I felt hungry and unsupported. He felt hungry and irritated. This rang alarm bells in my head. A happy mum and dad are important. After airing our issues, my husband and I realised our frustration had built up following hubby’s return to work three weeks earlier. He’d taken 5 months off after he was injured at work and our third child had entered our lives during that time. Up until his return to work, my husband had been my personal chef – spoilt but, oh, so grateful! Now that wonderful chapter had ended and we needed to adjust.
After long days with the kids or at work, we both wound up tired, hungry and cranky. The kids were often emotional. I decided to prepare meals early and get dinner on the table between 5 and 5:30. He decided to spend more time with the kids. A week later, we were more bubbly and the kids felt less demanding. Two weeks later I had a routine and it was beginning to feel easy. Even though I had been unwell with a virus throughout the week, I noticed my family seemed happier, cooperative and more energised. In one month, it was a way of life and I felt like I had things under control. However, I try not to get too comfortable because it’s inevitable that things will come up (sick children, car troubles, change of plans last minute) that throw the family routine into a spin.
Here are ten tips to help you remedy those ‘hangry’ outbursts in the home and help bring more calm to your day.
- Prepare lunch the night before. I guarantee this one habit will make the greatest difference to the morning rush. Gosh, you may even be able to look at your incredible self in the mirror for 5 minutes before you hit the school run (Do I have spinach in my teeth? Oooooh Hello lipstick/eyebrows/ earrings!).
- Young children often have trouble following multi-step instructions. If this is the case for your children, put their lunch in their bag rather than demand they do it themselves. Not only will this mean fewer arguments over it, but you will have a smoother transition out the door. They should be able to do it themselves when their cognitive and fine motor skills are more developed, between 7 and 8 years old. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule so don’t stop if they are already doing this well!
- Young children can be encouraged to help pack their food in their lunchbox. While you prepare the food, get them involved by telling you what they would like. For example, ask “Who wants carrots? Celery? Cucumber?” That way there is less likely to be waste and you won’t feel irritated when it comes home again.
- Prepare dinner during the day (if you are at home), or on your day off. Sometimes this can feel like it’s taking up your spare time, but once you get into the habit you’ll realise how much easier nights become when you have everything ready to go.
- I use a thermo-server to keep dinner warm for a few hours after it has been cooked. That way I don’t have to heat it at dinner time and can serve it straight from the dish. It also means I can cook it without being interrupted while my older children are at school. You can contact a Theromix consultant to order a Thermo-server.
- Some days I have breakfast stored in the fridge ready to be cooked or heated. Having dietary requirements often means I need to make meals from scratch and busy school mornings don’t leave much time for this. I make a batch of gluten-free/dairy-free pancakes that I can quickly reheat in the morning. I also keep grated sweet potato in the fridge ready to make hash browns with salmon for breakfast (I find the best sweet potato to use for this is the purple or white one. These varieties aren’t watery when grated and binds well in the pan when cooked in ghee).
- Have a cleaner for a few hours a week to help with other domestic tasks. When you put time into preparing food for a healthier, happier you, you need to consider how other domestic tasks will get done without taking your energy and leisure time (“What leisure time?” I hear you ask!)
- Touch base with your family about how mealtimes are going. Get their feedback. This will not only help with efficiency and refine your craft but importantly have your loved ones take notice of your work. Hopefully, you will get a few compliments that may otherwise go unsaid!
- Don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go to plan or you’re too exhausted. Enjoy a cheat meal (ham and cheese toastie anyone?) or quality take-away if you can (note I said quality). Make it a rule that you treat yourself to the easy way out when time and energy wanes.
- If there is a regular issue that affects meal times, reflect on what changes need to be made. What can you let go of or avoid? What can your significant other or children take on? Can other tasks or events be rescheduled? Would grocery shopping online free up your time?
Do you have any meal preparation tips? Please share in the comments below. I’d be keen to try them!