take on it was, it's easier deal with tantrums, whining, etc., in the comfort and privacy of our house. But then I realized that part of what made the bitching hour so bitchy was being stuck inside, with Hazel loopy and ready to burst into tears at the slightest injustice, and me short-tempered, behind in my tasks for the day, and desperately in need of a latte.

So these days, the bitching hour is when we get out of the house. I try to schedule doctors appointments, playdates, library time, or bike rides, for the late afternoon -- and it works. Getting out, getting some fresh air, and doing something, anything, seems to be far better for our souls than sitting around our little house, growling at each other, and counting the minutes until bedtime, or the next time-out, whichever one comes first.

Here's what works for me in exercising the bitch from the bitching hour:

* A trip to Starbucks. I know, it's evil, but it's good coffee, dammit, and we all love the Maple Oat Nut scones. We used to walk down to the local coffee shop, but the older lady who owns/runs it looks at my tired, rumpled, running-out-of-gas little ones like they're the fruits of the devil, and once asked me if I ever spank Hazel.

* A walk, either to the park across the street, or, in the event of rain, just a walk, with umbrellas and rainboots and lots of puddle-jumping.

* A trip to the library. Our local branch is within walking distance, and has an amazing children's section, complete with floor pillows, kid-sized tables and chairs, and computer games.

* A playdate. I don't mind hanging out with other people's exhausted kids nearly as much as I do hanging with my own.

In the event of extremely inhospitable weather, an illness, a hangover, or any other really good reason for not being able to get your ass in gear and get moving, here are some suggestions for ways to exorcize the bitch from the bitching hour at home:

* Caffeine. Make yourself a good, strong cup of coffee, or tea with milk and sugar.

* Slow down. Do yourself a favor, and stop trying to get stuff around the house done. Just stop. Leave it for tomorrow.

* You time. Take five minutes alone, even if it means putting the baby in the crib and letting the toddler get away with murder, and do some deep breathing. I myself am what's called a "shallow" breather, and I find that taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and slowly, is amazingly relaxing.

* Bake cookies. It's hard to be mad/grumpy/sad when there's cookie dough up in the house, right? Let the kid/s jump in, and crack the eggs, measure the flour, etc. Sure, they'll make a mess, but the payoff is huge.

* "Yes time." Put on a good CD, your comfy pants, and just say "yes." Your kid wants to give her stuffed animals a bath in the kitchen sink? Yes. She wants to strip down and draw on herself with (washable) markers? Yes. Put stickers on the dog? Yes. Play with the vaccum/cordless phone/computer? Yes, yes, yes! Sometimes, just hearing you say "yes" to things you would normally forbid is enough to help your kid through the bitching hour.

And if none of this works for you? Well, then, please, share what does. 'Cuz I'm running out of ideas, and at 2:40 p.m., the bitching hour is almost upon us.


Blogger Binky said...

I am going to take some of this advice. My coping mechanisms could use a little fine-tuning. Thanks for the suggestions and the good read.

4:22 PM  
Blogger lesley said...

put stickers on the dog! haha!
i hate that lady at the indie coffee store! the nerve!

10:57 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

For me, exercising the bitch generally involves me hauling my fat ass to a pilates class. ;)

3:21 PM  
Blogger you say laura, i say gretchen said...

in my office right around now is the bitching hour. it's when i get pissed at my coworker whose voice is as shrill as a toddler's. plus she never stops talking. so i recommend headphones!

3:37 PM  
Blogger Krisco said...

I love this post. We so have the witching hour, all afternoon post nap until dinner. The afternoons are the hardest, I always say.

Maybe getting out is the answer. I try to keep them entertained, and let them watch The Street (Sesame that is) around 4 so I can make dinner. But turning the tv off and getting them to the table can be tough...(I've found feeding them early, like 5:15 or so, really helps. Even with an afternoon snack they can't *quite* make it til 6 without meltdowns otherwise...

1:33 PM  
Blogger GIRL'S GONE CHILD said...

You should patent the term, "bitching hour" Smart! I think I'll just sit and be happy that Archer is not mobile yet. Whenever little man is grumpalish, I toss his ass in the stroller and we go offroading. It is the only thing that works. That and setting him up with the dogs. Poor tortured dogs.

4:46 PM  
Blogger shane said...

Strolling rules. It doesn't occur to me often enough. It's the perfect escape for both of us, right about that stage, maybe 3 in the afternoon, where I'm just moments away from offering "anything you want, if you just... stop... talking". If I need to get anything in better shape before #2 comes along, it's my tolerance for endless babble. And my abs. My one-pack.

3:21 PM  
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