How can you get your family to help with dinner more? Making dinner night after night can be very stressful for moms. How can we lessen the load on moms at dinner time, and how can you get your family to pitch in more with helping with food in general.
I like to cook. I really do. I’ve started a tradition of making something super yummy on Saturday mornings. I often have the time and I enjoy the time that I spend baking things my family loves.
I mostly love it because it is a quiet time in the morning (I’m a morning person by nature), I can put on a podcast and take my time… it’s amazing.
Vs dinnertime. I’m tired, they’re tired. My kids are often ornery and tired… and making dinner isn’t the joy of cooking I find at other times. 🙂
Do you get that feeling?
I have to say the pandemic of Covid was truly the straw that broke this camel’s back. The constant making and cleaning up of food was waring on me. I was also trying to keep everyone fairly happy and processing emotions and obviously pushing mine to the back burner.
I really felt like Julie on the Love Boat (I’m dating myself here). I was coming up with activities where people could have fun and find joy in the day. Plus I was the chef, and the housekeeper… well, you get the picture.
So, as we headed into month four or so of the pandemic I realized that I had hit a breaking point. My stylist mentioned my hair was falling out way more than usual (HELLO, PULLING CURLS can’t be BALD). I felt tense and wasn’t sleeping.
I knew things needed to change. Also, that this wasn’t a temporary thing. PLUS teaching my kids valuable life skills is only a benefit, am I right?
BTW, I talk all about having kids help more with dinner in my popular course Family Routines. I just… wasn’t following it. BUT, if you’re looking for more ideas to get your family to help out more — that course is the bomb. Join for just a month and then cancel, there is no obligation to stay!
Anyway, food was something I was NOT getting the help that I needed with.
So I made some changes. I want to show you a few of the changes I made that might help you gradually ease into this at your house:
Choosing What’s For Dinner
Oy vey — this is like half the battle! Picking what’s for dinner! I tend to like a lot of variety and I have a method of doing it but it was just a lot (not to mention the complaints when someone didn’t like what I picked).
So, kids pick what’s for dinner once a wek.
There are a few ways I make this work:
- They can pick whatever, but then they have to go grocery shop for the ingredients we don’t have. (works best with the 16 year old who can drive himself to the store)
- I have a list of meals we have ingredients for on our fridge so they can go through that and find what seems good.
- They pick early and add the things they need to the grocery list.
Helping With Dinner
For a long time we were doing this. But honestly, them “helping” me make dinner often involved a lot of yelling to get them to the kitchen and then conjoling them to stay. Not cool. I didn’t want to be in charge anymore.
Separate Dinner Days
This is where we are at now.
I have assigned each of our family a dinner day that they are in charge of. If they need my assistance with something I pop in and help out and then leave. They are in charge.
Now, our kids are older (ages 11 and 16 at this point) — so, this obviously wouldn’t be doable for everyone.
BUT there are a lot of kids cookbooks out there that kids could pick something they could learn how to make on their own.
And I don’t want you to think that I don’t end up having a heavy hand in helping. Last night I taught the 16 year old how to steam green beans. It wasn’t pretty, but now he knows, right?
I needed a mindshift that they were in charge of dinner, and could ask for help if they needed it – -vs me being charge of dinner and making them help.
I have also assigned each person a clean-up day.
Since there are just four of us, alternating Fridays a child gets to pick a more convenience meal for that evening (aka, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza rolls). On Saturdays we most often get take out. Sundays we’re fairly good about pitching in.
Anyway, it’s taken a load off of my plate.
Intuitive Eating or Intermittant Fasting as a Mom
I am really focusing on me here in the later half of 2020. I need to give myself more grace and more calm in my life. And intuitive eating is something I am using to do all of that with.
However, that means I don’t eat breakfast — as I am not hungry (it has turned into intermittent fasting). My kids sometimes look at me like “what’s for breakfast?” — and I have just bought some convenience foods and fruit that they can get if they’d like.
Again, I have to start putting myself first in some case. If I made them eggs, I’d make me some too… so I just stopped.
Maybe that’s lazy parenting, but they are all capable of making eggs, pouring cereal, toasting a bagel — so get in there and do it kids! 🙂
So, that’s what I am doing to make food time easier at our house. Any tips on how I could lessen the load?