Monday, June 6, 2011

A tale of two dinners

I've heard of lots of different families doing dinner lots of different ways. Some of the things we've tried.....

Option 1: The eat as soon as dad walks in plan.

Pro- We get to eat as a family, or try to keep everyone happy while sitting at the table.
Con- I need to time dinner pretty perfectly and have to do the majority of the work before dad gets home. We wouldn't eat until 6:15ish and my kids are starving and cranky by then. My meals sometimes suffer because of having to multi-task and to make them kid-friendly.

Option 2: Give the kids a late snack to hold them off until a later dinner with the whole family.

Pros- We get to have dinner as a family, kids are less cranky, I can start dinner when dad arrives to help watch kids
Cons- I have to make sure the snack is a healthy snack, which means it might as well be called dinner in my opinion. Isaac and I don't get alone time until later in the evening.

Option 3: The eat out plan

Pros- too many to type:)
Cons- expensive, less healthy, constricted to kid-friendly places

Option 4: Feed kids an early dinner, cook and eat when kids go to bed plan

Pros- much less work for mom during the day=more time to play with the kids, one parent mans the kids  (walk, bath, read, bedtime) while other parent cooks, or we team cook which fills my huge need for quality time, and we get to eat dinner as a couple at the quiet table, plus, it usually means a better menu
Cons- we have to eat a late-ish dinner, I need to have something easy and healthy for kids to eat around 5:30.

Obviously, I am so not an expert on this 'mom' or 'wife' thing, but this is what we have decided works at our house: Now that our kids go to bed at about the same time, option 4 is the sure winner for us. I have found ways to pretty much overcome the cons of this option. I usually eat a snack when the kids are eating to hold me over til a yummy dinner:) and I have thought of some pretty easy ways to feed the kids at 5:30.

For example....
Yesterday, with Annettes help, I made vegetable soup that will be great for lunches or for the kid's early dinner. It will even freeze well if we don't go through it all in the next couple of days. And have I mentioned that my kids LOVE vegetable soup. I just use ground beef, beef stock, tomato paste, and a bunch of canned veggies.  The only tough part is finding time to brown the beef. But that only takes a few minutes and I got that done while kids played.

They don't seem to mind eating the same thing a few times a week the way Isaac and I do:) Isaac would never consider vegetable soup a meal, which is another huge reason 'separate dinners' work for us. He wants a real meal, with meat and sides and such. So, when Isaac got home, he took kids on a walk while I made this new dish. Some moms would rather not cook, and sometimes that's me. But, after a day full of kid-playing, I'm usually happy to do something that does not involve someone crying at my legs. That was last night. If I am sick of being on my feet, and want to give the kids a bath, Isaac will cook.

I forgot to take a picture of it before we gobbled it down. Isaac loved this as much as I did, which is not always the case with 'healthier' dinners:)

Some moms would rather not cook, and sometimes that's me. But, after a day full of kid-playing, I'm usually happy to do something that does not involve someone crying at my legs. That was last night. However, if I am sick of being on my feet, I'll give the kids a long playful bath, and let Isaac cook.

And I got to eat the leftovers for lunch. That's another perk to this system. The adult leftovers make great adult or kid lunches, and are also easy to reheat for early kid dinners on the following night.

my half eaten leftovers

A lot of nights, Isaac will want to grill something like flank steak or salmon, while kids play outside on the patio with him. I am fortunate that he likes to cook. And that  Isaac will pretty much let me pick which nights I want to cook and which nights he gets to cook.

Call us crazy, but I love this set up. I know I am basically cooking two meals some nights. BUT, having something fun to look forward to every night.., adult conversation and a good healthy meal... it works for us.  And, it keeps us from eating with the kids and then going through the bedtime routine and then cleaning up and then being pooped and wanting to just watch TV and do computer stuff.  We actually talk during dinner.... and then have some media time. LOVE both parts:)

I realize this isn't a good plan for lots of  families for different reasons, but it works really well for us in this current parenting phase with Isaac's working hours. At least most nights of the week:)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

the osbornes said...

I can't wait to try this yummy meal!
I keep reading (on blogs and facebook, of course) about all these people doing "dinner swaps" with friends. I'm thinking maybe we need to consider this as an "option 5", since we cook/eat similar things....hmmmm, thinking how we can make this work......