Surviving the Arsenic Hours: Part 1 Shut Up and Dance

Monday, February 26, 2018

As I stood, huddled in the dark corner of my dining room, eating a cinnamon roll and pretending not to hear my offspring fighting in the kitchen, I realized that perhaps I was surviving, not thriving, this evening.  And the evening before that, and the evening before that. 4:30 p.m. hits in our house and, almost like clockwork, my children turn into demons.  When you add in homework, meal prep, dinner, clean up, bathing, pajamas- an absolute delight.

We both have husbands who work very, very long hours and travel extensively.  Our arsenic hours, from the beginning to bitter end, are almost always exclusively our responsibility.  So we've had to get a little creative, finding ways to fill the time without developing ever more elaborate hiding spots.  I still have days where I need to hide from my children, for my own survival and theirs, but there are some pretty beautiful moments of thriving thrown in there.  And I'll take it.

This is the first in a series of five posts, where we'll share some of our favorite ways to make it through Satan's Revenge/the witching hours/the arsenic hours.  We would also love to hear what works for you, because if we've learned anything so far, it's that thriving as parents requires help from a tribe.

Cranking up the music and setting the stage for an impromptu dance party is probably the quickest and easiest way to lighten the mood and bring a little fun into the evening slog.

First off, I think the disco ball is non-negotiable.  My kids, and every kid that we've had over during a dance party, love it.  It takes the activity from listening to music in the background to serious business.   It's inexpensive, small, portable, and remote controlled. We've gotten hours of use from ours and I don't see that changing any time soon.

Second, accessorize.  My daughter loves to wear things that sparkle and twirl, and especially enjoys being in character during Disney songs.  My son's dancing is often a lot like running in a giant circle around our main level (burning energy=huge win) and for some reason, wearing his Indiana Jones get up or golden ninja costume seem to help that along.  But our all-time favorite is a giant crying baby-face mask.  It is hilarious. I bought it as soon as I saw it because it's one of those things you just need to own- even if you're not quite sure what you're going to do with it.  Everyone looks ridiculous, with their tiny bodies dancing under this huge, whiny face and it never fails to up the ridiculous factor.

Third, let your kids add a personal touch.  Sometimes they want the songs to be along a specific theme, sometimes all the curtains need to be closed, sometimes they want to teach you a few moves.  The other night my son brought up our box of instruments and laid them out in very specific groupings so that we could play along while dancing to the music.  They're really small things, but giving them a chance to make a decision and exert some control and independence goes a very long way.  Especially in the evening hours.

Fourth, have a playlist ready. Have a list of songs that your kids love, that are upbeat or silly or dramatic and fun to dance to.  I'm the first to admit I have terrible taste in music but, lack of refinement aside, here are some my kids really enjoy:


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