It’s almost a nightly question from my tribe. “Is it family dinner tonight?” There’s no doubt that my kids love it when we are all together, enjoying a home-cooked meal at night, but as a busy family, it’s not always possible.
This year has been a learning curve for us as a family of five (soon to be six). My eldest started school which means a change in hours, after-school activities and new friends to meet up with. My second son began his preschool life and with it an interest in AFL. My daughter is growing every day and loves exploring her world. Together we have discovered that she adores singing and baby gymnastics. Add to the week swimming lessons for all three, sports training, birthdays and play dates and it’s a pretty full calendar.
Our situation, although tiring, is not uncommon. All around Australia mums and dads are busy juggling kids commitments, family obligations, friends and oh yeah, work! You finally get to the end of the day only to be asked “what’s for dinner?” Oh yeah, that again.
Here are five obstacles that we face as parents every time we sit down at the dinner table (and how to overcome them!).
1. The chef is also the chauffeur.
The role of a parent is so multi-faceted that you simply can’t put it into one category. Where it becomes challenging is when that person needs to perform those duties all at once.
Wednesday nights, for us, are intense. After collecting the small people from school, we head straight to swimming lessons. There is a 15-minute window here to complete a successful pick-up, change of costume and arrive at the lesson on time. Generally this is the day my son decides to have an in-depth game of handball with his friends. Swimming lesson complete, we then venture to AFL training where I stand, freezing on the sidelines, entertaining my daughter while my sons chase a ball around and somehow defy logic by not becoming hypothermic in a singlet and shorts.
By the time it’s over, the night has fallen and tummies are hungry. If I’m to have any chance of getting the kids in bed at a reasonable time (and enjoying a glass of respectable red on the couch) I need dinner to be easy. For parents in a similar situation I’d highly suggest investing in a slow cooker (throw it in, turn it on, arrive home to super yummy smells and dinner done) or prepping meals during the day.