Let’s get right to the point here, if the Mom is this article’s photo looks a lot like how you feel around dinnertime on a weeknight, please know that you are by no means alone! All too often Mothers (and Fathers too!) place way too much guilt on themselves for not being able to master this whole “perfect dinner experience” each night. Before you start wondering if the family next door is sat peacefully sipping wine while their toddlers blissfully eat their vegetables, do realize that just isn’t happening! Two working parents plus children under the age of 5 after a long day are all equally drained. This fantasy of coming home after a daycare or school pick up to create a delicious, home cooked meal is just not always feasible.
If you find that your little ones are having difficulty behaving at dinner, perhaps it’s because it’s just too late in the day for them to possibly keep it together any longer. After sitting in traffic, and having a long day at work; odds are Mom and Dad are also over it for the day as well. Is it possible to come home and enjoy dinner for busy families in 2018?
In short, yes, but it requires some preparation, and often a reality check.
- Not every night will run smoothly. This is a fact. If your child hasn’t slept well the night before, or maybe you truly don’t have all the ingredients in the pantry to create a full meal, just accept it for what it is. Order in dinner, or have soup, whatever it takes, but don’t beat yourself about not having some amazing dinner each night.
- Plan ahead as much as possible. Meal prep on Sundays if you can, and put together everything you’ll need to come home and throw dinner together. Make meals ahead and freeze them, or utilize that crockpot that’s been sitting around the kitchen. There’s nothing better than coming home from a busy day to a crockpot dinner already done that smells delicious!
- Know your kiddo’s limits. If you can easily see that your child needs to decompress more than anything, then forget the sit down dinner for tonight. Quickly get your child cleaned up, pajamas on, and feed them whatever is quick, and painless for you both. Smoothies are super fast to make, and you can get vegetables into your child without a huge fight. Cut up whatever fruit you have laying around, and serve it with a grilled cheese sandwich, literally whatever works on nights like this!
As advised on Slate.com, no one has mastered the weeknight dinner hustle with small children, so know that you’re just like every other family just trying to get through the workweek doing your best. If you can carve out time on the weekends to plan or meal prep for the coming week, then by all means do it as this will save you so much aggravation, (and even some toddler tears!) during the week. If you can afford it, you can also try one of those meal delivery services, where a company prepares your meals into daily containers, and all you have to do it heat it up. This can tend to be rather pricey for a family, but even if you only order dinner for one meal per week, that’s one less crazy late meal that you have to muster up!