Capturing Creativity During the Dinner Craze!

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I’m convinced that no matter where you live, when the clock strikes 4pm, children turn into wild animals.

It’s the never-ending witching hour; those fragile post-school, pre-dinner minutes when kids are veracious with hunger and refuse to entertain themselves, inconsolable until a heaping plate is set before their half-mast eyes. Tension mounts as you long to sit on the floor and pull out project and homework assignment and recount the days happenings. Who did you play with on the playground? It’s the letter N today? Stories, end-of-the-day snuggles, throwing dinner responsibilities aside to run outside and chase the last hours of daylight call. All the while you stare at the clock, the small hand taunting you with dinner to be made, tables to be cleared of teacher notes and book order fliers, and set.

Crazy hour has commenced.

Parent friends, you know what I’m saying? Head. Nod.

How do our bless-ed kiddos know we’re winding down, fantasies of bath time and bedtime dancing in our head, and meanwhile they’re channeling their final ounces of energy into firework-like explosions of insanity!

I may have been known to call Bryan at this point to confirm that it is indeed 5:30 you are coming home, right- and not a minute later? Panic might have tipped him off to enter with caution.

Not gonna lie, my survival ammo from 4-5pm consists of PBS and zoned out boys on the couch.

An hour to capture my sanity, throw something semi-nutritious into a pot and pray it plates itself resembling a Barefoot Contessa recipe. It usually looks more like Trader Joes orange chicken, brown rice, and steamed veggies. Yawn.

Until now.

Since the wild animals cannot be caged, I might as well share a brilliant idea my husband {I can’t take credit for genius plots at witching hours} came up with to maintain our pre-dinner sanity and keep a healthy mother/child relationship intact for at least one more day.

This simple, creative tradition will buy you at least 30 precious minutes, free of monkeys hanging at your legs or whining, Mom, I’m huuuuuuuungry! tempting you to throw the rice against the wall and bore them {yet again} with your You had a snack an hour ago and there are kids who have nothing to eat at all tonight speech. Amen?

We’ve now embraced the dinner craze, pushed play on the Frozen soundtrack for the billionth time, and invited the boys to help.

To the office they go for computer paper and crayons, and for however long Elsa and Anna can keep their attention, they color and create placemats for however many will be seated around the dinner table. It’s brilliant and they LOVE it! Some nights it’s bugs and “guys” while others it’s self-portraits.

Down lay the placemats at each chair, then run four feet to the bottom drawer for kid plates and bowls. Setting the table has never been so exciting! Bowls and plates and cups are set. Fling! Utensil drawer opens and “mommy and daddy” silverware comes out.

“Let it go… ” sings the CD player. My heart rate resumes. I babysit the oven and watch the clock. Looking over, I see a table set by two little boys who love to pitch in and be creative in the process.

Placemat creating may be the best thing that has happened to our family since sliced bread. Let’s be honest, the dinner craze aint’ going anywhere, so we may as well make it fun. If you happen to join for dinner, be prepared for a pink creation staring up from your placemats by the artist known as Ty 🙂

Deep breath in. Now for cleaning up dinner and entering bath and bedtime zone. Lord, help us!

Do you have any traditions you do with your kids during this time of day? I’m all ears.

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