How to Prevent a Parental Disaster During Your Afternoon Witching Hour

Spring walk

We have all suffered through our children’s witching hour around dinner time (typically between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.)…the tantrums, the whining, the arguing. But have you ever stepped back to notice that parents have our own witching hour around 2 p.m.? If we don’t take some precautions, things could get pretty frightening at home.

Several studies point out how it may be harder for us to think clearly, make good decisions, and avoid making mistakes during the middle of the afternoon. This is due to our circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock that helps regulate hormones in our brain to cause us to feel either sleepy or energetic. That circadian slump time is widely referenced in the business world, but it also affects stay-at-home-parents trying to take care of their kids.

A new study in The Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology went one step further and discovered that our brain’s reward system also goes haywire around 2 p.m. Essentially, this system is responsible for helping us evaluate potential risks versus rewards to make an effective decision.

The study found that rewards we receive in the morning or evening tend to come as more of a surprise than rewards we get in the afternoon. That surprise factor causes certain parts of the brain to light up more. This means that we are better off skipping certain activities during our own witching hour.

Want to avoid overreacting and saying something to your kids you will regret later? Try these tips for making the best of your witching hour:

Eat a healthy snack

Like our kids, if we go too long…

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