This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Being a stay-at-home mom of small children is tough, especially when Dad works long hours! Here are some end-of-day time killers you’ll be glad to try.
I became a new mom at a time in my life when we only had one car.
It didn’t help that we also live in Arizona, where for at least six months out of the year it is sweltering hot outside. Often, getting out of the house on foot just isn’t a viable option.
And it didn’t help that my husband worked full-time at a job that regularly required over 12 hour days!
Don’t get me wrong: I loved being able to be home with my baby, but some days taking care of a little person who didn’t do much more than eat and poop was, counterintuitively, really hard. And then to do that for twelve plus hours?
You would think that when Little Bo got older, getting through the day got easier. In some respects, it did. But in others? Not so much. At least as a baby she spent large portions of the day asleep, and I could watch TV with her nursing in my arms. As she got older, she required more and more entertaining to avoid fussy meltdowns.
There were days that I felt like the name of the game was running out the clock until Dad got home. And since Daddy still has to work 15 hour days sometimes, I got pretty good at it!
Here are some things I do regularly to speed up those last few hours of the day:
WE HAVE AN ELABORATE EVENING/BED-TIME ROUTINE
Let’s start with the most obvious: The Bedtime Routine.
My daughters love the bath. It used to be something I dreaded, because it could be such an involved process–especially when you have to chase naked kiddos down afterwards to get them lotioned up and dressed, teeth brushed, tucked in, etc.
But then I realized: When Daddy isn’t going to be home for a while still, this is such a great time suck! And it’s so much more than that too: I have made fond memories of our bedtime routine and we all very much enjoy it. So milk that evening routine, mama! It’s so very worth it, and for so very many reasons.
WE GO TO THE PARK
Going to the park at the end of the day, right before the sun goes down, not only means it is a little bit cooler (remember–it’s hot here!), but it means that family and friends are likely home or on their way home from work and can chat with me on the phone while the kids play. Often there are other moms at the park to chat with, too. Not only does the time fly, but my girls get their energy out–just enough to make them really tired before bed.
WE GO ON WALKS
Around the grocery store, around Target, around the craft store, around our neighborhood. When it is cool enough to walk to stores, we walk, and when we got a second car, we drove to places we couldn’t walk. It helped with my postpartum weight loss, and the girls of course still enjoy it. This is especially fun to do around the holidays: Little Bo loves looking at “the Halloween” at Target when the decorations come out, and we love looking at Christmas lights.
I COOK & MEAL PLAN
I talk about meal planning a lot, I know, but when you can get in the habit of doing it, it’s so helpful! Plus, it is also something to keep me busy and my family healthy. Cooking dinner and involving the kids when you can (or wearing the baby on your back when you can’t) is a great way to pass the time at the end of the day. It’s also part of my secret to losing a combined 110+ lb of baby weight after both pregnancies, so that’s a plus!
I FOLLOW A CLEANING ROUTINE
I don’t like cleaning. But I LOVE having cleaned. Establishing a cleaning routine helped give me a regular thing to do at the end of the day that not only helps the clock tick by but also leaves me feeling better about my space. It helps to have an ergonomic carrier that you can strap baby into while you work. While it’s probably best to get your cleaning out of the way at the beginning of the day, sometimes leaving it for the late afternoon or early evening helps effectively kill some otherwise dull time. And if you’re lucky, you can get it done while the kids nap.
WE PLAY BOARD GAMES
Seek-a-boo was Little Bo’s first board game, and she loved it. We have since gotten several more Peaceable Kingdom games, and playing them is a super fun, educational way to pass the time with a preschooler.
WE DO THINGS TOGETHER THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE ANYWAY
We pick up the toys in the living room together. We “help” make dinner (i.e. stir things that cant be spilled easily, pour pre-measured measuring cups, watch mommy, etc.). We play in the water while I do the dishes. We switch the laundry. Involving the girls in these regular things not only keeps us all entertained, it also models good habits!
WE DO “QUIET TIME” (I.E. I SECRETLY MOVED UP BEDTIME)
When LoLo, baby #2, came along, Little Bo still needed me to lie down next to her to help her fall asleep. But with a second baby in my arms, I was tired and needed the peace that came with my 2.5 year old napping during the day. So I started “quiet time,” something she looked forward to with delight that helped her fall asleep on her own.
Eventually “quiet time” became something we did before bed, too. And since Little Bo had just dropped her last nap, she was ready for “quiet time” by 6:45pm!
Which means by around 7, I get “me” time! Well, almost. I still have LoLo with me, but she’s little enough that it feels like “me” time, and Lo usually falls asleep nursing pretty quickly anyway. And it gives me a chance to work on blog posts like this one!
Do you find yourself feeling like time stands still at the end of the day? What do you do to pass the time with your kiddos?