The Witching Hour: Evening Routine with Kids

The Witching Hour is better known to those without children as early evening. To us parents it is the chaos leading up till bedtime. It can ruin an otherwise lovely day and strikes fear into those who have toddlers.

After ten years and three children I have come up with some ways to fight back. I have the unique challenge of large age gaps so getting through the Witching Hour has become harder over the years but I refuse to let it get me down! I have also included a sample evening routine at the end of the post.


Sleep begets sleep. Trust me when I say; trying to have an “easier bedtime” by skipping naps never works. A well rested child will get through the early evening and go to bed better than one strung out and exhausted. Get in what ever the recommended nap time is good for your childs age group.

For us, naps are hit or miss for the 3 year old. She is in that special place between toddler and preschooler. Some days she asks for a rest and some days she is non-stop until I wrangle her into bed at night.


You have heard this over and over again but routines help a lot. We don’t have a routine as much as particular rituals that occur throughout the evening. I found this easier and gives us more freedom. That way we can change things up without ruining all our hard work. As long as we hit our rituals at some point it prompts the desired effect.

Also, and this is of the utmost importance: do not start something you can’t finish. This means if you don’t plan on giving a bath every night for the rest of your baby’s childhood – don’t do it now. Besides, a bath every night isn’t good for the skin. Aim for every few days unless there is obvious dirt.

We keep our rituals super simple. My 3-year-old will do a kiss run to everyone in the house before bed and she can not go to bed without doing this. Brushing teeth, a cup of warm milk, and the same song are all included in the bedtime rituals. We can do these anywhere and in any time frame.

Essential Oil

I rely on aromatherapy throughout the day a lot. During the Witching Hour I will diffuse lavender or a citrus oil (or a combination of the two) depending on the situation. If things are particularly crazy, just the straight up lavender will help calm the tribe. Citrus is invigorating but it is also freshening. It gives the house a certain kind of glow.

To you essential oils might be hippie stuff BUT it isn’t necessarily about the oils themselves. When I switch my diffuser to lavender and turn on my evening music playlist it sends queues throughout the house. This is telling them we have moved into a certain part of the night. By doing this I see a  lot less chaos. So even if you question the effectiveness of the oils, they will give queues to relax and quiet down.

Exercise and Fresh Air

I know, I know this is age old advice but I don’t fix what isn’t broken. Exercise and outside play throughout the day will tire out wild kids. As long as they have time to rest (nap for example) and are not hangry – this rest will help give you an easier bedtime.

I even employ outside time during dinner prep. They are not under my feet, they get fresh air, they get dirty and hungry before dinner. It is a win, win!!

Early Dinner

When all else fails, try moving your dinner time up. We used to eat at 6:30….then 6:00….now we have been known to eat at 5:00! It is so much easier and builds in a lot more relaxed family time. We eat and clean up as a family. It is all over before 6 giving us lots of time to hang out, go for a walk, have bath time or anything else we want to do!

I hope your battle with the Witching Hour is going well and if it isn’t I hope you have time for wine. Tell me how you get through the early evening with your wild ones!

Evening Example Routine

The witching hour evening routine with kids

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