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how to get everything done, especially dinner?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hey mamas (and dads?),
I have a new situation that I need some help with. DS is 3 in August and goes to Montessori school daily 8:45 - 3:30. I work full time. His dad - DP/F/soon to be hubby - works 2 - 3 nights a week. We have 1 car and DP drops everyone off in the morning and picks up everyone at appropriate times, does nearly all grocery shopping and all the cooking. I loathe cooking. We try to eat pretty healthy and don't eat much pre-prepared foods. In fact, DP has spoiled me to the point that I don't really like anything like that, even the stuff I used to eat. Add to the current situation that we just moved and spent the past month mostly eating out, a lot of it fast food horrors.gif Finally, we haven't finished unpacking yet. Sigh. We also have 2 large dogs.

New situation: DP might start a month long job where he will essentially either be sleeping or at work. He did tell them he has to be able to pick up DS & I, so he'll get a break long enough for that. And we would put DS in aftercare until 4:30 so our pickup times would be closer.

There are 2 problems. 1 - I'm already not coping well with the amount of responsibility I have. I can accept a certain level of not cleaned house, but I'm pretty much the only one that cleans regularly. DS is pretty needy/clingy and also very .... 2. =P He's a handful. I'm currently trying to make sure I spend some time with him first thing when I get home to reconnect. We'll see if that helps. I'm also thinking I might trying wearing him on my back. He's 30 lbs, maybe more, but I know moms carry older kids, I'm just not used to it. I have really good wraps so theoretically I should be able to do so. We also have a backyard if I could get him to go out in it more without me!

Problem 2, and the bigger one really. What are we going to eat??? I already feel like I don't have enough time between end of work day and bed to get everything done. How do I add this huge chore? I don't mind the occasional frozen pizza, but more than once a week is a definite no. And I'd rather not heat up the house with the oven right now as we live in the desert and are already getting highs at 90. We do have a great crockpot and a toaster/convection oven.

I have HUGE admiration for single moms!! How do they do it?
post #2 of 16
I definitely recommend the crockpot. We went a good long time where I made all of our meals with the crockpot -- even breakfast. All it takes is cutting up meat and veggies and tossing them into the pot with spices in the mornings. It doesn't heat up the house like the oven, and you walk into the house in the evenings with the wonderful smell of a home-cooked dinner already made and waiting to be served. The only drawback is that if you do it every night, you eventually get tired of your food being cooked in basically the same way every night. So it's nice to eat something different on the weekends, and occasionally throw in something else quick and easy (like broiled fish or baked chicken).

Here's the website I used to find a TON of healthy and easy crockpot recipes -- she did a full year of making a different recipe every day: http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/
post #3 of 16

We eat mostly out out the crockpot during the week nights because of this. My other two ways are to make up things like casseroles the night before and then pop them in the oven the following night when we get home and I rarely cook a meal just for one night because of lack of time. It needs to feed us for two nights somehow. Crockpot chicken one night gets turned into chicken tacos the next, etc... I double almost all my recipes for this reason. 

post #4 of 16
Right at this minute I have chicken taco soup cooking in the crockpot. I threw in 2 extra chicken breasts that I will pull out and shred for chicken tacos that we eat tonight. The soup is for the weekend. Breakfast for dinner can also be good, and still healthy. I find if I have a two week plan so that I know at least what we are having each night it really helps. So one night the first week we may have chili and the next week we might have chili topped baked potatoes. Just different enough that you don't get sick of it.
post #5 of 16
How soon does the month start? I would suggest spending a couple of days off beforehand cooking for your freezer. Then just microwave meals as needed. Also stock up on quick things. Are you ok with frozen pizza bases? It only takes a few minutes to chop veggies for the top. Another of my quick meals is wraps chopped tomato, cucumber a d avocado, crumbled fetta, a tin of tuna or chick peas and a lime juice/olive oil dressing wrapped in your favourite flat bread.

Worse case scenario we have baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Today he works 1 - 5 because he told them he wasn't available tonight, otherwise, it's starting now. He will have Monday's off at least, so there is going to have to be some freezer stocking, but I suspect that's mostly going to be a sleep catchup day. It's so sudden because there was someone else doing the job that didn't work out. Hopefully DS will nap a little longer. I'm trying to use this time right now to plan out this week at least.
post #7 of 16

crock pot! i'm also a fan of sepnding 3 hours on a weekdn prepping, slicing, and filling freezer bags with all (or most) of the ingredients, write a quick lable about how long to cook or last minute add-ins for day of and viola - meals for at least a month!  plus it makes it easier to shop when things are on sale a buy in bulk. I've gotten TONS of ideas for freezer meals on pinterest - from stews and chilis to curry and BBQ chicken.  All of ours are dairy free bc of DD and I do minimal meats, adding beans and lentils to bulk things up for DH's sake since he likes stuff to be "filling".

post #8 of 16

 I panic leaving the crock on while I'm gone all day (when I was gone all day) but I'm a huge fan of bulk cooking dinners for the freezer.  We even have an extra freezer (thank you, Freecycle & Craigslist... and some cleaning :)  ).

 

As for the little one, google "Toddler travel bags" or "toddler activity bags".  You can make those up and give him something fun to do when you need to get something done.

 

He's old enough to help with laundry (take it to laundry room, put it in washer with your help, etc.) and a few other things around the house (setting the table, cleaning up toys) and really--it may help reduce the struggles if he has some sense of "control" by way of having responsibilities.

post #9 of 16
One other idea.....in the northeast there is a grocery shopping service called Pea Pod. There may be a similar type of service provided by a large grocer near you. Shop the site online and it gets delivered the next day. I used it once when I was in a pinch as my son was ill and my husband working, so I didn't want to go to the grocery store. It was a real life saver.

I also think your idea per back carry might be a really nice way to reconnect after being apart all day. He may really enjoy it especially since he seems to really desire that closeness at this age.

BTW that crockpot site pp mentioned looks wonderful.
post #10 of 16
In addition to meal planning, I think activity planning with your son will be helpful too. If you need to do chores, figure out how he can either help you or stay occupied while you tackle laundry or whatever. Does he like to color, play blocks, watch Sesame Street? At my house cooking & cleaning is pretty much all on me and I'm not afraid to turn on PBS kids when I need to.

Don't be overwhelmed with too many crockpot choices. Here's some things I make on a regular basis in my crockpot: pulled pork, spaghetti sauce, beef stew, split pea soup, and chili.

Buy a whole chicken and cook it on low with a few cups of water. Save the broth it makes for soup or to make chicken and rice. Take the meat off the bone and use it in enchiladas, sandwiches, pasta etc.

Make sure your pantry is well stocked with basics such as beans, broth, canned tomatoes, various spices etc!

For our family of three I find we are able to eat leftovers about twice a week, so plan for leftovers by cooking a little more at the time.

You will soon have some things you can make comfortably which are delicious!
post #11 of 16

How are things going so far? 

 

i was thinking about this thread while cooking supper tonight, and had a few food ideas if you get tired of the crockpot.  Stir-fry might work for a quick meal if you prep all your ingredients in advance.  You can buy a pre-made stir-fry sauce, and then it would just take a few minutes to cook up the meat/veggies. You could even get pre-chopped veggies to make it that much easier.  I usually stick with very simple stir-fries so it's easier to prep and doesn't get out of hand.  Chicken or beef with broccoli, tofu with mushrooms and snap peas, pork with shredded cabbage...Also, what about grilling?  It makes fewer dishes, and your LO might have more fun playing outside while you cook than inside.  I like to pouch up veggies like mushrooms, green beans, or potatoes in tin foil and slap them on the grill, or you could do kebabs with a store-bought marinade. 

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
It's going both better and worse than expected. He woke from his nap Sunday with a much worse cough then he'd gone to sleep with. Testing at the clinic on Monday morning = strep. He's on antibiotics but it's now morphed into maybe ear infection or upper respiratory infection. Luckily I can work from home, but he's spent a lot of time in front of the TV (amazon prime) the last few days. Poor guy is coughing so hard.

On the plus side, DH's hours are 6pm - 5am with Monday off, which gives him enough time to prep some stuff for me. We've had a grazing supper, english muffin pizza, something that I've forgotten, beans & rice. Of course, DS is barely eating anyway greensad.gif This morning I coaxed him to finish his oatmeal by distracting him with a Lindsey Stirling video. So, we haven't really gotten into the regular groove yet. Hopefully I don't get very sick and he gets better and ... well, then we'll see.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonalee View Post

It's going both better and worse than expected. He woke from his nap Sunday with a much worse cough then he'd gone to sleep with. Testing at the clinic on Monday morning = strep. He's on antibiotics but it's now morphed into maybe ear infection or upper respiratory infection. Luckily I can work from home, but he's spent a lot of time in front of the TV (amazon prime) the last few days. Poor guy is coughing so hard.

Wow, that's very strange. Strep usually does not present with coughing. I'd be concerned that the clinic missed something. Last week my husband went to an Urgent Care clinic and was diagnosed with an ear infection. They completely missed that it was a full on sinus infection AND bronchitis.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by michelleepotter View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by neonalee View Post

It's going both better and worse than expected. He woke from his nap Sunday with a much worse cough then he'd gone to sleep with. Testing at the clinic on Monday morning = strep. He's on antibiotics but it's now morphed into maybe ear infection or upper respiratory infection. Luckily I can work from home, but he's spent a lot of time in front of the TV (amazon prime) the last few days. Poor guy is coughing so hard.

Wow, that's very strange. Strep usually does not present with coughing. I'd be concerned that the clinic missed something. Last week my husband went to an Urgent Care clinic and was diagnosed with an ear infection. They completely missed that it was a full on sinus infection AND bronchitis.

Totally possible. But my SD and DH have both been sick for the previous week as well with the same cough. Since he's already on antibiotics I figure there isn't much more they can do for him at this point. TBH he already had a small cough and runny nose. The only reason I took him for a strep test was an email received from his school. They've had a bad case of strep going around and couldn't get rid of it. They mentioned one of the girls that had it, the only "symptom" she had was vomiting a few times one night. Apparently strep can present without the sore throat and there are lesser known symptoms. I hadn't known that, and DS had vomited the previous week (we though due to pizza/running around/whatever) so I brought him in and, what do ya know, he had it.

Heh, that's a long way of saying I agree with you, but nothing further to do right now innocent.gif
post #15 of 16

Another idea is having your son "cook" with you.  We have a Learning Tower my son loves to be in standing next to me and helping. It often takes double the time with twice as much mess but at least he stays entertained and dinner gets cooked.  I often give him some flour, rice, oats to stir around in a bowl with a whisk and some measuring cups/spoons and he does his own thing.  Sometimes he helps with the actual meal like snapping asparagus spears, washing veggies, tearing greens into pieces, etc. He loves to taste all the ingredients and smell the herbs and spices.  Learning Towers can be pricey but with a needy child, they are sooo worth it.  Or since he's almost 3, a study chair or stepstool may work too. Hope your little man is feeling better! 

post #16 of 16
After our last move, we set a goal of unpacking a box per day. On Saturdays or Sundays before we left for a fun activity we'd set a time for 20 minutes and dedicate that time to a particular room, I'd unpack box, hang up a picture, make the bed and have made decent progress before time was up.

When we don't have a dinner plan, my husband or I stop at the supermarket for a rotisserie chicken + a bag of salad + a tomato + a loaf of French bread from the bakery isle. It costs $10-12 total for a warm chicken, simple salad & fresh bread. The next day we'll make chicken sandwiches & bake frozen sweet potato fries.

As for the other household chores, consider looking up The FlyLady. I don't follow her religiously, but she has some helpful & practical housekeeping tips. A few I like: load & run dishwasher before bed everynight, unload it while coffee brews each morning, start a load of laundry a day to keep chaos away... The site has a guideline for a Weekly Home Blessing that I find helpful: you vacuum the middle of each room one a week, empty every garbage bin in the house, wipe down the mirrors (or in my case the crayon covered windows & tv).

Set realistic expectations for yourself, you have a lot on your plate right now. Do the best you can & make sure to take care of yourself and enjoy whatever time you get together as a family.
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