I'm writing this post to get it out, because I'm struggling with something. All I want to do each evening is to prepare a healthy, nutritious evening meal that everyone will eat. But even setting aside the fact that all my children will eat for dinner is pasta, I find it so difficult and stressful to make the dinner with small children around.
I make dinner for 6pm so that we can all eat together when my husband comes home from work. Then we can put the children to bed straight after, and have a longer evening together. This means that all the food preparation and cooking has to be done while the children are around. I just can't work out how other people manage to make dinner with children around.
If Harry is at pre-school then Mia wants to be in the kitchen with me. She sees me taking out the cooking things and drags herself over a chair so that she can stand at the counter. If I try and involve her with the cooking she grabs everything and throws it about, or else she is on the floor, pulling at my leg and screaming. Of course if I'm stirring something hot on the hob then she needs to be kept well away. Anything that I give her to occupy herself with at the table, for example crayons or stickers, she becomes easily frustrated and screams when she can't do something. Because she has dropped her nap she's always pretty grumpy at this time anyway. I end up feeding her snacks to keep her occupied, meaning that she's not hungry when dinner finally makes it to the table.
If Harry is around too then it is slightly easier. I put the television on in the living room and they play together in there while I'm in the kitchen. Except that I can't see the living room from the kitchen, so I am constantly going back to stick my head around the door to check on them. This is necessary, because entertaining themselves involves activities like using the bin to climb on to the window sill to see out, or running along the back of the sofa. Even if they do happen to be sitting quietly watching television I'm still constantly on edge anticipating a meltdown when one of them sits on the other or they are both fighting over the same toy.
To be honest, it's mainly Mia that is the difficult one. Harry understands, and he will sit quietly in front of the television. I know that it's just a stage, and it won't be long before Mia is the same, and then I'll be able to concentrate. But it causes me so much frustration every day that I dread late afternoon!
Does anyone have any tips, or is it just another stage which I need to wait out?!