Hmmm…I am getting pretty hungry. Better go start on dinner.
Kids are playing with some blocks. They seem happy. Yeah, I should be able to cook dinner without any problems.
I start pulling out ingredients. The kids are still content. Maybe this will go ok.
Here they come.
As I start chopping vegetables, the baby is trying to climb up my leg. The toddler is getting chocolate chips out of the pantry. I move the baby out of the way so I don’t step on her as I am cooking and remove the bag of chocolate chips from my toddler’s hands.
The rest of dinner prep involves two screaming children who are desperately trying to scale my body. I keep removing them so they won’t get burned or cut and they then stomp and kick their feet while screaming, “Momma!” “HOLD ME” “I so hungry, I need food! Chocolate Chips, Mom. I so hungry. My tummy hurts.”
It just keeps repeating.
Over and over.
20 minutes suddenly feels like hours. 20 minutes ago, they were playing happily. They hadn’t even looked at me for a solid 30 minutes.
But, without fail, every time I start to cook dinner epic meltdowns ensue. The kids scream for 20 minutes watching my patience and sanity disappear. After 10 minutes of this I lose it and angry mom comes out.
“Get off of me. Please go play. Look here are your blocks. They are so fun.” (Insert eye twitch) I am seriously contemplating if I want to have anymore kids and if I should just give up and on the delicious dinner I am trying to make and just throw a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at them.
Please tell me that I am not the only one with dinner time meltdowns.
The once happy scene gets destroyed as soon as ingredients start coming out of the fridge. By the time dinner is done, I have 2 screaming children and I am barely holding it together.
But no more.
I am finding a way to stop the cooking chaos.
After a particularly rough day, I plopped down on the couch after the kids had gone to bed. I hated the way I had behaved that day. I had exploded at the kids. It wasn’t their fault. I had waited too long before starting dinner and they got hangry.
Things had to change. I despised how I behaved to my children. I had to think of some way to fix this problem.
I want my home to be a happy place where my family wants to be. I want them to feel loved and valued. Instead, it was chaos.
As I sat eating my giant bowl of chocolate ice cream I thought of how to fix the problem. Here’s what I came up with.
Spencer LOVES these. Brynlee not so much, yet. For now she just likes to eat the cards. I, personally, like to make matching games for my kids. It is simple and I can customize it for their current interests. To make them I just print some images from Google and cut them out. I also glue the pictures onto colored paper and then laminate it. That way, it takes longer for the baby to destroy them. Spencer is currently into dinosaurs and is curious about letters. So I printed out some dinosaurs and then wrote the letters of his name onto the dinosaurs. As I am cooking, I can look over and help him identify letters that he doesn’t know. I also made a set with shapes on it for variety.
LET THEM HELP
Some days the kids just want to be with me. They don’t want me to leave their side. On those type of days I let them help me cook dinner. Spencer likes to cut vegetables. His work is not something that would make chefs happy but it sure does make both of us happy. Brynlee likes to stir. What they can do varies with each meal but I am always able to find something for them to do.
GIVE THEM SOME VEGGIES TO SNACK ON
When I am hangry I am not pleasant to be around and neither are my kids. We become irrational and upset over the smallest things. However, I have found that my kids LOVE to eat whatever I am trying to cook. Once it is cooked, they aren’t always interested in it. For example peppers. They love to snack on red peppers while I am chopping them but as soon as they are cooked and we are sitting down to eat dinner, suddenly they want nothing to do with them. While I am cutting them up I can’t keep my kids away from them but for dinner? Disgusting. By allowing them to snack on some veggies as I cook, they get their veggies in and we all have a pleasant cooking time.
Spencer loves to sit down and paint with watercolors. But he likes it if I am by him when he does it. Hence I now let him paint while I am cooking. He sits down at the counter while I make dinner. I have a stack of assorted paper and coloring books. He chooses what paper he wants and then goes to town painting it.
DRAWER OF COOKING SUPPLIES
Brynlee is still too young to paint on her own. So instead, I pull out some utensils and pots for her to play with. My kitchen is too small for this, but ideally I would have a drawer full of bowls, utensils, and pots that my kids could have free reign over. For now, pulling them out when the kids need them seems to work just fine.
DANCE IT OUT
Turning on some music and jamming out has always helped me to turn my mood around. The kids like it too because they are dancing machines. On days where we are feeling particularly exhausted, relaxing music helps to distract us all from our hunger.
In the End
Meal prep at our house is still chaotic sometimes. But ever since I started implementing these strategies things have gotten so much better. We still have days where nothing seems to work and the kids are just having a bad day.
And that’s ok.
On those days I tell them I love them and am sorry they are upset then I dance it out.
With a little thought and preparation on your part you can avoid the dinner time crazies and bring peace back to your home.
Choose one or two of these strategies to implement this week. Make a plan now and do any prep for it so you can prevent meltdowns before they happen.