5.55pm is the most stressful time of the day for modern mothers, according to a piece in the Telegraph.
That is the point when millions of mothers are usually rushing around trying to cook dinner in time to ferry the kids to their after-school clubs. Bath time – or 7.15pm – was the second most stressful point in a mum’s day, with the kids’ bedtime at 8.45pm coming third.
That three hours is a mine field. Sometimes when all’s going well, it’s heaven on earth and I feel like I can do anything. When all goes awry, I just want to tear ALL of my hair out.
In my household, tea time preparation begin at 4.30pm or 5pm if there’s been after-school club activity. Tea normally takes about 45 mins to cook. Or it all depends on what’s on the menu which ranges from boiled egg (when I am truly rushed for time and the kids are all over me chewing my arm off from hunger) to red lentil curry.
Let’s say I take the average 45 mins. In that time, the younger would get increasingly fractious and the older would moan about how he’s about to die of hunger. Mum (me) would respond by stirring the pot harder and louder. Lesson to oneself: this does not cook the tea any faster. My blood pressure is going up, and normally shoots through the roof around bedtime.
So I’ve decided, in the hope of having a smoother 3 hours, 45 mins is too long for tea preparation and I’m going to have to better the time. No, prepping tea is not a 100m dash, but I think time’s better spent larking around with the kids than sweating over the stove. The challenge is to still dish up hot delicious nutritious food but in a shorter time.
This week, I tried a few things:
1) Cooking more on one day (say Monday), and turn the leftovers into another dish the next day. Or use leftovers from our dinner.
2) Make healthy snacks (like breadsticks and dip) which the kids can have on the way home from school.
3) Give younger her bath while tea’s cooking. By the time she’s done, her tea would have cooled to her preferred temperature.
4) Give kids a malt drink like Ovaltine before they go to bed. It’s meant to help them sleep.
5) Keep to the same routine everyday so the kids know what to expect. Surprises can turn bedtimes into war zones.
And just when I think I’ve cracked it, the kids will throw me a curve ball.