Why 5 O'clock is Called the Arsenic Hour

Leave Work, Wrangle Tired Hungry Kids, Watch Chaos Unfold

About six months ago, I was drowning in the pit of despair that my house turns into at 5pm when someone told me that it was referred to as the Arsenic Hour.

My eloquent reply was something along the lines of "huh?" but sure enough, after very little Googling, I came across multiple references to the term. The Arsenic Hour is a brilliantly accurate description of that time when the end of the working day collides brutally with hunger, tiredness... and of course, hungry and tired children.

To quote my friend, the time between 5pm and 7pm can be so tough that you "either want to administer some arsenic or take some." And seriously, I get it. Since then, Arsenic Hour has become an institution in our household. No one calls then, I put away the computer, and I try to do the bare minimums - only what absolutely has to be done. Namely, feeding and bedding the kids.

To an innocent bystander, that doesn't sound like much, but when you break it down into the following, it starts to look like the THE Iron-Man event of multi-tasking.

  • Stop working
  • Pick up screaming 1 year-old from daycare
  • Pick up 3 year-old from preschool- which involves getting screaming 1 year-old out of car
  • Drive home
  • Crank up music to drown out crying and food-begging from back seat
  • Get kids into house
  • Quick assessment of which kid needs food more urgently
  • Baby fills diaper-room
  • Room stinks thus making a new priority
  • Plonk preschooler in front of TV
  • Change baby, place her in high chair...

... and this is where my evening comes to a screaming halt. What the hell am I going to make for dinner?

It's not that I don't like cooking. I love to cook; I love food. It's just that the act of having to think of what to make at that time of day that is healthy, tasty and that the kids will eat is tantamount to trampolining into the air and back-flipping through a fiery hoop. It's my own personal dead-end, writer's block, road-block.

The baby is now staring at me from her high-chair. The pre-schooler is standing in the kitchen doorway rubbing his tummy "Mummy - I'm hungry." I break out the crackers, handing them out like rations to quell the troops while I panic my way into delivering something of substance to the table.

And then, my husband comes home. "What's for dinner?" he asks innocently.

I start looking for the arsenic.

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Eleanor Nickerson is a bio Writer, consultant, blogger and mother of two small children who strives against reality to have it all. By night she swigs wine from the bottle while she manages a mummy blog that reviews BC playgrounds, a non-mummy blog for stories and rants, and a writing resource.

By day she tries (fails) to eat sensibly and is a freelance Strategy and Human Resources Consultant. On the side, yes there is a "side" to all that, she paints, writes fiction, watches British TV shows and plays the harp.
Well actually she doesn't play the harp but it sounded good didn't it?