Single moms and dinnertime with kids - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Kids are starting daycare this week and I start work on Thursday. By the time I get done with work and pick up the kids, it will be past 6pm and they are all little monsters because they refuse to eat the "new" foods at daycare and are tired.

How do you handle dinner at your house? It makes me crazy when we walk into the house and they are all demanding to eat. How do you make the transition between daycare to home work in your home?? I don't want to give them a snack because it will ruin their appetite for dinner. I need at least 15-20 minutes to prepare the meal, set the table, get drinks, and serve the food. I can I do this without all the meltdowns and tantrums?
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#2 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 11:29 AM
 
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i can understand how crabby kids would be when dinner is between 6:30 and 7pm (which ours often is too). if you give them a small, protein-rich snack immediately at pick up time, would their appetite for dinner (30-45 minutes later) really be ruined? that's not the case for my kids, but i understand they're all different.

i have one "good" eater and a picky one; however my "good" eater is vegetarian and they give him a pb&j like every day for lunch. i mean, he eats whatever else is being served, like if there are potatoes, veggies, fruit, muffin, vegetable or tomato soup . . . but sometimes the meal is predominantly meat and i know he's just eating a sandwich, so i'm trying hard to balance that out with our meals at home. however, i also really want/need it to be quick and easy.

i feel like we get our "reconnection" time in the car. we talk about their day, what we're doing that night, and what else is coming up in the near future. once we get home, they want to play with their toys or ride bikes/scooters if it's nice out, so that allows me to get dinner rolling. if they are grumpy and not playing well (so i have to stop what i'm doing to split them up or whatever), um, i will probably put on a video. i know. but we do what we have to do, right?

my mom has been sweet enough to give me some frozen food (that she cooked) which is easy for me to heat up. i've never had a microwave until me & stbx separated, but now i think it's awesome. other quick stuff i make: pasta (i get barilla plus, because it has protein) with a really simple sauce or primavera or just oil and a little cheese; breakfast-for-dinner kind of stuff; soup, my boys love soup. we're in a temporary living situation but when i get back to my kitchen, i'm super excited to start using my crockpot a few days a week, making big batches and freezing. that way dinner will either be ready when we get home, or will be waiting in the freezer to be nuked.

i don't know what i would do without snacks, though. sometimes i have something in the car for them, or sometimes i give them a snack right when we get home. other nights they're less hungry - once your kids get more accustomed to the food at daycare, they will start eating more. i forgot, i was going to say that about my picky eater, it just took him some time.

if your kids are having tantrums because they want/need your attention, how about letting them help by setting the table or doing other chores? or just sitting on the counter and talking to you while you cook?
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#3 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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It is hard. You will learn a rhythm over time.

Cook extra on the weekends so that you only have to reheat food to get it on the table faster.

and, um, yeah, but sometimes my kids just can't wait that long and sometimes they want cereal for dinner.

It's ok, it all works out in the end.

Don't stress, kids will pick up on the stress and reflect it back.



Last night was eggs and toast for dinner. At least it is a carb and a protein. ODD had a bagel that we stopped to pick up at the grocery store.
then their was some cereal, bunny crackers, cookies and ice cream. It is usually a hodge podge of stuff. They don't normally eat all the snack foods, but life has been stressful for them lately, and these are the things they asked for (and the reason I went to the grocery store since I don't usually have a lot of that kind of stuff at home), so I obliged them their special requests.
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#4 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 11:43 AM
 
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A disclaimer that I'm not a single mom, but DH and I split the "daycare-pick-up-and-start-dinner" duties so the other spouse stays later at work, arriving home just in time to sit down at the table.

I second double-dutch in offering a snack as soon as you walk in the door. We give DS applesauce, yogurt or dry cereal, but protein would be even better. DS just whirls around the kitchen, grabbing at what he can out of the pantry, unless/until he gets something in his belly. It doesn't seem to significantly affect his appetite for dinner, but it does make him calm down and stay out of my hair while I cook.

I also second cooking on the weekend, and making meals that have left-over potential. But, even with leftovers, it takes me 20 minutes to get things on the table! (and we have 2 microwaves )

DH has developed a better routine (than I), where he sends DS into the playroom while he cooks. However, DH also feeds DS a snack the minute he walks in the door. It's just that they somehow have a better routine about DS staying out of the kitchen.

If I had more than one and/or a TV downstairs, I'd be tempted to use it while I cooked dinner. I'd rather have DS put in his 20-30 minutes of screen time before dinner than before bed.

DS, 10/07. Allergies: peanut, egg, wheat. We've added dairy back in. And taken it back out again. It causes sandpaper skin with itchy patches and thrashing during sleep. Due w/ #2 late April, 2012.

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#5 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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I not only work full-time, but also have a daughter who has gymnastics training from 5.30 to 8pm twice a week. This really puts a spin on fast dinners.
I make large quantities of food on the weekend, so I can reheat things during the week, and I use the crockpot once or twice a week as well.
Gymnastics nights I feed my younger daughter (who doesn,t have gymnastics) at 6pm, and she and I eat together. When big sis comes home ( and I have to go pick her up), it's a race to have her eat quickly, but not too quickly, and have them go to bed.

My kids are also VERY hungry when I pick them up, but they know that 'snack' will be raw vegetables, usually carrots, celery, cauliflour, etc. This means they can fill their tummies without totally ruining their dinner. Some days they don't want these things, so then they wait for dinner (my kids are 4 and 7).

Single mama to a 5yo and 8yo

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#6 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 01:11 PM
 
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i don't have this problem yet because i'm mostly unemployed. but my kids get way out of whack if i don't keep their blood sugar on an even keel, so protein snacks are a big part of it. we are also gluten-free, and so rarely have bread to make sandwiches. we make sticks of ham, or rolled lunch meats. we eat lots of hard boiled eggs sliced in half with mayo on top - almost deviled eggs. when we ate dairy i made cheese sticks. i also make very tasty egg nogs with a couple pastured yolks, molasses, nutritional yeast, and sometimes homemade chocolate syrup (i make quarts of this). i used to make these with raw milk but now it's usually coconut. the nogs don't tend to spoil dinner, but they do help with the blood sugar crash. smoothie popsicles are also good for this- i make mine in disposable paper cups with wood sticks, since i am a plastic hater. many things will stay plenty cool in a cooler in your trunk with an ice pack, like the hb eggs or ham, even though we are led to believe they'll spoil quite quickly.
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#7 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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we eat lots of hard boiled eggs sliced in half with mayo on top - almost deviled eggs.
it's a mayonegg!
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#8 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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Crashing from new posts:

I would always give my kids a snack immediately on pick up from daycare (well actually we waited until the car so that I could bribe them to get into their seats ). Usually it was a piece of fruit and/or a bit of cheese. It rarely spoiled their dinner, but it did make life a lot easier when we got home. And even if it does spoil their dinner, if it's something healthy like fruit and a bit of protein, do you really care??

Suggestions for quick meals:
Scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast and fruit + milk
Tacos (make the meat and shred the cheese, lettuce, tomatoes ahead of time, just heat the beans and meat)
Grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup

A good friend of mine was raised by a single mom (and raised well!), and her mom's desperation dinner was: cold cereal with milk and fruit. You gotta do what you gotta do. She thought it was great!

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#9 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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If you have a crock pot you could always start that in the morning, then when you walked in the door dinner would be ready. Get some rolls you just warm up, and a salad and voila! Other things that are quick include breakfast items, soups, and frozen meals.
I think if you gave them a small snack right when you pick them up, to eat in the car, that it wouldn't spoil their dinner and would keep the pestering down right when you walk in the door. Maybe just a piece of fruit or string cheese?

I understand your frustration. My dd goes to daycare mwf and she won't hardly touch the food given to her. She will come home and say she ate grapes for breakfast and broccoli for lunch. Needless to say, when she is home she is constantly asking for food.

E Veg*n Mom to ds 6 : dd 3
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#10 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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I don't work but I do have a DS who is incredibly grouchy when he finishes school. I found that taking a snack and a drink for him to eat in the car on the way home makes life much easier. Nothing big, just some cheese and crackers or a peanut butter sandwich or something. It helps take the edge off, give some energy and even out blood sugar.

Crockpots are great. As is cooking on the weekends and freezing meals so you can just reheat them. Or cooking extra and freezing the leftovers. Eggs are always a good, quick meal. You can cook scrambled eggs in the microwave in about two minutes. Sometimes, on nights when I can't really be bothered cooking we do an antipasto platter with some veggies, fruit, cheese, ham or similar, crackers and some dip.

It's complicated.
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#11 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 08:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chicmom View Post
Kids are starting daycare this week and I start work on Thursday. By the time I get done with work and pick up the kids, it will be past 6pm and they are all little monsters because they refuse to eat the "new" foods at daycare and are tired.

How do you handle dinner at your house? It makes me crazy when we walk into the house and they are all demanding to eat. How do you make the transition between daycare to home work in your home?? I don't want to give them a snack because it will ruin their appetite for dinner. I need at least 15-20 minutes to prepare the meal, set the table, get drinks, and serve the food. I can I do this without all the meltdowns and tantrums?
My DS (age 4) usually has a small snack as soon as we get home, then he sets the table while I cook dinner. He can manage plates, cups and silverware on his own and that leaves me free to make dinner. A great snack is the vegetables you were putting in dinner; put them on a plate with a bit of a dip and they get in their veg.

I usually cook a pot of something for Sunday dinner; then we take that for lunches or have it for dinner the next couple of days. Crockpots also are very helpful. We also do sandwiches and breakfasts for dinner.
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#12 of 24 Old 10-05-2010, 08:31 PM
 
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I do my best. what else can I do. I am usually exhausted when I get home from work. We have a lot of pasta and jar sauce. Stir fry from frozen veggies with rice (I have a rice cooker. love it) , I'll make up big pots of easy curries and serve them with rice. these last usually two or three meals. My big freezer saves me. crock pot meals. Tonight is frozen lasagna and its my day off...oh the shame! cereal is not unheard of. Soup is a huge one. lots of soup. On my days off I usually cook something bigger (casserole) and serve left overs later in the week. I try to come home on my lunch break and do something to help dinner out. either clean my kitchen or prep the veggies. We have a lot of salad. fast, easy, nutritious.

and I agree. hand them a snack the minute they get in the car. That will help. Also if you are getting off work have yourself a small snack as well. it will give you the stamina you need to make a little supper don't forget to take care of yourself.

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#13 of 24 Old 10-06-2010, 07:42 AM
 
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I rely heavily on my crockpot and one dish meals. I get up a few minutes early and get dinner in the crockpot so that it's all ready when I get home. I also prepare their cups of juice/water/milk and stash in the fridge so that it shaves a little time off getting things ready at dinnertime. I keep snacks in the car and give each kid something to snack on during the drive home if they seem extra peckish.
I make my meals large enough that I can have leftovers so that I only cook every other night. I have one day off during the week that I can take the kids to daycare and have free time to do extra cooking and cleaning so that my time with the kids on the weekends is my time with the kids.
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#14 of 24 Old 10-06-2010, 11:36 AM
 
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A disclaimer that I'm not a single mom, but DH and I split the "daycare-pick-up-and-start-dinner" duties so the other spouse stays later at work, arriving home just in time to sit down at the table.

I second double-dutch in offering a snack as soon as you walk in the door. We give DS applesauce, yogurt or dry cereal, but protein would be even better. DS just whirls around the kitchen, grabbing at what he can out of the pantry, unless/until he gets something in his belly. It doesn't seem to significantly affect his appetite for dinner, but it does make him calm down and stay out of my hair while I cook.

I also second cooking on the weekend, and making meals that have left-over potential. But, even with leftovers, it takes me 20 minutes to get things on the table! (and we have 2 microwaves )

DH has developed a better routine (than I), where he sends DS into the playroom while he cooks. However, DH also feeds DS a snack the minute he walks in the door. It's just that they somehow have a better routine about DS staying out of the kitchen.

If I had more than one and/or a TV downstairs, I'd be tempted to use it while I cooked dinner. I'd rather have DS put in his 20-30 minutes of screen time before dinner than before bed.
If right when you get home doesn't work, can you keep some non-messy snack foods in the car? I know kids can make anything messy, but some granola bars, trail mix, or even some oatmeal cookies would make good on-the-way-home snacks that likely wouldn't spoil dinner.
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#15 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 02:48 PM
 
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dd is just not a one-meal kind of girl, so I've adapted evening food around that. In the car on the way home, there's usually some fruit, cheese, etc., ready for her as she is Irritable within minutes otherwise. Once home, I put out pickles, veg, lettuce, etc. and we both graze on it. Sometimes then we reheat something, sometimes cook up something and either she eats it or not, but honestly we have dinner #2 at about 9 or 9:30 or she will wake from her sleep ravenous. I swear she was like this as a nurser also. I figure some day we'll have more formal dinners but right now all I really care about is some healthy food getting into her body. And I also want her to be listening to her body and eating when she feels hunger as opposed to when I say "now we will sit here and eat all this food all at once" as I am suspicious of the 3-meal-day idea. It doesn't seem to be working very well for most people.

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#16 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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Breakfast for dinner was not unheard of when I was a single mom, and while it's infrequent now, it's still definitely an option. It's actually a favorite for dd.

I also keep cooked rice and cooked beans in the fridge to use as bases for other foods throughout the week- with those already prepped I can pull together soft tacos, stir frys etc in less than 20 mins.

I also am not a big believer in three meals a day- particularly for younger kids. They are hungry RIGHT NOW when they are hungry. I keep a drawer of snacks in the fridge, and they can grab something from there whenever they are hungry, even if it's right before dinner (string cheese, fruit, hardboiled eggs, packets of almonds etc.)
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#17 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 03:28 PM
 
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when i pick up my dd on her car seat is waiting her snack. usually some veggie or yoghurt or fruit or popcorn.

dinner is always precooked.

or a quick ricecooker rice with brocolli and brags.

my dd doesnt eat cheese or nuts so its hard for me to find stuff. sometimes her snack is rice with brags and sesame seeds. or japanese rice seasoning.

we have done oatmeal bearmush for dinner.

i tend to think the moment they get out the first thing they notice is their stomach

actually come to think of it, so do i.

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#18 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 06:53 PM
 
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mayonegg, ha! just want to point out, when grownups graze while wearing nice clothes, it's called tapas, and nobody worries about them ;}
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#19 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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My kids are terrible about snacks. If they have one--they are ruined for dinner--so much so in fact that I had to ask our after school care person to give the kids the snack, but tell them to put it in their backpacks to have as dessert (she has a policy that a snack must be offered, which I'm totally fine with)....
I sometimes will cook more pasta than needed and microwave the next day.
My kids are terrible eaters--probably worse than most and in fact, dd was on a feeding tube for the first few years of life.
So now it's stuff like hot dogs (nuke), cereal cold, pasta (nuked) and yogurt and fruit.
Not great, but it makes life easier all around. I also make up for the guilt by having real meals on the weekends
AND
the best trick of all
Wednesday night we eat dinner at our church! That's a real treat--I just pay on Sundays when I'm there.

And I'm TOTALLY solo.
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#20 of 24 Old 10-07-2010, 09:11 PM
 
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aaah but see i dont see snack as 'spoiling dinnertime', but the first leg of dinner. so dd uusally gets her veggies eaten before dinner time. or pasta.

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#21 of 24 Old 10-08-2010, 02:14 AM
 
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aaah but see i dont see snack as 'spoiling dinnertime', but the first leg of dinner. so dd uusally gets her veggies eaten before dinner time. or pasta.
In our house we called the fruit and veggies I served first "apple-tizers". He'd actually end up eating way more if there weren't other things on the table competing. Usually he'd go straight to the table with a glass of water a plate of either frozen (currently frozen, not previously frozen, he liked them that way) or raw veggies, and a bowl of fruit to help himself to. Then dinner was usually something super simple, like a whole grain, a protein and maybe another veggie.
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#22 of 24 Old 10-08-2010, 06:06 AM
 
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I like to get the kids involved in helping prepare dinner, set the table, etc. Also, if we get home really late, I make do with fast food.

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#23 of 24 Old 10-08-2010, 11:27 PM
 
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my mom always did the veggie first thing, and it worked on us. cucumbers and ranch aren't very filling. it kind of depends on how long the snack needs to hold them. protein and fat are what fill us up. carbs just turn into sugar in our guts, and go right to our bloodstream like candy (whole grain carbs do this also, but get released more slowly into the blood). so, fruit, veg, and light or controlled portions of carbs and fats are snacks that don't really stick with us. popcorn?
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#24 of 24 Old 10-09-2010, 03:17 AM
 
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I've actually done away with dinner altogether. I can't get my kids to sit down anyway, and they prefer simple foods, so we just snack until bedtime. It might not be popular, but it's the only way I can keep my sanity.

I found that anything I made for them didn't get eaten anyway, so I stopped wasting my energy.

When my kids get home, I offer nuts, dried fruit, cut-up veggies and fruit, yogurt, trader joes burritos or fish sticks or something like that. They eat it in the car, while playing, while running around the house, etc...

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