Getting Dinner on the Table While Raising Kids
This post is sponsored by Happy Family at Target but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.
It’s 4pm and I’m starting to think about dinner. It’s been a busy day – the boys and I went to the park and then grocery shopping. Naps were cut short because friends were coming over to play. Tons of fun but now I have a few cranky pants on my hands and getting dinner on the table is the last thing I want to do. I just want someone to come up to me and say dinner is ready… Even though I know that someone is going to have to be me.
Do you mamas know what I’m saying? Do your kids seem to flip a switch when it’s time to start getting dinner ready? Wait it’s only my kids??? Ok, I guess you can stop reading now… Or, if you’re in the same boat, here are a few tips that are tried and true!
How to Go from Crazy to “Dinner is Ready”
I don’t know where I’d be without my meal plan. I’m serious about that! Every week or two I sit down with my food Pinterest board and decide what meals I’m going to put together. I’m all about the simple meals that aren’t super labor intensive and that don’t take forever to prepare. I shop for all the ingredients I’m going to need, put the meals in order of what produce will go bad first, and know just what’s on the docket for that day’s meal. There are no unexpected missing ingredients or surprisingly long cook times. #SanitySaving
Give Extra Time
Even though I supposedly know exactly how long a meal is going to take to prepare, I still give myself as much extra time as I can. Inevitably the recipe author will think it takes like 2 minutes to shred 6 potatoes by hand and I’ll realize quite quickly that it does not. If the recipe author was correct and the meal really does get done in the time she said, that’s great! I keep it warm in the oven at 150 degrees and dinner’s all ready to go when we want it!
Have “Dinner Prep Toys”
Caleb is the most bored when I’m cooking dinner. He can play on his own for hours, but the moment I start chopping, dicing, and slicing he realizes all his toys are lame and there’s no way he can do anything if mama isn’t right next to him. To combat this, we have some toys and activities that are only for dinner prep time. He can color, paint, play with playdough, pull out an activity box… The list goes on… But when dinner prep time is over, those activities go away again until the next day. Dinner prep time is now something he looks forward to!
Let the Kiddos Help
If dinner prep toys don’t do the job, let the kiddos help out! I know, it takes SO MUCH LONGER if kids are helping but that is even more reason to allow for extra time while preparing dinner. Figure out age appropriate jobs for your littles to do, even if it’s just stirring a bowl of flower and salt that has no purpose. They think it has a purpose and it will keep them busy!
Give them a Snack
I know it’s a little counter intuitive to give a snack while prepping dinner but sometimes it’s what you have to do! Little bodies can’t always wait until proper meal time to eat and making them wait while hungry just ruins all our lives. Always make sure the snack is healthy and nutritious so, even if it ruins their dinner, they’re still getting the nutrition they need. We love snacks like nuts, vegetables, and yogurt during times like this. Josiah gets whole milk yogurt when he can’t wait until dinner because it contains nutrients such as calcium, protein, live and active cultures and vitamins. Such good stuff to be filling him up with while he’s waiting for dinner.
Josiah’s been loving Happy Family yogurt ever since I found out it was sold at Target! Honestly, it stressed me out SO MUCH to introduce dairy to Josiah after all we’ve gone through with Caleb. Nate and I were putting it off until we realized that pediatricians actually recommend that babies start eating yogurt at around six months – the same time they start eating other solids. When choosing which yogurt to introduce, I fell in love with Happy Family! I love that Happy Family desires to introduce delicious and organic ingredients and beneficial nutrients that nourish the body. They aim to help introduce children to new textures and flavors and I’m all for that! They have a baby AND toddler line of yogurt and Josiah will definitely be getting the older yogurt when he’s ready for it! Their whole milk yogurt has vitamin D, no added sweeteners, and is mindfully made with probiotics. Add that to the fact that they’re non-gmo and USDA organic and this mama is a happy camper.
What do you do to keep your kids happy until you can say “dinner is ready”?