Making dinner happen

Monday through Thursday,  we enact a carefully choreographed dance, working together to make and eat dinner, put The Dude to bed, and get ready to do it all again the next day.  Here’s how it goes (exact timing varies slightly):

5:00  Matthew takes the lead on dinner, starting prep as soon as he gets home from work. At a minimum, we discuss dinner plans during the day, but we’re trying to sit down on Sunday and sketch out a rough meal plan for the week.  Some sort of plan helps things run much more smoothly than the arrive home from work, hungry and tired, and stare in the fridge asking “What’s for dinner?” approach.

6:10  Gabriel and I arrive, and Matthew spends a few minutes with him (mostly involving a potty opportunity and a nice, thick diaper).  I change, hang up my clothes, use the bathroom, and grab a drink of water.

6:20  The Dude and I snuggle up on the couch, and he  eats his dinner/bedtime snack.  Meanwhile, Matthew continues working on dinner.

Assembling a new lasagna

6:40  Once Gabriel finishes eating, we head to the bedroom.  We sing his bedtime lullaby, and I lay him down for the night.  On good nights he goes down without a peep, on so-so nights, 5-10 minutes of crying, during which I agonize over all the things that I may have done wrong in the bedtime routine while anxiously awaiting the quiet.

6:45  I return to the kitchen and jump in where needed to get dinner on the table ASAP.  Most nights this happens between 7:00 and 7:30, but some nights we’re pushing 8:00, which would just be quaint and European, except we’re trying to go to bed by 9:30, which doesn’t leave much time to digest, not to mention taking care of the after dinner stuff.

7:15  Light candles, set table, and sit down to dinner.*  If we’re lucky, we’re not too tired to enjoy the delicious food in front of us.

7:50  Pack lunches for next day (usually leftovers from the previous night’s meal), complete some minimal kitchen cleanup (I’m trying to improve on this, but things tend to pile up until the weekend), and put away dinner leftovers.

This concludes the “dinner” portion of the night.  In the remaining time, we grab a few minutes relaxing on the couch with books, use our neti pots, and have a bit of dessert (if we’re hungry having just finished dinner).**  I like to have things all wrapped up, including brushing, flossing, and last call in the bathroom by 9:00 if possible, leaving a few more minutes to read in bed before lights out.

*The fact that Gabriel is not at the table with us for dinner really bugs me, because family meals are important for establishing good eating habits.  Unfortunately, given my current work schedule and his current bedtime (which may sound incredibly early, but really seems to work for him), our options are limited.
**Some nights we also engage in fun extracurricular activities during this time, like hanging the diapers 😉


  1. i still have that agonizing moment if Ada cries! And, we start the bedtime routine at 630 too. It does seem early, but she likes it and needs it! And, we need it too! From 7 until our bedtime (10ish) is when Chris and I can have time to ourselves.

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Yes, those hours after bedtime are great. It’s hard because it means we can’t really accept any dinner invitations these days (unless it’s an early-bird special-style dinner) unless we want to get a babysitter, but most of the time, we’re just as happy to hang out here and have some low-key time.

  2. Tracy says:

    I totally understand. I did the same, but with the added thing that Mr. B only wanted me during this time. So, most evenings I cuddled with him on the couch for his bedtime and he stayed with me there nursing and sleeping and cuddling until we went to bed and I put him down. We ate a lot of picnic meals. I would make a salad spinner full of salad every few days (the spinner is one that is solid and not vented in the out layers, so it stayed hydrated and crisp), rice or pasta salad with veges, fruit salad, bean salad etc and we would add homemade bread (made on weekends often) and cheese (not homemade) and various pickled items from farmer’s markets and my husband and his parents, and wah lah, you have a healthy meal. We would intersperse cooking of large meals like lasagna, stirfry, casserole, soups which served as a hot meal for dinner on occasion and leftovers for lunch. It gets much better and with a later bedtime we have many family dinners and breakfasts with our son now and if dinner prep goes late he “helps mama cook” which means standing on his step stool eating an extra snack and occasionally helping to wash things, sort things, dump things, stir things with guidance. 🙂

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