It’s 5pm and everything is melting down – your baby has his cranky pants on and you are tired, dizzy and hungry, but you don’t even have a spare hand to make a sandwich, let alone prepare dinner. You feel anxious and stressed because you know it’s all downhill from here. If it’s any consolation (although probably not!), this scenario is so common for mums with babies and toddlers that the experts (mothers themselves) have created a label for it – arsenic hour!
Take heart, you can beat these late afternoon or early evening blues with a few simple strategies:
Feed the angry beast: don’t under-estimate the role of low blood sugar in contributing to helpless, hopeless feelings of overwhelm or swinging moods. Eat a late afternoon protein snack such as a boiled egg, an avocado or some tuna on crackers or , if you only have one hand spare, grab one of Pinky’s Boobie Bikkies to boost your flagging energy and maintain your calm.
Stop the stimulants: a hit of caffeine or chocolate might feel like an instant boost but they can create a vicious cycle – as they pass through your milk, they can ‘stimulate’ your baby too: he becomes more unsettled and wakeful and you become even more frustrated and anxious.
Pre-empt the wails: Try giving your baby an afternoon massage – it will be a calming time for you both as you and your baby release calming hormones. Feed your baby after his massage and he will most likely have a little nap which will give you time to gather your wits and get dinner happening.
Sling it: studies show that carrying your baby in a sling during the day (you don’t have to carry him all day unless you want to), can reduce evening crying by 50%. And if he does need to be close to you at arsenic hour, at least you will have two free hands if he’s in a sling or baby carrier.
Make a slow cooker your new best friend: Prepare dinner in the morning, let it simmer all day in your slow cooker (you can even cook a roast in it) and voila! Dinner is ready and you haven’t been torn between slaving over a stove and settling your baby. Cook extra and freeze or save a plateful for your lunch tomorrow (this will save fluctuating blood sugar levels later in the day too).