Suicide Hour

by Veronica on January 23, 2010

in Life

Suicide hour: That hour as you’re busy cooking dinner, the children are hungry and tired and no one seems able to do anything on their own without help.

It normally involves frequent whining, a couple of tantrums and an urge to throw yourself off a bridge. Or time out everybody while you finish cooking. Or time out yourself and let everyone else fend for themselves.

Also known as Arsenic Hour, The Witching Hour and Please Everyone, Just Go Away and Let Me Cook Dinner Alone Hour.


Both children are at my feet, screaming at me. Amy is tugging on my top, asking for a glass of milk and Isaac is wailing at my feet, clutching my pant leg.

It’s dinnertime and I just had to hop into the lounge room to settle a dispute.

Amy, no, you play with this toy. That one is Isaac’s. Isaac, here you go.

Unfortunately, my presence has alerted him to the fact that he is hungry and tired. He clutches me, wailing, while I try to make it back to the kitchen. I can smell things starting to burn.

Isaac! I grump – Sit here! Right, now play with your toys.

Amy! Give him BACK his bottle. You’re a big girl, you don’t need a bottle.

But I neeeeda bottle, she wails.

No, you don’t.

I make it to the kitchen before the wailing begins again. My head is going to explode, I can feel it. Glancing at the clock I mentally count minutes until I can feed everyone and start putting them to bed.

Nathan makes his way to the lounge room, ostensibly to give me a hand. Neither of the children want Daddy though, and they remain at the kitchen gate, wailing for me. My stress levels rise as I run the stick blender through the pasta sauce and drain pasta. I only just caught it in time, gluten free pasta won’t stand for overcooking. I’m pretty sure no one wanted to eat pasta mush with their tomato sauce.

I start dishing up as the wails get louder. I’m getting frustrated now, how hard is it to entertain the baby for 5 minutes while I dish up dinner? Amy screams about an imagined slight and I have to remind myself to breathe deep and ignore it for now.

I mentally take myself to my happy place, only somehow, my happy place has been infiltrated by tiny short screaming people and it’s looking less like a happy place and more like hell with every passing moment.

The house has been trashed in just one short hour. Toys are everywhere and I’m fairly sure I just fractured something as I dodged a thrown baby bottle and stubbed my toe on the cupboard.

I manage to keep the swearing to an under my breath mutter and slowly, I get the pasta dished up and sauce allocated.

The baby sits on the floor, pasta and cheese in a bowl in front of him. He spreads it out in a giant circle around him before starting to eat. I ignore it, wishing, yet again that he would submit to the highchair.

Amy sits at the table for 2 mouthfuls before needing a glass of water/the potty/to bother her brother. Still trying to grate cheese over my own dinner, I get her fixed and heading back to the table.

It’s a useless effort of course, because as soon as I sit down, my dinner becomes The Most Interesting and Tasty and both children end up sitting at my feet, begging for mouthfuls of now gone cold pasta.

Sighing, I give up on getting to eat unbothered and share my dinner, wishing I could get away with hiding in the bathroom to eat.

Slowly we finish my dinner and I start to get the mess Isaac made cleaned up. My favourite method of cleaning just involves letting the cats inside, but as Isaac still looks hungry, I pick up the pasta from the tablecloth he was sitting on and pop it back into his bowl. He, of course, spreads it back out in a circle again.

I give up.

As I head to the kitchen to dump the plates and open the door for the cats, Isaac notices Daddy. He’s eating dinner relatively unphased  by the circus surrounding him. Isaac hauls himself to standing and stays there, holding onto Nathan’s legs with his mouth open like a baby bird. Amy notices and climbs up, to sit next to her father as well.

Reluctantly, he shares out his dinner as well, even as his eyes plead with me to rescue him. I look at him, trying to keep a straight face, but I can’t.

Please? He says.

Sorry honey, I’ve uh, got to go outside and uh, do something.

Smiling now, I disappear outside for 5 minutes to get my head back together before the bedtime circus begins.

God knows I need to after all that.

Fiona January 23, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Glad you got your breathing space, hun.

river January 23, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Ha ha, you didn’t rescue Nathan, serves him right. Sorry to sound harsh, but geez, all he had to do was pick up both kids and walk around outside for 5-10 minutes while you got dinner served. Or he could have offered to take over in the kitchen while you played “let’s throw the toys into the toybox” with the kids. (or walked them outside for 5-10 minutes while he served…..
Funny how some kids hate high chairs. My boy loved his and would climb into it by himself, eat his food, then climb out again. My youngest two always preferred sitting at the kidsize table.

twitchyfingers January 23, 2010 at 1:49 pm

You could have been describing any night in our home.. apart from the fact that we call it ‘arsenic hour’!

Kristin January 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Oh, I remember suicide hour well. It’s slightly better now. They sometimes help me cook, will sit in their seats a bit longer before needing somethings (for instance, to investigate a sibling’s plate), generally keep their food in their bowls and mostly make it through a meal without fighting with each other. They still always want a glass of water as soon as I sit down, however. Never fails.

Sharon January 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Serves him right 😉

Veronica January 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm

River – He was trying, quite hard, but Isaac didn’t want a bar of it, he wanted boobs. He held him for a bit, but Isaac just screamed and wiggled to get down. Amy picked up on Isaac’s lead and it was a nightmare.

Robin January 23, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Sounds just like my last couple of days and I only have one child. OMG. The things I have to look forward to. Thanks for the warning.

Brenda January 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I suppose duct taping them to the wall would be considered child abuse yes?! I am joking of course. Hehe.

Kristy January 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

This is why I love your blog, you just described an evening in MY house too! Always good to know you’re not alone. If I could just clone myself it would be so much easier!

Gina January 23, 2010 at 6:08 pm

We call it homicide hour in our house…

frogponsdrock January 23, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Some things never change.

Diane January 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm

You are not alone! Mealtimes run like that in our house too! I’m relieved to know it’s not just me! Cooking used to be so much more enjoyable when I didn’t have to juggle the kids at the same time. No wonder I’m lacking inspiration in the kitchen lately ?

Marylin January 24, 2010 at 12:52 am

Ah yes… I hate the witching hour. Usually lasts about 2 for me – from 4.30ish till they go to bed at like half 6/7pm. Drives me BATTY!

At least it’s not just you, or me, it’s everyone! lol 🙂 xx

maiden53 January 24, 2010 at 2:14 am

Hang in there V…. I remember well those days! They just grow up too fast some days and others…. don’t go by FAST enough! Soon, very soon, you will be reading this post and remembering when…

Pop and Ice January 24, 2010 at 4:52 am

I know you’re probably not looking for advice, but I’m going to offer anyway and hope you’re not offended:

1. Until your children are able to sit at the table and eat dinner with you in a reasonable manner (ages 4-5 maybe?), feed them separately, usually earlier than you and Nathan would eat. That way you can focus your attention on them fully instead of your dinner getting cold or being an unpleasant experience.

2. To forestall the children bothering you while you and Nathan eat, try having Isaac in his high-chair snacking on something he really, really likes. It might help solve the high-chair problem. Or give him something to do in the high-chair that might entertain him. If you must, perhaps put him in his crib or other restraint device and become temporarily deaf to the crying. Close the door. They will learn.

3. Regarding Amy, let her know this is your time to eat uninterrupted. It will take some practice, but unless truly urgent, try ignoring her requests for attention.

So there’s all my unsolicited advice and feel free to comment at my blog on how to raise my teenagers. 🙂

Hyphen Mama January 24, 2010 at 11:47 am

OMG, me too! I know we aren’t supposed to use television to babysit our children, but I CANNOT get through that time of day without a movie for the kids. What really annoys me is ALL THAT BOTHER and then they don’t eat. Gah.

Ali January 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm

My iphone ate my very witty and fabulous response. Basically it was along the lines of children suck and there’s not a lot you can do about children who refuse high chairs and want Mummy. Also, if I tried to plan two separate meals for our household I would never get to eat. At least it passes at some stage, truly.

badness jones January 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Yep, that’s dinner hour with littles. It does seem, however, now that my youngest is about the age of your oldest, to be getting a bit better. Bad will still sometimes come into the kitchen when he smells dinner, and if it isn’t ready he hammers on the oven door with his fists and screams, “BAD OVEN! BAD OVEN!”, which would be funny, were it not for the dangerous factor.


Jenni January 25, 2010 at 3:19 am

Uhg, this does not make me look forward to 6PM round these parts. Glad you got a minute.

Laura January 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

It is this hour that makes me now loathe cooking of any kind! I HATE the choas and noise and drama of these 60 minutes (often its even less).

If it wasnt for the financial implications (and health ones) I would buy take out every night – just to avoid a bit of this!

Barbara January 27, 2010 at 7:39 am

It was known as the Gangrene Hour (when the rot sets in) at our house. I still shudder just thinking about it. I did survive, the children are now age 34 and 37.

WarsawMommy January 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Gah. I know all about this time, as I also have a three-year-old, and my youngest just turned 10 months. Hmmmm, though. I have no name for ‘that hour’. I like ‘Arsenic Hour’, Twitchyfingers, and may well use that. Is the copyright your own?

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