After the two weeks I had off for holiday break, I forgot how little time we actually have after work until Mac goes to bed. We get home, rush dinner onto the table, attempt to have some family time and then scoot off to bed. So how do you make those precious few hours together less stressful? Make sure you also listen to our podcast about surviving dinner time.
Well I have come up with a few ways we have found really make our weeknights less stressful. (And P.S. do not make food a fight!)
I’m going to let you in on a little secret in my family: Andrew does most of the cooking. It isn’t that I can’t cook. Actually, I enjoy cooking. But after Mac was born, Andrew started to cook to lighten my workload and he discovered he liked it. So now, he takes over the kitchen and I am his sous chef.
On days he is making a dinner that is a bit more involved, he will delegate some tasks to me: chopping vegetables, gathering ingredients, making a side dish. More hands make light work.
With some patience and training, kids make great helpers in the kitchen, even toddlers. Letting your children help means that you get some help and learn life skills while also spending quality time with them. Win-win. But what sorts of things can they do? Well, toddlers can
Older children can
We absolutely love our Little Partners Learning Tower. It is definitely worth the cost! Mac stands in it multiple times a day to help us or just watch us cook in the kitchen. We’ve also discovered she likes to make it into a “fort” by putting a blanket on top. When we got the learning tower, I was afraid we would spend a bunch of money on it and it would end up collecting dust. That is definitely not the case! Mac is our little kitchen helper because she can stand in the learning tower and reach the counter.
I’m sure I probably heard a few snorts out there. As if life isn’t busy enough, this crazy lady wants us to try to think ahead to all of the dinners I am making this week? Yes, yes I do. The biggest secret to my success is sitting down each Sunday and planning out the week of meals.
So pick a day, preferably one you aren’t too busy. Maybe you are a stay at home mom and Mondays are that day. Maybe Sundays are super busy, but Saturdays are your lazy day. It doesn’t matter, just pick one.
That day, sit down and think about the week. Are there any days you will be gone or otherwise eating out? Are there days you are super busy and a crockpot meal is in order? Then write it all down. Flip through your cookbooks or scroll through Pinterest. Check the grocery ads to see what is on sale. Then make your list.
I’m going to be totally honest: this is the step we usually forget and then regret. But occasionally when we really have our stuff together, we also prep on Sundays. That means we
Then, each weeknight we simply have to pull out the proper containers and throw them in the pan. It cuts so much time off of cooking dinner.
If all else fails, we always have a back-up plan. Every once in a while, we swing by Trader Joes and pick up some freezer meals. So if everything is going to hell in a handbasket, we can make an easy dinner and focus on destressing instead. (Also, this might be helpful if you have a picky eating toddler.)
Make sure to also listen to our podcast about surviving and even enjoying family dinner.