Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Avoiding A Harried 5 O'Clock

Hubby's almost home. The baby is hungry. Dinner is boiling over on the stove (or maybe it hasn't even been started). The living room is strewn with toys and the dining room table is cluttered. And you're exhausted. And you just hung up with the third telemarketer in just as many minutes.

Ok, so maybe it's not quite so dramatic at your house around five or six pm. However, I have definitely found myself frazzled in my efforts to wrap up the afternoon and get dinner on the table. How about you?

Here are a few measures that I try to implement in order to Avoid a harried 5 o'clock:
  • Have a plan for dinner. I talk about this a lot, because it just helps. A plan means that I already have the ingredients on hand for the evening meal. I don't have to figure out what I'm going to cook in-between a fussy baby and the telemarketer calls. If you draw a blank when you sit down to make a menu plan, check out this post on menu planning for your blank-minded moments.
  • Start your dinner prep early in the day (sometime in the morning works best for me).
  • Take some time in the afternoon to catch your breath. Institute a quiet time (or capitalize on your child's naptime). Read a book. Catch a cat nap. This makes a difference for me...if I'm rested, my rope is much longer in the evening.
  • Have a before-Daddy-gets-home-clean-up-time. A quick pick up of the living areas or change out of a stained shirt can do wonders.
Does dinnertime go smoothly in your home? What does it look like for you?

Sometimes nothing goes as "planned" (as helpful as plans can be), and we just eat a thrown together dinner in a messy house...and that's ok too.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday

Tomorrow is Try New Adventures Thursday--I would love it if you joined in!


  1. The quick "daddy clean up" is a staple at our house! Although, I admit recently I've been torn. Some days I want him to walk into a mess so he'll know what the last hour of my life has been like;) Is that mean?!?

  2. Were you spying on me today?! ;) I tell hubby there is a switch I call the 5 o'clock meltdown. Things could be great all day long and 5 hit and everything goes spiraling out of control. The biggest thing for me is not letting my youngest get too hungry before I start dinner (or she's a bear). So I give her snacks while I cook to tide her over.

  3. I do the quick clean up. I know my hubby really appreciates it because he is a neat freak. Its amazing what a difference just putting away a few toys and clearing off the table can make!!
    Not quite as good about meal planning. I have tried, I don't come up blank but I nearly ALWAYS forget to take the frozen meat out of the freezer in time, or Jon works late and I end up waiting just a little longer (he calls once he is on his way home), then just a little longer, to make it until I finally give in and give the kids a sandwich! I need to get better needless to say!

  4. Dinner time at our house has been really horrible lately. I just can't manage to get my act together and put together a menu plan. I'll plan a few days, and then run out of plan. I used to plan a month at a time, so I don't know what my problem is now.

  5. I usually do my dinner prep at the same time as putting lunch together ( I have a monthly menu plan to guide me).

    The tidying up before Dad gets home has gone out of the window during the school holidays because we're usually so busy with other activities, but I'll definitely need to start getting that back in place.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  6. I feel like the way this time of the day plays out has changed a lot over the last few months as my daughter (now 10 months) has gotten older...with that has come an increasing earlier bedtime. We're now at 6:30pm, YEAH!!

    Also, since we live in Spain, my husband gets home from work after my daughter's in bed...which sometimes makes me sad b/c I'd like him to be able to see her but it also allows me to make dinner after she's asleep.

    So, for now, this time of the day isn't that crazy for me, but I still have a menu plan and try to do some meal prep earlier in the day to aid in that going quicker. I also get all the bedtime stuff picked up before my husband gets home, but I think that's more for me than it is for him! :)

  7. Ah, the crockpot saves my life here at least twice a week.

  8. i'm really trying to work on this. i'm terrible at meal planning. so we usually eat out way too much. I'd like to try to put a recipe binder together to try to help me out.

  9. @Mandi--you crack me up!

    @LovedLikeTheChurch: I like your name for it--the 5 o'clock meltdown. I've tried to explain it to my hubby, too. "Seriously hun, the whole day has not been like this...just the last 30 min!" Haha.

    @Crystal: I have a hard time remembered to take meat out of the freezer, too. Thankfully ground beef thaws very quickly and I have several crock pot recipes that I can use frozen meat in. Also, sometimes I just switch up the night of the week I plan to have a certain meal...if I forgot to thaw something, I'll make another meal on my menu plan that doesn't require frozen meat, etc. If all else is failing, I resort to writing myself notes. The post-baby brain is quite a phenomena (for me at least)...

    @Angie: I think there are phases in life where it's just more difficult!

    @Anne: 6:30!? WOW! What time does she wake up in the morning? Squishy goes to sleep around 8 and wakes up between 7-8 am.

  10. @Amy: I am in love with my crockpot. Lifesaver for sure.

    @Amanda: I have a recipe binder and it definitely helps me "remember" that I can cook certain things (instead of sitting and trying to come up with a menu plan from thin air).

  11. Mike helped me create an excel spreadsheet of meals I cook well. This has helped me recently when I'm trying to plan meals (just started in the past month and it's hit or miss).
    Your suggestions are great Alicia. I suggest getting your kids in a habit of cleaning up before daddy gets home. I tell Hannah (age 2.8) "Lets clean up the house so it will be nice when Daddy gets home!" and alot of times I'll put on a fun song to clean up to. It works well to give her specific task like "Put all of the books on the shelf" and we have a big bin that most of the toys go in, so that helps her to clean up too.
    Especially if I'm making something that requires prepping I will try to get things ready earlier in the day, like nap time. This helps a ton.
    On days that are busy, meat marinating in the fridge for Mike to grill (he likes to grill) and some veggies to steam quickly works great.
    I've had a harder time with meals the past couple of weeks d/t 1st trimester nausea. Nothing seems good. A list of meals really comes in handy right now.
    Alicia you're so smart to be figuring this all out now. Some of these things I've just started two kids and some crazy evenings down the road. ;)


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