“Mom, what’s for dinner?” This question is terrifying to me, and I hear it EVERY SINGLE DAY! Some days I almost scream out loud!
For many years I was a stay-at-home mom and the house was cleaned, errands were ran, and I had all day to plan and prepare an evening meal for my family. Nowadays I work…a LOT. And honestly I never have time to think about dinner until I arrive home, about 6:00 p.m., and by this time my kids are starving. I mean starving, whining, and basically dying…so they think. In their little eyes the world is about to end at this time of day, everyday, because dinner has not been prepared. Please tell me my kids aren’t the only ones…are they?
During the years that I stayed home and had all that time to think, plan, and prepare meals, my family became VERY spoiled. Almost every night we were eating a “gourmet” meal! (Okay, okay…maybe not gourmet, but close enough!) I tried new things, I researched recipes, I literally slaved in the kitchen most days. Dinners were glorious, full of wonder and anticipation from the kids, and I enjoyed it!
Let me just give you an example of the dinners we use to eat when I stayed home with the kids:
- homemade lasagna, homemade bread, salad,
- marinated grilled steak, baked potato with all the fixin’s, salad, and cottage cheese
- homemade casserole, veggies
- fried chicken, fried okra, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, peas
- chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, veggies, homemade gravy
- grilled hamburgers with all the fixin’s, grilled veggies, fried potatoes
- meatloaf, potatoes, veggies
- homemade quesadillas, homemade guacamole, sautéed peppers & onions
Okay, now that’s just a few of things I would make. Of course we would eat out occasionally and yeah I would make Hamburger Helper from time to time. The point is that I worked hard to have a nice decent meal ready for my family, at a reasonable time, every single night. Oh, and we had deserts, not every night, but at least once or twice a week.
Fast forward a few years to now. I’m working 2 jobs and still trying to do all the same things that I use to…it just does NOT work! Between my two jobs we also have soccer practice and games, house cleaning, errands, grocery shopping, and who knows what else is going to come up from day to day! I just do not have time to cook like I use to! I have learned that crokpot meals are my best friend, and we eat them quite often, but let me tell you a story about what happened just the other day:
My husband and I arrived home from work, I hadn’t planned anything for dinner, and I didn’t even really have anything to throw together to make a meal. I needed to go grocery shopping. I was exhausted, the house was a mess, the kitchen wasn’t cleaned because my 14 year old had failed to do his chores, and I just didn’t want to do anything! I sat down on the couch and I wasn’t going to move. My 7 year old son came to me and spoke those dreaded words to me, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” And do you know what I told him? I said, “I don’t care what you eat. Tonight I am not fixing dinner. Fend for yourself, go make a sandwich or something.” The look on his little face was quite shocking. He couldn’t believe it, I wasn’t going to feed him. He starred at me in disbelief and said, “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” Why yes, I was very serious! I shewed him away and told him to go make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a ham sandwich, I didn’t care as long as he fed himself and I didn’t have to worry about a thing. He looked heartbroken, but he survived. I went through the same exact thing with my other two children and they all just couldn’t believe that I wasn’t going to fix them a huge dinner.
As I sat there listening to them complain about me not making dinner, and I could see the hurt in their face, (My kids know how to pull on my heart strings.) I started to feel guilty and I almost got up, almost went to the store, and I almost prepared a big dinner feast. But I didn’t. I sat right there on the couch and relaxed. I had finally taken my mothers advice. She once told me, years ago, that it was okay for us to eat a sandwich for dinner, or a bowl of soup, or even a bowl of cereal, and that I didn’t need to slave over the stove every single night and prepare a huge dinner…they would survive, and they did! (Why don’t we listen to our mothers sooner?)
Since that night, not so many months ago, I have done this many times. And do you know what? My kids, my husband, and myself have all survived! And do you want to know something else I love about sandwich or “fend for yourself” nights at the house? The clean up! There is hardly anything to clean up, very little dishes to be washed, it’s a breeze and makes life so much easier!
As moms we tend to want to do everything for our families. We want everything to be perfect, and we want to be able and give our loving families those gourmet meals every night of the week…but we don’t have to! I’m here to tell all moms everywhere that it’s ok to feed your kids a bowl of cereal, a package of Ramen Noodles, a bowl of soup, a sandwich, a hotdog, or leftovers for dinner. At the end of the night as long as you have fed your kiddos something edible, you have done your job as a mom. So stop being so hard on yourself. Stop slaving over that stove every night of the week, stop stressing out over what do fix for dinner, and remember that sometimes…PBJ’s ARE OK!