Fixing Dinner at Lunch

It’s 3:45 p.m. I just got home from picking up the boys from school. There are beanies, gloves, coats, backpacks, homework papers, completed assignments and book order pamphlets strewn throughout my living room. We have reading, typing, math, flash cards and spelling words to work on. My newborn needs nursing and my two-year-old wants to build blocks. Who has time to put together and cook dinner before 6 p.m.? Not me.

The block of time from when my oldest two sons get home from school until dinner has got to be one of the most stressful chunks of my day. The house is a mess, I am a mess and every child seems to need me all at once.

Some days I can go for an hour-long stretch in the afternoon without helping any of them (when the oldest two are in school and the youngest two are napping.) But for some reason when everyone is together, everyone needs mom. And who wants to cook something with four crazy kids hanging off of them?

A couple weeks ago I had a breakthrough. A light bulb went off after I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

It was a Monday (those are always so fun anyway) and I had been doing laundry all day. After school I tried to get dinner in the oven but no one would leave me alone. The oldest two wouldn’t sit down at the table to do their homework. The 2-year-old was flopping around on the ground throwing a fit and my newborn was screaming in her bouncing chair.

I shouldn’t have done it, but I started to put together an apple pie for dessert. I wanted to make a treat for us to eat after we had family night.

It was a true circus in our kitchen.

My poor husband. I was counting down the minutes until he came home to save me. I think I even called him to see where he was in his commute – twice.

That’s when I started making dinner at lunchtime. It sounds crazy I know, but it seriously works for my family and me.

After I get done eating lunch, my two-year-old and I put together dinner. (Luckily he loves to help me “cook.” And that’s usually the time of day that my baby sleeps.)

We brown chicken and roll it into enchiladas. We cook sausage and throw it into a breakfast casserole. Sometimes, if we are really ambitious, we put soup into the crock pot before lunch!

Most of the meals we normally eat as a family can be made ahead of time. So I’ve started getting as much ready for dinner as I can before the after-school scramble.

It takes a little more planning in order to get stuff ready earlier but it has made life around here much less stressful. I actually have time to flip through flash cards with my oldest son and read a few pages with my 6-year-old.

Now if only I could figure out a magical way to make doing the dishes less stressful!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jaclyn
    Nov 20, 2014 @ 09:01:03

    This is a grand idea and one I’ve also started doing more this year. I’m glad I’m not the only mother who thinks this time of day is the absolute craziest. You just never know what is going to come home with the kids at 3:30, it’s best to be prepared – that is if you want a healthy home cooked meal and something that more closely resembles peace and productivity. As far as peace during clean up, that is when you send the kids with the husband who then gets them ready for bed and you put headphones in to listen to your audio book (ah, so nice). I also employ the older kids to help with cleanup most nights (at least in sweeping the kitchen floor). Dishes are done just in time to give bedtime stories and hugs and kisses. 🙂

    Disclaimer: By “peace” I mean more like an attempt and hope for peace, because, let’s be honest, you just never know what’s going to come up. 😉


    • Natalie
      Nov 20, 2014 @ 15:10:25

      Great idea! Travis is really good about getting the boys to bed, I just need to take advantage of that time and do the dishes. I also need to have the boys help me sweep the kitchen floor. That’s brilliant! I hate to sweep. Maybe it would make them more careful about spilling crumbs too…maybe 😉


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