Dinner, Interrupted

Sunday, November 06, 2011

So I find I am struggling in one area. Well, it is an adjustment for both Mr. A and I, but I feel responsible, even if that's not really true.

Dinnertime used to be part of our day we looked forward to- it was when we sat together and read the paper and talked about our days and other random things. I never used to do much prep work prior to getting home from walking the dogs (630ish), but somehow I still managed to cook a meal from scratch by 7 or 730 at the latest on most days.

Now, after we get home from walking the pups, it seems like there is a black hole for the escape-ment (is that a word?) of all time and order. Maryanne inevitably needs feeding or just to be held, which we are so thankful that she is here and needing our attention; it is a huge change from dinnertime routine we've been used to for the last 9 years. I can't for the life of me get my butt in gear to cook like I used to (yet), and as ungrateful as it sounds, the meals that have been brought to us have been kind of disappointing, as far as flavor and quality go.

I think I am doing pretty good as a mom, but I can't shake the guilt that I'm failing as a wife.

Mr. A tries hard to be patient and understanding, but it's just who he is- let his blood sugar drop below a certain level, and even if you try your hardest to gussy-up the weird looking roasted chicken someone brought you and make it into chicken salad and put it on a sad looking kaiser roll (because even though you have bread, you a worried that the mouse went in the toaster, so you are on a toaster boycott), he is not going to be able to veil his disgust.

Which will make you feel like crap because you couldn't come up with a better dinner.

I am not posting this to complain about his reaction to dinnertime lately (so please don't everyone leave comments that he's a jerk or something- he is an amazing husband and dad to our little girl- no one is perfect!), I am posting it to ask for help and advice on how other people make dinnertime calm and peaceful and successful as far as the atmosphere, and as far as quickly getting decent meals on the table for their family.

16 comments:

tanyaslifejourney said...

I don't have any children (yet) but I do have a daycare in my home. Between 4:00 and 6:00 each day, my front door is a revolving door between children coming in from school and parents picking up. Most days, I make dinner during naptime and have it ready to go in the oven (usually between 4:30 and 5:00 depending on how long it needs to bakd) or I make a crockpot meal in the morning and let it cook all day. This way, I can eat around 5:30 and still be on with my evening plans by the time the last child is picked up by 6:00.

The days that this doesn't happen are sandwich, quick meals, and sometimes "fend for yourself" days. I feel horrible on those days, like I'm not living up to my end of the deal...but it is life and it is bound to happen.

Becky said...

The crock pot has definitely become my friend, especially on days I work (I only work 3 days a week). It's so nice to come home to a dinner that is at least mostly prepared, especially with 2 little ones to chase- it has definitely helped to preserve my sanity. That and anything I can prepare ahead of time- I tend to be a planner, so this works well for me...

One Who Understands said...

That's rough. One that that has helped me with dinner is planning for a week's worth of meals on Sunday when my hubby and I are both home and have time to sit and talk about what we want. Then I can go to the store Monday if I need anything, and be ready for the whole week. It has been easier for me know what I am going to cook each day. If I were in your shoes, I would also do prep work early in the day so when 6:30 rolls around all you have to do is put the pieces together. Hope you can find the balance you are looking for.

Coco said...

I am struggling with the exact same thing. My peditrician said that most babies have a "fussy" period in the evening (right when you need to be cooking dinner) because it's their undeveloped nervous system trying to cope with the stimulation of the day. So I just expect her to cry and need to be held non-stop from about 4 or 5pm on. I think that a crock pot meal that you could make in the morning and let cook all day would be brilliant... but doesn't work for me because I'm doing daycare for my sister, so my daytime is even more crazy than my evening. I just can't get anything done and I feel like the world's worst wife. Seriously. By the time my sister takes her daughter home, my daughter is in full fussy mode, and I can't do ANYTHING. And my husband, although I love him dearly, is less than supportive about it. Plus we're trying to eat super healthy, lots of raw food, lots of veggies... those don't exactly crockpot well. *sigh* If you find a secret way to do this, please let me know!!! :)

Trisha said...

It is so hard to find that balance especially at dinner! I tried to cook as much ahead as I could. The crock pot has been my life saver! Tommy also pitches in and helps, especially when I went back to work. Do you have a bouncey seat? We used to put Garrett in that and set him on top of the table with us and that would help. It has gotten easier now that he's older but then it turns in to you having to feed them as well :) I'm sure you're doing a great job....don't be hard on yourself---it's a new routine to learn :)

Traci said...

Ah yes I can remember that. Always when you sit down to eat the baby needs something...It became so frustrating. But really? It only lasts a couple of months. Soon you'll be back to your regular dinner routine.

Praying for Hope said...

I'm afraid we're still working on it. It's very, very difficult to come up with a healthy, tasty, from scrath meal with a baby in the house. Most of the time, I'm doing pasta, prepared food (I hate that I have to resort to that), burgers, or pizza (although I can make a nice homemade pizza using a Pillsbury crust, a low sodium sauce, and provolone cheese (better than mozzarella, in my opinion)). I miss cooking and baking, but you do what you have to do to put something on the table.

But it's temporary. At some point in the future, the baby will not need your constant attention 24 x 7. I naively thought that point would be when the baby is able to entertain herself, but that coincides with the start of crawling and walking and being able to get into everything you thought you'd baby-proofed but discovered there's nothing that can thwart a determined baby who obviously has the IQ of a rocket scientist and the talent of MacGyver. But I digress . . . .

I agree with Becky on the crock pot. If you can find an opportunity to throw something together, it does the rest, and you have a hot and tasty meal at the end of the day.

Something that has given me more time is the highchair. Your LO obviously isn't old enough for that yet, but once she becomes comfortable with feeding herself, you can buy yourself a few minutes by giving her a small snack while you prep for dinner. When it comes time to actually make dinner, you're already ahead of the game.

Melissa said...

I hear you and I understand how Mr. A isn't complaining, he's just used to a certain way. Understandable. My Hubs was that way too. I created a monster who expected dinner on time when he got home from work. Now? Not so much. So we had to work on it.

I definately use my crock-pot, cook a meal on Sunday that I can reserve for Monday...

But sometimes, I just don't want to be in the kitchen while The Hubs was home. I want quality time :)

Anyhow - try to put her in a bouncy seat. That would give me at least 15 good minutes. Then the rest of the time I would try to hold her and cook. Albeit it took longer but it worked.

Thinking of you! (hugs!)

Leah said...

Would it be possible for your husband to take over making dinner? At least for a while? My philosophy is, if my husband is hungry, he better find something to eat. Or perhaps while you cook, that could be your husband's special time with your daughter, so you can focus on cooking? I know it's hard to cook and stuff while holding a child.

H said...

I am in the same situation you are...we used to LOVE eating dinner and making it together but now that Aiden's here, very rarely are we able to eat dinner together. I do plan my menu a week in advance and try to have as many things chopped and cooked up so I just throw the last minute parts of the meal together. I think giving it some time and that old routine of having dinner together will come back...atleast I am hoping it will!

AL said...

Lately, I've been doing a lot of crock pot meals, since evening is always when Cheeks is the crankiest and the dog needs to go out.

I also found when Cheeks was younger it helped to chop whatever veggies I was planning to use during an afternoon naptime, so that I could do things one handed if needed with the cooking.

You guys will find a new routine, and don't be too hard on yourself as you figure things out.

BelowAverageAthlete said...

I think this is completely normal. I know that we went through it and still do sometimes depending on the day. I think some of it is creating a new normal of what things look like. My husband uses the time I am working on getting dinner finished to have quality time with our little girl. Now, we are struggling with having a nutrious dinner that all of us like that the baby can have too. Things are always changing and that is the new normal around here.

The Wife said...

You're going to find that your schedule is going to change so much so often. The schedule I have now with GV is so different than the schedule we had a year ago and VERY different than two years ago. Don't be afraid of switching things up. Everyone will adapt. I'm not a crock-pot cooker so I wait till Kevin is home so that he can take over watching GV and then I start making dinner. Just like I clean the kitchen when Kevin is giving GV a bath (also the noise always wakes GV up from napping). Two years ago we would cook dinner together and then eat at a cleared dining table and now we eat sitting on the floor with our food on the coffee table because GV will not sit in his high chair for longer than a few minutes.

the misfit said...

All I have to say is that you set a pretty darn high standard :). My DH and I both worked, and I can't remember the last time I cooked a meal THAT NIGHT for us to eat. I get home around 7:30...or later...so my grand plan (which sometimes happens and sometimes doesn't) is to have two kinds of food on hand each week that can be plated and microwaved. Usually, one I buy (a frozen pizza or lasagna or something like that) and one I make (a big batch of pasta or soup, or maybe a roast with vegetables if I can get it to reheat well). Calling my DH's attention to it so he remembers that it is there and can imagine how it would taste if he put it together, such that he will actually get himself some food before I get home, is the tricky part for me. He's not that naturally self-sufficient about feeding himself :). But, obviously, a sit-down dinner together is not something that we do - our work schedules don't really allow it. But obviously if it's something you are able to do, it's worth continuing! The suggestions of having him take care of M while you make dinner sound sensible to me (I wouldn't know myself how effective that is), and I guess from my routine the thing I would think works is to prepare food ahead and just reheat it, or thaw it if you made it far enough ahead. (Your DH could even be in charge of the reheating, if you told him exactly what he needed to do - I am assuming here that he can't cook.) I don't mean this to be harsh (at all), but is it possible that you're setting yourself a more difficult task (i.e., making chicken salad instead of just chicken sandwiches, or chicken with a side of veggies) each evening just to prove that you can do it, rather than cutting yourself a break and making something easy while you're busy?

callmemama said...

We wouldn't have dinner too often (or would end up with takeout) if my brother weren't staying with us and helping out! That said, the bouncy seat did used to give me at least 15 min of prep time (now, not so much since Isaac is sitting up). Then he'd go into the sling and I'd try and get the rest done. I got really good at making formula and filling Lact-aid bags one-handed, which is pretty darn hard to do.
My husband luckily doesn't have too high expectations for dinnertime, and he's pretty handy in the kitchen, so days when I did need help, he could provide it. Right now, if I menu plan and grocery shop smart, I have at least 4 or 5 put-together meals (easy ones) and a couple more we can throw together from leftovers or out of the pantry each week.
I still find myself nursing during dinner time a lot though! Or doing bathtime :). I guess we usually eat later - around 6:30 or 7 most nights.

Jennifer said...

When I get a chance I'm going to read and see what great suggestions your readers posted. I will say, it's gotten easier for us, as Ellie has gotten older. One of us feeds her while the other is making dinner...well I usually make dinner so my husband feeds her. ha! Then while we eat, we give her finger foods to eat. Before the finger foods, we put toys on her tray. That only lasts so long though. Dinner hasn't been the same since Ellie joined us either...but I sure don't mind. :) You'll figure out a routine that works for you...it just takes time. :)