The Witching Hour

For moms with young kids, the dinner prep hour is often referred to as ‘the witching hour.’  There’s a good reason for this! The kids are tired, having played all day. Mom is tired, having homeschooled and entertained kids all day. Dad is not quite home yet, and little tummies are growling.


At our house, this hour before dinner has long been the TV hour. I have a love/hate relationship with my television, as I’m sure many of you do. It is so easy to turn on, and kids that were whining are instantly quiet. It’s a built-in babysitter. But it’s also very addictive for my kids. They can never get enough.

So at our house, we have some pretty strict TV rules, which are helpful for both me and the kids. They are not allowed to ask about watching a movie. They know that when it is time, I will tell them. I usually pick what movie they will watch to avoid bickering (I try to alternate between things that appeal to my older son and things that appeal to the little girls. If somebody does not like what has been chosen, they can go read in their room). When I tell them it’s time to turn it off, they must turn it off immediately, even if they’re not done with the movie.

Our habit is to watch a movie a day, in the dinner-making hour. So it’s not just from 5 to 6, it’s usually more like 4:15 to 6, and they get to finish the whole movie. We don’t have cable, so they aren’t seeing any commercials, but we do have Netflix and Amazon prime for them to watch movies on.

This is how I manage. I have phases where I really wish that my kids were TV-free during the week. But it’s just not realistic for me. With kids quiet in the living room with a movie, dinner prep becomes more peaceful and enjoyable for me, allowing me to greet my husband with a smile instead of a groan and a crying baby, and that pay-off is  totally worth it.

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5 Responses to The Witching Hour

  1. Emily says:

    I have to say again how helpful this is for me. I tend to think that days I avoid using the TV are successes and days I resort to the TV mean I’ve failed as a mom. But my attitude is much more important, whatever resources I use to help me!

  2. Erin says:

    Hi Anna, Could you provide any suggestions for movies or point to a resource that you use to select them? My little people who would be watching are 6, 4, and 2. Thank you!
    And thank you for taking the time to write here. Your practical posts on music and sleep training were so liberating and encouraging!

    • Anna says:

      Erin, we watch a pretty wide selection. My older son likes the A-Team, which are generally clean as long as you don’t watch the later seasons. My girls are into Disney, and with a few exceptions, we are fine with that. We also watch some reality TV together with our kids, things like MythBusters and Cake Boss. I try to watch new movies with the kids the first time so that I know what’s in them and can talk about problems with them. There have even been a few times when we started a movie and turned it off half-way through, so they’re aware that some movies are not worth watching. My kids are pretty good about discussing problems in the movies. At 6 and 4, yours would be able to understand the basics of this, things like, “In Frozen, Anna says she’s going to ‘let it go, not hold back any more,’–Is this a good way for Christians to act?” Asking questions really gets the kids thinking, and gives us the opportunity to think through it critically. Obviously, we don’t watch anything with adult themes, sexual content, or gory graphic violence. Sorry–I feel like my answer’s a little scattered, but hopefully that helps some!

  3. Julie S says:

    A dose of reality 🙂 Thanks for not being apologetic about what works for your family!

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