Before any of my children began school, I used to know it was 4 p.m. without even needing to look at a clock. Naps were over, children were whining for food and fighting with each other, and I was trying to make my way to the kitchen to begin dinner preparation. When my oldest daughter started Preschool, not much changed during “the witching hour”, as I’ve heard it frequently and ruefully called.
During the cold months, I would occasionally give hot chocolate with an afternoon snack to get the children through to dinner. However, I am not crazy about beginning a lifelong habit of daily hot chocolate. They consume enough sugar throughout the day. When Kindergarten began, she would get off the bus right at 3:45. This was just in time for the most challenging part of the day.
One day in November, when there was a perfect chill in the air and I was in no mood for the typical behaviors of the hour, I suggested on our walk home from the bus stop a hot cup of tea. I told them I had a new flavor that I thought they would really like. We went home and put the teakettle on to boil. Meanwhile, all 3 of my children sidled up to their stools at the counter where they usually sit for breakfast and lunch. While waiting for the whistle and for meat to defrost, Campbell told us how school had been, and Clark and Claire let her know what fun things we had done during the day. While the tea steeped and I peeled carrots and potatoes, we were chatting and laughing together. Finally, our Chai was ready. After a little sugar and a little milk, we were sipping our teas together and feeling relaxed and settled. The tea (and the occasional tea cookie) helps tide the children over until time for dinner.
We have continued our tradition of afternoon tea everyday. My little Claire wakes up from nap asking if it is time for tea. Campbell steps off the bus with the question, “Can we have tea?” Clark has so become accustomed to the idea of teatime that he goes straight to his stool as we enter the door. Even on the weekend and in summer, the children are sure to remind me of teatime. It has become a part of our day and a part of our lives.
Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find hundreds of lists, checklists, and planning pages to put your world in order.
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