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Dinnertime is a disaster!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My 28 month old no longer naps, and as a result we are having a huge problem with dinnertime.  I think I might need to totally revamp our eating/cooking schedule, but I'm feeling really bummed about it and hope someone out there can help me come up with a workable solution. 

 

So, our typical eating schedule is something like 7:30 breakfast, 11:30 lunch, 5:00 dinner.  DD sleeps from roughly 6 p.m. to 6:15 a.m.  I usually prep some stuff the night before, then start cooking supper at 4 or 4:30.  BUT - DD is completely exhausted at this time of day.  My cooking time is dreadful.  She whines and cries and claims she has to poop or pee even though she doesn't, tantrums over little things, the whole nine yards.  As a result, it ALWAYS takes me longer to cook than I've allocated, so then I feel really rushed because bedtime needs to happen so soon after supper that there's not a lot of leeway.  AND, even though I'm generally a pretty good cook, my suppers have been turning out awful (tonight's was inedible) because I'm so rushed and distracted. 

 

To top it all off, she's such a mess by 5 o'clock supper time that after all the fuss and the rush to get stuff cooked, DD almost never eats anything for supper.  Clearly I need to be giving her a big "supper" meal earlier in the day, but I don't know how to make that work without becoming a hermit.  If I do dinner at 4, then I have to cook dinner from 3 - 4 or so, which pretty much kills the entire afternoon.  I could cook dinner the night before, but I feel like most of the things I cook in the summertime are not so great leftover. 

 

Sigh.  How do other parents of no-nappers deal with this dinner conundrum without creating a really isolating schedule? 

post #2 of 8

I've recently started using the crockpot more (which is nice for summer :) and throw stuff in it in the morning and it's usually done around 4 which means I can feed DS around 4:45pm w/o having to do too much other than plate (this week I made a vat of beans on one day and then we had burritos one night, rice and beans the next (rice I can make and it's hands off while it cooks), and then he had quesadillas the next...so that was three meals ready to go other than heating up.  We are vegetarian so my challenge is crockpot vegetarian recipe finding.  And, regardless of whether he sleeps or not, he has quiet time in his room alone...and I will often prep dinner then.  

post #3 of 8
I have been thinking we might need to change our night time routine as well. LO has recently hanged herself from an 8pm asleep time (in bed 7-7:30) to asking for bed around 6pm which is when we'd been having dinner.

I was thinking of making dinner after she is asleep (probably doing some of it beforehand and just finishing afterwards) dishing up a plate for her as usual and giving it to her for lunch the next day. Before bed she could have something simple like a sandwich or baked beans. For days when the dinner won't keep overnight I'll probably use frozen leftovers or eggs or something simple like that.
post #4 of 8
What about giving her a more dinner type meal at lunch (even dinner leftover from the night before) and then an easier lunch meal for her dinner (grilled cheese or whatever she normally eats for lunch)? Then you can put her to bed and cook a normal and relaxing dinner while she's asleep for you and your husband saving some for her lunch the next day? Kind of rules out family dinner time, but it doesn't sound like that's going so well right now anyway.
post #5 of 8

We try and feed the heavier meals in the morning and lunch and then dinner is lighter. So, breakfast (7) is always protein-heavy and lunch (12) is pretty large. (5) Dinner for the kids is lighter and might be leftovers of some sort. They have bath right after and then play before story time (7) and we polish off some whole milk yogurt, often greek, during story reading.I usually leave the leftovers on the table for slovenly reasons but I've noticed that both kids tend to graze a bit after dinner. I think dinner might be a little early sometime. Lights are out at 7:45-8.

 

If the kids are cranky than I prep a small activity before cooking like cleaning off the art table and arranging some art supplies or setting up the learning tower so they can help or paint in the kitchen with me. If everyone is really cranky I let them "play water" or put them in the bath while I cook.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wishin'&hopin' View Post

I've recently started using the crockpot more (which is nice for summer :) and throw stuff in it in the morning and it's usually done around 4 which means I can feed DS around 4:45pm w/o having to do too much other than plate (this week I made a vat of beans on one day and then we had burritos one night, rice and beans the next (rice I can make and it's hands off while it cooks), and then he had quesadillas the next...so that was three meals ready to go other than heating up.  We are vegetarian so my challenge is crockpot vegetarian recipe finding.  And, regardless of whether he sleeps or not, he has quiet time in his room alone...and I will often prep dinner then.  


So, uh, how'd you get that quiet time alone thing to happen?  We're still working on that.  Not going so well. 

 

Crockpot is a good idea, especially when I'm trying not to add any heat to the kitchen.  I have a hard time with it because I'm usually a very hands on (spoon in the pot adjusting stuff every two seconds) cook.  I'll have to search for some recipes.  I did try having supper made the night before and feeding her at 4:45 today.  Still didn't go well. 

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by katelove View Post

I have been thinking we might need to change our night time routine as well. LO has recently hanged herself from an 8pm asleep time (in bed 7-7:30) to asking for bed around 6pm which is when we'd been having dinner.
I was thinking of making dinner after she is asleep (probably doing some of it beforehand and just finishing afterwards) dishing up a plate for her as usual and giving it to her for lunch the next day. Before bed she could have something simple like a sandwich or baked beans. For days when the dinner won't keep overnight I'll probably use frozen leftovers or eggs or something simple like that.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

We try and feed the heavier meals in the morning and lunch and then dinner is lighter. So, breakfast (7) is always protein-heavy and lunch (12) is pretty large. (5) Dinner for the kids is lighter and might be leftovers of some sort. They have bath right after and then play before story time (7) and we polish off some whole milk yogurt, often greek, during story reading.I usually leave the leftovers on the table for slovenly reasons but I've noticed that both kids tend to graze a bit after dinner. I think dinner might be a little early sometime. Lights are out at 7:45-8.

 

If the kids are cranky than I prep a small activity before cooking like cleaning off the art table and arranging some art supplies or setting up the learning tower so they can help or paint in the kitchen with me. If everyone is really cranky I let them "play water" or put them in the bath while I cook.

 

 

So, I think "dinner at lunch" might be the way we have to lean, as you all have suggested.  I'm wondering how I would deal with it for myself, as I'm used to feeding DD and I the same thing for each meal.  I don't think I'd have much better luck preparing dinner midday than I have in the evening, so it would have to be done the night before.  And we also generally have a fairly prep-heavy lunch (rather than just a sandwich) because I find that we don't eat enough veggies if I don't actually cook lunch and dinner.  Lunch for us is often a soup, a fritatta, or occasionally a pasta dish.  I often cook a veggie side to go with lunch, too.  So...would I eat dinner at lunchtime with DD?  Or when it's freshly made in the evening?  I don't like the idea of not sharing two meals of the day with her.  And then I think we still will have to move her dinner earlier in the evening.  Or perhaps kind of split up the lighter evening meal so that part of it goes with her afternoon snack? 

post #8 of 8
You could eat last night's dinner with her the following lunchtime as well if you're not opposed to leftovers. We often have dinner leftovers for lunch, either in the same form or slightly rejigged. The last couple of days I've been frying leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes in a pan with some butter for lunch. I didn't have any other veggies leftover but you could easily throw then in if you did or steam some greens fresh at the time.

If you're used to cooking lunch anyway you could keep doing that and then use last night's dinner as her mid/late afternoon snack.
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