Synthesis

“ I do not like making dinner midweek, I’d rather spend my time playing with the kids. I used to like cooking before I had kids and had more time to think about what to cook, could eat dinner at 9pm at night, and had friends who would be grateful for whatever I made. Now when I finish work at 6pm, I look in the refrigerator, well, I mostly look in the freezer and think, “What can I make in 10 minutes that’s somewhat healthy? Only it never takes me 10 minutes. It takes more like 40 minutes and it’s time I would rather spend playing with the kids. I’ve got to cobble together a meal including protein, vegetables, grain, and a healthy dessert. I find myself always going back to the same old things like pasta, frozen fish sticks, and chicken nuggets, although I’m always wishing I could introduce more variety into what we eat. I don’t really plan ahead but I look to see what food in the fridge that I’ve been neglecting and might go bad and see if I can use that in some way. Usually the kids are asking me if I can play with them so it’s hard to keep my focus. And I actually would rather play with them. After awhile, they get cranky because dinner is taking much longer than I said it would take. I’ve thought about involving them in the cooking but that would just extend the amount of time it takes to get the meal ready and we are usually already running late and I have to clear the kids’ homework off the dinner table before I can set the table with silverware, plates, and a glass of water for each kid. I also have to make sure everyone washes their hands before they sit down at the table. Sometimes I can enlist the kids help in setting the table but not always. They are usually pretty hungry and not in the mood to help. They just want to start eating, but I want them to pause and say something they are grateful for. Dinner goes by in a flash. It takes no more than 10 minutes and there is usually at least one spill to clean up. After dinner, I usually have a lot of dirty dishes to clean up. I don’t mind putting the dishes into the dishwasher, but if I’ve prepared a big meal, it takes longer to clean everything up. I don’t want to just rip open a bag of something frozen and put it on a plate, but its both easier to serve and easier to clean up. Making dishes from scratch requires more dishes. While I’m doing the dishes, I ask the kids to get in their pajamas and brush their teeth, but when I get upstairs after doing dishes, they typically haven’t started doing what I ask them to do. I look at my smart phone to see what time it is ? it’s 8:30pm. We are starting our bedtime routine an hour later than I hope we would. “