After Bee was born, I was surprised by just how easy life was. For the better part of my pregnancy, everyone I knew had some kind of birth or parenting horror story to share. People claimed I’d lose it and freak out on my husband during labor. People told me changing the first few diapers would be a horrible experience. People said I should ask someone to help me for the first couple days we were back home. People swore making dinner would be a nearly impossible task now.
Almost everything people told me was a load of garbage.
Did I lose my cool during the 30 hours of labor and tell my husband I hated him because this was all his fault? No.
Was changing diapers really that bad? Huh uh.
Did I need help after returning home from the hospital following my c-section? Only when it came to driving because of the pain killer I was taking.
Were dinners impossible to make? Not even close.
Sure, life was a little more complicated, but I think life with an infant was about 20 times easier than life with a toddler!
Now Bee is mobile. She walks, she talks, she gets mad over the most random things.
One thing she used to hate was when it came time for me to make dinner. Bee’s bedtime is 6pm, so we have dinner at 5. That means I start making dinner around 4. When I’d walk into the kitchen at 4pm, Bee was immediately mad. How dare her mother stop playing with her and instead go into the kitchen to make her dinner?!
It was driving me crazy. Even if Hubby was home from work and tried to entertain Bee, she wouldn’t have it. She just wanted to hang out with me. That meant crying for attention, pulling on my clothes, and constantly being right under foot.
It was less than ideal. An unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
I knew that something had to be done. I couldn’t go on like this. I’ve always enjoyed making dinner, but it was getting to the point that I was beginning to dread it! I wasn’t about to plop her in front of a screen, either, even though I know a lot of moms who swear that works.
Over the next couple weeks I tried multiple things to make the dinner making experience better. Some tactics worked well, while most of the things I tried failed.
Today I’d like to share with you, my fellow mom, the 5 things I now do in order to make making dinner pleasant again!
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Meal planning & mass prep
I know we’ve all heard about this. Some people love the idea, others don’t. No matter what your stance on the topic, you’ve got to admit that prepping your meals for the week (or even the month!) would simplify the process of making dinner. That means there’s less time for your kid to go into crazy “I JUST WANT MOM!” mode. I recommend considering planning your meals ahead of time and prepping the food you need in advance while your little one is down for a nap.
Give up a drawer or cabinet (or both!)
I’ve been blessed with a kitchen that has 19 drawers and 13 cabinets. I’ve given up one of each to Bee. I miss them, but it’s for a good cause! I just make sure that there are rules: THIS is your cabinet. THIS is your drawer. The rest are off limits.
Kitchen only toys
It might seem odd, but my daughter has room specific toys. Toys that stay in the living room, toys that stay in her bedroom, toys that don’t leave the kitchen. This makes spending time in those rooms more exciting. There are different toys to play with that she hasn’t seen since the last time she visited that room. She likes to keep her kitchen toys in her kitchen drawer, which is great. The drawer makes for a nice “toy box”.
Bee & I both love these wooden animal magnets. She really enjoys pointing at them and asking me their names. She also has random teething toys & other small, inexpensive toys. Plus a spatula or two that I’ve given to her as “toys”.
Special kitchen snacks
This one probably sounds a bit like bribery, but I’m not picky about how I get my wins! My daughter has certain snacks that she only gets to eat when we’re in the kitchen together. Apparently being put on the back burner (figuratively!) while Mom is making dinner is more tolerable with a yummy snack in hand! I also try to mix it up and buy different snacks from time to time so that her options stay fun and exciting.
Let them help you
My daughter is just over a year old and I’m already letting her help out in the kitchen. There’s really nothing she loves more & nothing that keeps her happier than sitting on the counter and helping Mom make dinner. Right now “helping” consists of holding measuring cups, measuring spoons or spatulas and handing them to me when I ask for them. Just make sure the task is age appropriate and your child will love it, too!
Those are the 5 things that have helped turn cooking into a more pleasant experience in my home. Do you plan to implement any of these in your house? Or do you already have some awesome tactics that work well for your family?