Febrile Seizures – Dangerous? Or Just Scary?

A few weeks ago Logan came down with a fever. He was fine at bedtime, but when I went to take him to the toilet a few hours later, he was burning up. That was the beginning of a very long night.

Logan woke a lot, calling for water, cuddles, blankets, etc. At one point it seemed he had been calling for a while but I was so tired I didn’t hear him. He wet his bed and I had to change him and the bed while he fussed about feeling cold. Just as he was settled, he yelled again and told me, “The castle is rising!” I should have realized then that his temperature was high, but my tired state had fogged my brain and I made him go back to sleep.

At 5:30 a.m. his yelling woke me out of a sound sleep. I dragged myself to his bed again and asked what he needed. It took a minute for me to realize that he was freaking out because he was having a febrile seizure. His body was shaking, his muscles were tense, and he was scared. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, so I was able to keep him calm by talking to him until the seizure stopped.

The commotion in the kids’ room had woken everyone except Scarlett by this time. Lila was asking what was going on and why Logan’s body was shaking like that. After what seemed like a few minutes, but probably wasn’t more than a minute, the seizure stopped. Glad and I got Logan cleaned up (he had wet himself, normal during a seizure) and back into bed. We gave him some paracetamol and put a cool cloth on his forehead to help bring the fever down.

Daddy lay down with Logan while I tried to get Lila to go back to sleep in my bed. Logan was delirious and kept talking nonsense. (Later in the day he told me his bed had been rising off the floor and he thought he had been dreaming while awake.) Once the medicine kicked in and he was cooler, I took his temperature and it was still 103F. I can’t imagine how high it was during the seizure!

This is the second or third time Logan has had a febrile seizure. Had I not read about them shortly before it happened the first time, it would have freaked me out.  Febrile seizures are generally not dangerous to a child’s health. They are usually caused by a rapid rise in the temperature of the fever. They occur in children between the ages of 6 months – 6 years, and are more common in boys than girls.  In most cases, a medical exam afterwards is not necessary, unless you notice that your child doesn’t seem like themselves after an hour or more, or the fever doesn’t go down after you’ve given them something for it, or if the seizure happens again during the same illness.

Some tips to remember if it happens to your child:

1. Breathe and stay calm- it is scary but not dangerous.

2. Make sure they can’t hurt themselves while their body jerks around. Don’t hold them, but stay close until it ends.

3. They may or may not lose consciousness during the seizure (Logan didn’t).

4. A seizure normally lasts between a few second and 5 minutes, but can go as long as 15 minutes.

5. The child may wet or throw up while it is happening. If they throw up, make sure they are lying on their side so they don’t gag on the vomit.

6. Once the seizure is over and your child is cleaned up and calm, you can give them whichever OTC fever-reducing medication you normally use. Make sure to follow the body weight dosage listed on the bottle and measure out carefully. A cool cloth on the forehead helps too.

This is only a rough listing of things to remember. I suggest you read more on febrile seizures so you can be well-informed and prepared should they ever happen to your child.

Medline Plus – Febrile Seizures

MayoClinic.com -this link has a lot of information on them, spread over several pages. Click the link at the bottom of each section to make sure you get all the pages.

Has your child ever had a febrile seizure? What was your experience?

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Who is Really Stressing You Out?

Motherhood and stress – I find those words together a lot. Mothers all over the internet complain about how their children stress them out.

“My children are fighting and the noise is stressing me out.”

“Driving my children anywhere is so stressful.”

“I can’t shop with my children. Their antics stress me out.”

“Anytime I go anywhere with my child I end up stressed.”

We know that children are high-maintenance, and I’d be lying if I said I never feel stressed. But the question is, is it really the children who are stressing you out? Or are you allowing yourself to be stressed?

Yes, I said allowing. We have the power to decide whether or not to allow a situation to stress us out. We can either let the challenges of parenting get to us, or we can learn how to overcome them.

I know it is easier said than done, but for a mother to maintain her sanity, learning to avoid stress is so important.

Here are a few things I do to keep stress at bay.

1. Exercise

We all know that exercise is a stress-buster, but most of us don’t do it, for whatever reason. We allow our own health to sit on the back burner while we tend to those around us. It might seem noble to put yourself last, but it isn’t good for you.

Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers there is. If you can’t get away from your kids for it, do it with them. Dance in the living room, run at the park, go for a walk. Any exercise is better than none at all! So make time in your schedule for exercise.

2. Breathe

When your children’s antics are getting you riled, stop and breathe. Just take a minute to compose yourself by taking a deep breath, closing your eyes, and letting it out slowly. Go ahead. Try it now and see how good it makes you feel. Look out the window at nature, or step outside for a minute and breathe, and tell yourself you can handle whatever is bothering you. I promise you will feel the stress melt away.

3. Take time for yourself

Do something for yourself every day. Nap when your child does, read a book or your favorite blog, take a shower (and don’t feel bad if it takes an extra cartoon or two). Put on some makeup or brush your hair. Get dressed. Do something that will help you feel more like a woman and not just a “mom”.

I like to get up early for exercise, then take a shower and have my coffee before the kids get up. Thankfully my kids love to sleep late so early for me is up by 6. If your child is an early riser (or has to get up for school), see when else you can fit in time for you.

4. Keep a schedule

This will help you fit in numbers 1 and 3. Time for yourself is imperative so scheduling it will make it happen.

5. Be mature

Remember, they are just children. They are still selfish and self-absorbed. Everything is about them. Don’t take personally anything they say or do.

 

Now it’s your turn. What do you do to keep stress out of your life? Tell us about it in the comments.

A Mom’s Mini Emergency Kit

When my kids were small, I had a variety of diaper bags – ranging from small, to medium, to large; colorful to plain; fancy to formal –  with everything I needed for outings with them. I struggled to carry a purse and diaper bag and eventually gave up on the purse altogether. Then I switched to carrying a large purse of some sort that was secretly a diaper bag with a small corner for myself, so that I could look a little more put together.

Having to lug around all the stuff that a baby or toddler requires was no fun. I often had marks on my shoulders from carrying a heavy bag that never got lighter. Sometimes I would remove something I felt wasn’t needed, only to need that exact item later that day (and it was never needed when I had it).

I was so happy that as my kids got older I could carry less stuff. No longer do I need to carry diapers, extra clothes, toys, bottles, blankets, etc. I can take all three of them anywhere with the clothes they are wearing, and perhaps a bottle of water, or something to occupy them with, depending on our destination.

The only permanent item I carry is a small emergency kit.

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I bought a small, transparent toiletry bag that measures 6 1/2″ long x 5″ wide x 3 1/2″ deep, and in it I keep several small items I always need when out with the kids. I chose to put them all in a small bag so that I can transfer it to whichever purse or shoulder bag I’m carrying that day. These are basic items that often end up in your purse anyway, but tend to get lost in the mess and can be hard to grab at a moments notice.

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Here is what I carry (from left to right):

  1. Tissues – always handy.
  2. Disinfectant hand wash – for those times when there is no water but they are hungry and need a snack “right now”.
  3. Antiseptic cream – for minor cuts and scrapes.
  4. Wet wipes – useful for everything from wiping dirty faces and hands to cleaning scrapes, or getting food off of clothes.
  5. Mosquito repellant – needed most of the year, though I usually have the spray instead of the cream.
  6. Bandaids – I use these a lot.
  7. Crocin tablets – for me. If I am able to curb a headache when out, things go much smoother.

There are plenty of other items I could carry, but these 7 are the must-haves that I can’t go without. Outings have been easier since I put this together.

Do you carry something like this? What would you add to it?

Having Trouble Getting Your Overtired Toddler to Bed? Try These Tips

Overtired kids make for worn out, nerve wracked mommies. I want to share some tips of what I have found that works for me when my little ones have been overtired yet didn’t want to go to bed.

Usually I keep them on a good sleep schedule, but it does happen from time to time that schedules get blown to the wind and naps get missed. The other day Scarlett woke up at 6 a.m. and came into our bed, but instead of going back to sleep like she normally does, she stayed awake. By 11 a.m. she was ready to sleep but I knew that if she went down at that hour, she’d be up even before the other two went for a nap.

I tried to keep her up but she cried even more and kept begging to be carried. By 11:30 I’d had enough but she was too worked up to just lie down and fall asleep on her own like she normally does, so I had to put her to sleep myself.

Here are the steps I used.

#1 Hard as it is to do when your child is screaming or whining (especially if it has been going on for a while), keep yourself calm. This is the first step to calming your child. If necessary, go to another room for a few minutes and just breathe. Tell yourself that you are in control of your own emotions and you will get through this.
I made sure to keep myself calm while she threw herself and tried to get away as I put her diaper on. (She is almost completely daytime potty trained but still wears a diaper for naps and nighttime.)

#2 Go to your child, and in a calm, soothing voice, tell her it is time for sleep. As I got her ready for nap, I made sure to keep my voice calm. I have in the past let myself get upset because my kid was upset and all that came of it was an extra-tired child screaming and an upset, frustrated mommy angrily forcing them to sleep. Not a good combination at all.

#3 Lie your child down in her bed and sit next to her (if using a toddler bed) or sit in a chair next to the crib. You will want to sit as this part may take some time. Scarlett sleeps in a toddler crib that is rather low to the floor so I just sat on the floor next to her. It has removable bars so she can get in and out on her own. Make sure the room is darkened as much as she is used to for sleep, and close the door if there is noise in other parts of the house.
Alternately you could lie your child in your bed with you lying next to her, if you think that would work better. While I prefer my kids to sleep in their own beds, getting to lie in mommy’s bed can have a rapidly soothing, almost magical effect.

See the bars? There were 3 but the plasic parts broke after being used by all my kids and at this time, I can’t put any of the bars in place, meaning Scarlett gets out of bed often at night. Excuse the walls. 🙂

#4 At this point, your child may already be calming down, but if she is struggling to get up, firmly place one hand on her bottom and hold her down. At the same time, gently pat or rub her back with your other hand. Though it may be hard over the screaming, try singing her favorite lullaby or shush her by chanting “shh, shh, shh” in a rhythmic pattern. This is what I do. I find it works better for getting Scarlett to stop crying than singing, but sing if that works for you.
The goal here is to take control of your child falling asleep and at the same time let her know you sympathise with her tiredness and want to comfort her. Keep your voice calm and make sure you don’t show any frustration with how long it is taking. Actually, the calmer you are, the faster she will calm down. Don’t ask me how it works; it just does.

#5 Once she stops screaming and lies still, you can take your hand off her bottom, but you will want to continue patting or rubbing her back. You can either stop the vocal soothing or keep going, depending on how your child best falls asleep.

#6 Stay there until you are sure she is asleep. You will know she is in a deep sleep because her breathing will become rhythmic and she won’t open her eyes or try to get up when you move.

#7 You can let out that sigh of relief now. Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself. You just got your overtired toddler to sleep without becoming a bundle of nerves yourself! Take a few minutes for yourself and enjoy the peace.

Of course you may have other children to tend to and you may feel the need to get back to them, especially if they were coming into the room while you were putting your toddler down. I had to send Logan and Lila out several times, using silent hand motions and facial expressions so as not to disturb the atmosphere while I was putting Scarlett down. Even though I could hear them fighting and hurting each other, they had to wait as I knew it would be easier to deal with them once Scarlett was down. Thankfully they were quiet when they came in, but if your older children barge in and disturb you, calmly tell them they will have to wait ’till the younger one is asleep. Lock the door if necessary. Or just make sure your older ones are busy with some engaging activity before you go to put the younger one down.

These tips may also work with older babies (over 8 months) and even with children older than toddler age. Logan rarely naps any more, but some days I notice he is cranky so I lie him down and sit next to him and he will sleep faster than if I leave him to fall asleep alone.

What works for you when your child is overtired? Share it with us.

"He’s a Bad Boy!"

That’s what my son told me when picked him up from school today. One of his classmates had pinched him and he was very upset. Logan is by no means innocent of pinching. No, he pinches just as hard and often as the next kid, but hates being on the receiving end. Of course!

What got me was how quckly he labled his classmate as a bad person. Remember we are talking about kindergardeners here. I asked Logan why he was saying that, and apparently he had heard his teacher call the other boy bad when he did stuff like hit and pinch.

So I took some time to explain to Logan the difference between doing something that is bad and actually being a bad person, and I began to recall something I had read years ago in regards to discipline – never lable your child or they will end up living up to it. Since it is such a habit for me, I wrongly assumed other adults were aware of it too, which is why Logan’s statement about his teacher surprised me so much.

We often forget that children, especially between the ages of 2 and 5, are just learning which actions are acceptable and which are not. Children lash out and hurt each other because they don’t know how else to react when a friend or classmate does something they don’t like. Hurting each other is like a built-in self-defense mechanisim.

Children will only learn other methods of working out problems from us, their parents and teachers, and it is imperative that we explain and demonstrate the behavior we want them to learn in a calm manner. Yelling at them to stop hitting is usually counterproductive. I know because I’ve tried it. Like any mother, I will get frustrated with their meanness to each other and I will yell and threaten, but I shouldn’t because I know better. When I do stop to talk to them and I handle it calmly, they are more likely to sort out their differences and get along better.

Here are some tips to remember when you are faced with hurtful behavior from your child.

– Never call your child bad. Do that often enough and your child will see themselves as bad and they will wonder why they should even try to be good.

– When your child does something that hurts someone else, first let them know that it is the action that is bad. Say, “Pinching the baby was a bad thing to do.” Never say, “You are a bad boy for pinching the baby.”

– Next, explain why what they are doing is bad, and why they shouldn’t do it. Ie. “Pinching is bad because it hurts and we shouldn’t hurt people.”

– A further step would be to show them how they should act instead. You could say, “We touch people gently” while taking their hand and showing them what a gentle touch is. Show your child how to gently pat or stroke the child they hurt on the arm or hand.

– After that, it is good to teach them to apologise. For a toddler who isn’t verbal yet, you can teach them an action that they can do when they hurt someone. Maybe they could pat the person or give a kiss. At first you will have to walk them through the action while saying “I’m sorry.” That way they connect the action with the words. A child who can talk can learn to say “I’m sorry” and maybe they could do something nice for the person they hurt.

This kind of training doesn’t belittle the child; instead it helps them see that they are capable of acting in a good way, plus it gives them a life skill that they will be able to use in the future. We all want our children to be good, but it is the way we say it that will encourage or discourage them.

Do you have a story or tips you would like to share along these lines? Please do so in the comments.

Keeping Sick Kids Happy – and Busy

This past week was a real doozy for us – all 5 of us got quite sick with some kind of flu or something. Thankfully though, my hubby got it first and then was well enough to care for the kids when I couldn’t move.

Caring for kids with fevers and getting them to rest is never easy, especially when they continue to be active. I think this is why it takes them so long to get well – they don’t want to rest. When the fever hit me I slept for almost 2 days straight, as did my husband, but the kids? When they had fevers (one at a time, no less) they would lie in my bed or on the couch and rest – for a while. Then as soon as the fever would go, they would be up and about, playing, coloring, etc. I just get tired thinking about it. And this is why Logan still is having fevers off and on, and why the girls are still coughing and why I’m still cleaning thick mucus from their noses.

As a child, I recall my mom sending us to bed when we had more than a cold, and making us stay. But it is hard to keep a kid in bed, no matter how sick they are. So here are a few things you may like to try the next time you have to keep your kid in bed but they aren’t so sick that they just want to be held. Note that none of these ideas are guarenteed to keep them down but they may buy you a few minutes of peace or a chance to use the toilet.

– Videos, movies, t.v.: a favorite show or movie will probably keep them down for a while. They can lie on the couch or in your bed. Use a laptop if you don’t keep a t.v. in the bedroom.

– Books: For kids who can’t read, many will be content to flip through picturebooks. If your child can read, then provied a new story that will interest them, or perhaps an old favorite.

– Coloring, drawing, dot-to-dot: Any of these kinds of activities are good. Provide a lapboard or a breakfast tray for them to use as support. And make sure the crayons/markers etc. are washable, just in case they end up on the sheets or p.j.’s.

A breakfast tray like this would be great for holding books and art supplies.

– Games: board or card games can be fun, especially if you have more than one child to occupy.

– Puzzles: use the tray for support.

– Play with dolls: dressing and undressing, fixing their hair.

– Surprising them with a small new toy, something you know they will love, may help keep them down awhile.

– If they are a little older and want to be up, an arts and crafts box at a table may keep them busy. They won’t be lying down but will still be resting.

So what are your favorite tricks for keeping sick kids happy?

Exercise

No matter how tired I am, I’m up at 6 every morning. I need time to myself before my kids get up. Free time is one thing most mothers don’t get much of, if any at all, so I have to make my own free time. Weekdays I work out between 6:15 and 7:00; weekends I can get an hour or more since I don’t have to wake the kids for school.

There is something to be said for early morning exercise. I find that it clears my mind, melting away any stress I may have had.  All that blood racing to my brain awakens creativity; I get some of my best writing ideas while jogging or jump-roping. When I am outside in nature, doing something good for my body, I feel free. I let the demands of the day ahead wait and I focus on me. That is my time.

Weekend mornings, when my hubby doesn’t go to the gym early, I get to go jogging at the nearby park and he wakes up with the kids. Well, it’s more them waking him up. 🙂 Ha. This morning at 6 it was raining so I slept some more, and when I got up at 7, the rain had stopped so I decided to go for my jog.

About 10 minutes into it, the rain came back. The park cleared out rapidly, but it takes more than rain to get me to leave so I kept going. I now had a clear path with no slow walkers in my way and I got a good 30 minute jog. It was so refreshing.

I aim to work out 5 or 6 mornings a week, simply because my days go better when I start with something good for my body. Exercise clears my mind, helps me relax, and of course, has helped me lose some weight that I desperately needed to get rid of. I have yet to reach my ideal weight but I’m not quitting yet.

Once I’ve had my workout, I sit with my coffee and work the daily crossword, sudoku, and a few other puzzles that come in the morning paper. That way, I’ve had both a physical and mental workout, all before my kids get up. I find I am a better mother when I get time to myself regularly.

How about you? What has exercise done for you?

Surviving the Non-eating Years

There comes a time in the life of every child that they decided to quit eating. Yes, you heard me right, quit eating. This is most common during the preschool years.

Logan has been going through this non-eating stage for almost a year now. It unforturnately coinsided with the day he started preschool, so at first I thought it was just a case of nerves. Sadly it wasn’t. He started turning down food right and left, and giving up what has once been favorites, like milk.

At first, I handled it like I think most mothers would – I tried to force him to eat. I tried threats, punishment, force-feeding, denying treats, but this only led to tears, tantrums and frustration for both him and me. It took time, but I soon realized that I was fighting a losing battle and that if I wanted things to change I would have to handle them differently.

The first thing I had to do was calm down and not freak out when he didn’t want to eat. My main concern  was that Logan was underweight to begin with (he had been sick) and I wanted him to regain what he had lost, so I had to come up with things that he would eat and find ways to add extra nutrition to them that he couldn’t see. It took some experimenting to find out what he would and wouldn’t eat. Thankfully, my kids generally like healthy food, so if, for example, I was preparing chickpeas in a sauce, I would keep some aside with no sauce for him since he would eat large amounts of them plain (and now all 3 of them prefer them plain, so the sauce is for hubby and I). Also, while Logan quit drinking milk, he still loved yoghurt, so the solution in that case was simply to switch the two. (Now he drinks a little milk every so often, but it is at his request. I also had to stop saying things like “You asked for it, now finish it” when he decided he only wanted a mouthful at a time.)

The second thing was that I had to think long-term. His eating habits have changed over this past year, often going from liking something to disliking it days later. Sometimes he picks up again, but mainly I ask him if he wants something or not, and I try to make sure there is always something he will eat. Many times he will also turn down favorites, or will be in the middle of a meal and just stop and not want to finish. Staying calm has helped me to be able to say, “Ok, leave it” instead of forcing him to keep eating. Sometimes he will return to eat it later, or Lila will finish it off for him.

Another thing I found was that he didn’t like eating right away in the morning. Up until he started school, I had never served breakfast as soon as he woke up. He would usually just have a cup of milk and we would eat maybe an hour later. So when he started school and had to get up earlier and eat sooner, it upset what he was used to and he freaked. It took time before he was able to eat soon after waking up. Some mornings
he didn’t eat at all, so instead I would pack him a larger snack and he usually ate that as he was super hungry
by then.

Now, one year later, he is still picky about what he eats. He is up and down about foods, but at least he has learned to say “I don’t want any more” instead of screaming when I ask him to finish. Lila is not quite 3 but is already getting pickier, though I don’t think I will have quite as much trouble with her. She is a taurus and they are known to be quite the food lovers. And Scarlett? At 16 months she will say no to foods – a lot. But then she also eats a lot and is still breastfeeding so I’m not worried about her.

So now I want to offer you the mother’s guide to surviving the non-eating years with food in your child’s tummy and your sanity intact.

1. Stay calm. Relax your stance on how much you think your child should be eating, and instead see how much they eat over a weeks time. Generally it will be fairly balanced.

2. Don’t force your child to eat. Avoid food battles at all cost. Continue to serve meals as usual and don’t make a scene if your child only wants to eat one or two bites. Children will eat when hungry, so don’t sweat it if they skip meals or snacks. They will make it up when they are ready.

3. Don’t give in on treats. If your child is like most, they probably love sweet treats, chocolate, etc. but don’t opt to only let them eat sweets or junk food just to get food into them because then you will be getting into a habit that is hard to break. Save treats for appropriate times and instead make heathy food readily available.

4. Do find out what your child will still eat. This will require that you keep your eyes and ears open at first, but after a while you will have it down. Be aware that likes and dislikes will change frequently at this age.

5. Make food rules. You may need to put some rules in place if you find your child won’t eat at mealtimes but always wants snacks at odd times. A child this age probably needs to eat 5 to 6 times a day (3 meals and 3 snacks), so make a simple poster with the timings and pictures to post on your fridge to use to teach your child about the concept of set times. You could put a clock with the arms on the time when you will serve food, then make a game of showing your child when it shows that time on your wall clock. Then serve your meals and snacks accordingly. Children at this age have no concept of time; it has to be taught.

Logan would come for snacks, and since he has always been on the skinny side, I let him have food when he wanted since I didn’t want him to lose more weight. Eventually though, I got him back on the meals-and-snacks-at-set-times routine. It is also not good to eat randomly as food needs time to digest. I always explained to Logan that if he ate so soon after last eating he might get an upset tummy and that was enough to get him to wait. It could have also had something to do with his fear of throwing up and wanting to avoid it.

6. Expect that your child will stop eating. Even if they were great eaters as toddlers and ate anything at all, expect that this will change. Expect them to give up something they loved a week ago. Expect anything, and you will be prepared for it.

7. Don’t make two meals at dinner. Dinner seems to be the time when it is hardest to get a child to join you and eat what you are serving, since at breakfast and lunch it is easier to just offer cereal or a sandwich. You don’t want to wear yourself out by making two separate meals. Instead, make sure that there is something you know your child will eat on your menu and still offer the other foods, even if you are sure they won’t like them. I always put some veggies on the kids plates and sometimes they do get eaten.

8. The most important rule: Relax. It is so important that I am repeating it. Relax. Keep yourself calm and you won’t feel so stressed out. After all, a mommy has to eat too and it is hard to eat if you are upset.

I Recommend … Chyawanprash

For quite some time, Logan was constantly getting colds, coughs, etc. He got pickier as he got older, and of course, he got sick more often. I was desperate for a solution. Then my sister-in-law told me that her son had the same problem for a long time and the solution she found was to give him chyawanprash daily.

Chyawanprash is an herbal mixture that is common here in India. It consists of a long list of spices and herbs, with the main ingredient being the amla (gooseberry) which is high in vitamin C. (The link above lists many of the ingredients.) It is often recommended for its health benefits. At first glance it may not look so appetizing, and the taste may take getting used to, but after almost a year of use, I can say that it works.
I give it to my children daily along with their multivitamins. At first I wasn’t sure if they would eat it, so I told them it was vitamin honey, and I made sure to give them just a small amount to taste. Well, they liked it right away and now ask for it daily. Even Scarlett has started eating it and she enjoys it. I give her about a 1/4 of a dessert spoonfull and the older ones have a full dessert spoonfull. I’ve even started taking it myself and find that I am not getting run down as often as I was before. The fact that it was recently released with orange and mango flavor added has inspired me to try it, since I didn’t like the taste so much before. The kids love it more with the flavor as well.
This is primarily an Indian remedy, but it is possible that it is available in other places. If you find it where you live, you may like to try it.

Taming the Crazy Hour

We have all been there, most of us on a daily basis – the crazy hour before dinner. Kids are tired and hungry. Fights errupt. Tears flow. You may or may not already be thinking about grabbing a drink and hiding out until the kids fall asleep.

I’ve done cooking like this many times.
For me, this has always been the most stressful part of my day. Usually we would get home from the park or shopping just in time for the baby to start crying, demanding to nurse. The older ones would fuss and fight over whose turn it was to pick the video, then beg for juice and snacks. I would be at wits end, often not even knowing what I was going to prepare. By the time the baby finished nursing, dinner would be late, adding to the stress of the evening.

I tried planning meals ahead, and while it helped somewhat, it wasn’t enough. The time I had to spend chopping, boiling, etc. dragged out each night, and I would add a little more vodka to my juice to keep from going insane.

Then recently I got this grand idea – why not do prep for dinner at a more peaceful time of day? So I tried it. For me the best time is before the kids get up from their nap, or while they have a snack. They like to drag out snacktime, so I found I could get a good portion of dinner done at that time. Of course, I still need a menu plan to work from, so if, for example, I want to use meat for dinner, I take it out to thaw in the morning. Or if I am making chickpeas or beans, I soak them in the morning.

When prep time arrives I will put the beans or meat in the pressure cooker, or I’ll marinate or precook the meat, all depending on the dish. While that is going I chop the veggies, or make a salad. Sometimes I can get almost the whole dinner done at that time.

I look more like this now. 🙂
When we get in from the park, I get the kids washed, pottied, and in front of a video (perhaps with a snack for the baby if she is extra fussy) and I get on to finishing dinner. It is working great right now, cause I no longer feel the need to rush and get the food on the stove. Many times I just have to cook the rice or pasta, or fry something, otherwise, I just reheat what I made earlier. Because of this, I found that I was able to move dinner up by 1/2 an hour and give us a little more time before bed – meaning there is time for a little extra play, storytime is more often, and there is less rush to get tired kids into bed.
So if dinner prep hour is your most stressful hour, see if it would work for you to move it to a time that is calmer. It has helped me more than you can imagine.
Have you already come up with a solution to make that hour more peaceful? Please share what works for you.
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