Tip and Tricks for the "Before Dinner Frenzy"!Feb 11, 2021
No matter what your day looks like, before dinner is always known as a total frenzy in any household. The time when you are exhausted from being on your game all day, when you still need to figure out what's for dinner, and when you're starting to count every minute until the "golden hour" (bedtime!).
What if we knew that chaotic feeling was coming before our patience ran out?
What if we planned for that hour so well that we actually found 30 minutes of peace to make dinner and calm the frenzy?
I am here to tell you that it is possible! The key to making any routine work for your family is consistency. Putting clear boundaries around how you want that time of day to look will help everyone create that consistency and avoid the unwanted battles.
Here are a few quick tips and tricks to start calming the frenzy.
1. Meal Plan.
I know, so simple. Taking the dreaded "What is for dinner?" question out of the equation can already work to improve your mood. Making a weekly menu means there is no arguing or negotiating, it's Tuesday and it's Tacos tonight! It also helps to set up a four week + rotation of your menus to minimize the work before your big grocery visit.
Click below to download my FREE Menu Template.
2. Fill up your child/ren's bucket!
Spending an uninterrupted 10+ minutes truly engaged with your child/ren before you make dinner will allow them to feel connected, making it less likely for them to use that wonderful connection seeking behaviour that creates the frenzy in the first place. For us parents that have been with our children all day sometimes it can feel like "we have been with them all day, haven't they had enough attention?". The truth is, how much of that time are we completely focused on them and not on another chore or device in our day. Children are VERY aware of where our focus is and can sense when it is not on them.
Make sure that before, during, and after this connected time, you are reminding your child/ren of the boundary following these 10 + minutes.
Try saying this.... "Mommy/Daddy is going to play (child/ren's choice) with you until the timer goes off. When the timer goes off you will (boundary) while Mommy/Daddy makes dinner."
3. Set the boundary.
This is your time to shine! Knowing your child/ren's development/interests, choose 3 simple play materials that can be used independently or together, and where those play materials will be used (Dining table, kitchen floor, living room). Think simple set up and easy clean up here! Depending on your child/ren's age this will look different for each family.
A 1 year old: Set up a play pen with simple play materials beside where you are cooking.
A 2 year old: Play dough, books, or puzzles on the kitchen floor beside you.
A 3+ year old: Playdough, building materials, books on the dining room table.
Once the materials are chosen the expectation is set that this is where we are playing until the timer goes off (set microwave or phone).
Try saying this.... "It is time for me to make dinner, you can play with A, B, or C at the dining room table. When the timer goes off it will be time for (whatever comes next in your home)".
Continue to use this phrase calmly and firmly each time your child/ren protest or attempt to negotiate.
4. Get the music going!
Playing music quietly while children are engaged has this magical calming effect. I am not talking about your children's wild dance parties here, just quiet music of your choosing.
5. STAY CONSISTENT!
If your goal is to avoid the Before Dinner Frenzy and create a time of peace going into the rest of your night routine, you must stay consistent. Children are looking to us for security and if our choices waiver upon protest the boundary will not hold!
I help committed parents of children age 1 to 10 move from questioning their parenting to being the confident parent they are meant to be. I do this through 1:1 coaching sessions and a G.R.E.A.T. Parenting Membership.
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You got this!