Monday, March 10, 2014

H2C: Delegate - or distract

Here's another tip for "How to Cook When it's Already Time to Eat!"

I won't lie - making supper seemed impossible when the boys were littler. They were less patient, so it had to be ready sooner, and there were constant interruptions: first diaper changes, dropped binkies, and nursing sessions and then temper tantrums and "final wipes." Now that no one is suction cupped to my leg (or boob), its a whole lot easier - not that I don't have my share of distractions, now in the form of out-of-hand fights. But now, the boys are pretty easy to distract. A few ideas:

- I let them sit down with a tiny snack when they get home. They're content and contained and I can get supper started uninterrupted. I've trained them to take care of their own snacks. We have snack-sized bowls (though they try to sneak larger containers all the time) and food within easy reach.
- If it's nice outside and they're old enough, shoo fly! We're fortunate to live in the country on a nearly traffic-free road. I can see the porch and most of the yard, including the trampoline from my kitchen windows. And Reed and Calvin are pretty good about keeping an eye on Squiggie.
- During the winter and on rainy days, the boys fly through their snack to get to their highly-awaited daily allotment of screen time. Their current obsession is Wii Mario. They scream like banshees and you'd think the couch was a butt trampoline, but remember our goal is contained and content, so it's all good.
- If Reed has homework, he's supposed to do it first thing. This isn't very often, but I figure that will change as they get older.

Distraction isn't my only trick. It's well documented on this site that I want our boys to be independent. My goal is for my future daughter-in-laws to thank me for raising such helpful, neat-freak husbands. Not sure if we'll get all they way there, but I'd settle for helpful. So, I put those turkeys to work. For several months now, they've started "kitchen duty" after the meal. They take care of almost all the clean up but the dishes and leftover storage. It frees me up to do a little cooking ahead for the next nights. Here are kitchen-related things the boys do at least some of the time:

- Set table and get out condiments.
- Pour their own milk if the jug isn't too full. 
- Dish up plates.
- Clear table.
- Wipe table and counters.
- Help me with dishes.
- Sweep and mop (the mopping is usually mostly fake - Max always wants to sweep and he sucks at it, so we give him the mop instead. Strips of my floor are super spotless. The rest? Not so much.) 
- Help cook the meal (This one isn't always very "helpful" so much as "a pain in my butt," but I'm banking on all the spilled flour paying off some day... )

I have a friend who started scheduling her middle school son to cook one night a week. She taught him some basic meals first and by the time he graduated, he had quite a repertoire for a bachelor living on his own. I am SO employing this idea! In a few years, that'll be THREE nights a week I won't have to cook! And, future daughters-in-law, you. are. welcome! Is eight too young to start this?

The other "boy" in my house pitches in, too. In fact, he's a way better cook than I am. He goes in spurts--cooking several nights in a row when we have fresh deer tenderloins. He grills about one night a week in the summer. And this winter, he's invented several awesome soups! He's really creative, and kind of enjoys it, but I don't think I'll ever get him to take over the duty every night. Schedules and the desire to keep our marriage intact don't allow that. I did get him to agree to being "penciled in" as chef one night a week.  It doesn't always work out that way, but it's still nice to have someone to share the load. 

Hmmm, if I play this right, I could get off pretty easy. Here's my "There's hope for the future" plan:

M - Reed's night
T - Calvin's night
W - Max's night
Th - Ryan's night
F - leftover night
Sa - eat out (or adopt another teenager with stellar cooking skills)
Su - It's the Sabbath. I can't cook. We'll figure out something...

For 7 more tips, follow the links at How to Cook When it's Already Time to Eat.

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