Recipe for Stress Reduction

dinner time

It’s 8:48 am.  Time to make dinner.  Yes.  DINNER.

10 years ago I would look forward to evenings.  I would ponder, on my way home from work, what I was in the mood for.  I would stop by the store–any store I wanted–to pick up a random ingredient or 6 so I could creatively prepare a delicious and appreciated meal for Mike and me.

Uh… it’s not like that any more.  Enter baby # one.  I remember trying to soothe a fussy baby at 5:30 while I scrounged around my fridge looking for something resembled anything we might want to eat, like, for dinner.

It took me a while to eventually consider not waiting till this time of day–the worst time of day for every baby on the planet–to begin making dinner.   It took me till baby number 2 (which wasn’t long after the first) to be strong armed into cooking dinner at 5:30 in the morning.  Yup.  I did that more than once.

My darling Josie used to start the day with a big LOUD bang way early–with no intention of going back down.  Sharing a room with her sleeping toddler sister meant I would do my best to quietly entertain her in the living room.  Enough time passed that exhaustion had set in (you know, more than it already had) and I realized I had to rethink my daily routine.  Hmmm… I thought.  Maybe if I actually made productive use of my morning time, when the baby is happy and I’m up anyway I could relax later in the day.

And just like that, “making dinner before dawn” had begun.  Mike would sometimes come shuffling down the hall scratching his head in search of orange juice to the wafting scent of pork chops in the oven.

And also just like that, guess what: when the kids napped in the afternoon so did I.  And then, when the kids were fussy in the afternoon–like all those little darlings are–I could give them my full attention because dinner was already made.  Pop it in the oven for a quick reheat  and now let’s go look at ants on the sidewalk or play put the blocks back in the basket and then dump them out again, and again, and again.  Whatever.  Hey!  Let’s  even go to the park and enjoy the entire place to ourselves because all the other mommies are at home tearing their hair out over what the heck they should make for dinner. (sorry if that’s you- I’m laughing with you, not at you.)

I’m a morning person.  I’m fresher before noon, more creative, more everything.  Babies are this way too, often.  Sometimes my 9 month old might actually bounce up and down in her spinny-seat thing for, 20 whole minutes while I chop and stir.  20 MINUTES IN A ROW I’M SAYING!

Eventually my pre-dawn cooking schedule was mercifully morphed into a “morning routine” which, the other day, began at 8:48 am.

My third baby is now 6, so my kids aren’t pulling on my apron strings crying “hold me!” at dinner time, but with dinner out of the way I can still give them my attention–which, it turns out, they still need just in other ways–late in the day.

Plus, who are we kidding?  “What’s for dinner?” is the burning question on every mother’s mind whether we are home with our kids our out earning a wage.  What a stress reducer to eliminate that concern before the day gets going.  Now I know that no matter what last minute disaster is lurking around the corner, at least dinner is “off my plate” (sorry–couldn’t resist.)

Today it’s breaking triple digits in Pasadena.  Yikes.  This is just one more reason for me to get dinner done so I don’t have to sweat it out over my stove top late in the day.

Maybe you’re a night owl like my girl friend Lisa.  Maybe after the kids are asleep is when you start revvin’ up.  Perhaps this might be a time to make tomorrow’s dinner… just a thought.

All I know is that the only mothers who actually enjoyed making dinner at dinner time were totally faking it on TV like June Cleaver.  Heck, even fake ‘ol Carol Brady had Alice to do her bidding!

So, my recipe for stress reduction is: consider reconsidering your meal prep time if it’s not working for you.  Waiting till the bewitching hour is rarely the ideal hour to create a dinner stress free.  Hope this tip helps make some mama smile tonight!


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