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Cooking meals with a toddler around - help!

Discussion in 'Toddlers' started by Riyasmommy, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. Riyasmommy

    Riyasmommy Silver IL'ite

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    I am in desperate need of help here, mommies. Just when I think I have my life under control, something pops up and surprises me. Riya used to take two naps a day, before and after lunch. Now it seems like she's getting ready to drop her afternoon naps (boo hoo). During the first nap, which lasts somewhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes, I tidy up the house, shower, clean up the kitchen, check emails etc. I used to cook dinner during her second nap, but now it's getting shorter and shorter or some days none. When Riya is awake she demands attention all the time. I try putting her in her high chair with a snack, but once the snack is gone she wants nothing to do with the high chair. She wants to be on the move all the time, and I don't blame her, but I am not getting the time to cook dinner at all. How do you guys manage?

    I know some of you stay at home moms and also those who work outside the house pre-plan your meals on weekends and prep up the veggies etc. on weekends. Can you guys share how you do it? I want to start doing that, but don't know how to start, plan or what to do. :hide: Please share some tips.

    Cooking is a great de-stresser for me. I love to cook and try out different recipes and would like to continue doing that. If only I could figure out how.

    Thanks
    Raj
     
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  2. happywoman

    happywoman Silver IL'ite

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    Try to swap your schedule...i mean finish your cooking while she's asleep and try to do the other things you mentioned while she's awake.
    Cleaning up the house can be done while the child is awake ( on the other hand, they keep scattering things,,,,thats an other issue!! ),Play some music during this time which will divert her attention.
    Peek-a-boo shower curtains come in handy during shower time. I used to buckle up my daughter in the stroller, give her some finger food and finish this task too !! (Yeah.....)
    Try this and hope it helps you!

    vani
     
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  3. tikka

    tikka Gold IL'ite

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    Raj, I dont know if this will work for you. What we did was change the way we cooked. Breakfast and lunch became the heavy meals for us. Dinner was one new dish (for Kiran and us) plus leftovers from morning and afternoon (for us).
    K dropping the nap kind of went along with his increased interest in solids. So that worked well for us. I cleaned the house before I went to sleep, except for the room where we slept, which we did first thing in the morning. Yes, the house did look a total mess by afternoons most days. It somehow felt good for me to go to bed in a clean house. Most people who visited our house were ofcourse parents and knew what toddlers can be like.
    Also, when they do drop one nap and once they are settled, it will become nap after lunch. The transitioning period is a mess - hope it settles soon for Riya.
     
  4. Riyasmommy

    Riyasmommy Silver IL'ite

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    Vani, I tried that too. Cleaning up becomes a bigger chore with Riya around. Nowadays I can't leave her without keeping a constant eye on her, she gets herself into troubles. And secondly, I never get to finish a job. I do one thing, leave that, check up on her and mostly she is doing something that she shouldn't be, or she brings a book to read, so we read that book and then there is one more book. At the end, I forget about the first job and I go to the next one and the the routine continues so at the end of the day, I find myself exhausted and guess what, I still have the same number of chores unfinished as there were when I started. Big Laugh
    She doesn't like to be strapped in a stroller (unless we are going for a walk), or high chair or even likes t9o stay in her playpen anymore!




    I cleaned the house before I went to sleep, except for the room where we slept, which we did first thing in the morning.

    Krithika, dinner is the one big meal for us that we eat as a family since hubby now even takes his b’fast to work nowadays. The reason why I stress on a good, warm meal at dinner time. And about your tip on cleaning the house before going to bed, that is the one time that hubby and I get to communicate our schedules, plans for the week etc. etc. And more importantly it’s also my ‘me’ time. I prefer not to do any chores after Riya goes to sleep. And I do need that time to unwind and relax and be ready and prepared for the next day.

    I am really hoping somebody would share some weekend meal planning tips with me. Here are some questions I have -

    1) How do you guys decide what you're going to cook that week? And how many meals do you plan on?

    2) Is it okay to keep cut veggies in the fridge for a couple days? What other prepping do you do?

    3) Do you always stick to your plans?

    4) How many times a week do you do grocery shopping?

    I think if I begin my week armed with a meal plan, Vani's suggestion may work for me. I will be able to cook dinner during the morning nap and may be able to tackle some important chores also.

    Thanks ladies. Keep those tips and suggestions coming please.

    Raj
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  5. Amitha

    Amitha Senior IL'ite

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    Here is what my co-sister does even today with two kids on hand - she gets up at 5, finishes using restroom, taking bath, preparing coffee, breakfast and lunch / dinner by 7. During that time her DH will be there at home, mostly sleeping till 6, then getting the kids using the restroom, helping them brush their teeth, giving them milk etc.,. After that my co-sister takes over. She sounds as if it is the most easiest thing on the earth.

    One of my friend used to put TV (mostly Dora) during the cooking time. That way kid used to be busy for 45 minutes to one hour during which time she would finish cooking. She was really super-fast in cooking.

    Another family (who didn't have kids though) would cut the commonly required veggies, like, onions, tomatoes, green peppers / chillies, coriander leaves, curry leaves, carrots, beans and put them in zip-lock covers and use it for the week. They never complained about cut veggies getting spoiled. They would do grocery / veggies shopping only once in a week. As soon as they bring they would clean the veggies in water and keep refrigerated.

    When Appu was 2+ I never planned what I would cook for the week. However I used to finish cutting veggies first, during his afternoon naps. After that cooking would become easy even if he was awake. I would play with him and come and do seasoning and cooking simultaneously. I used to cook only once during evenings. And breakfast used to be usually Idli / Dosai. Not too much of work during breakfast time - I could do it holding Appu. Idli / Dosai batter I used to grind during the weekends. Cleaning was / is never the first priority - except kitchen / bathroom cleaning which happens daily when somebody (DH / my mom / MIL) is there to watch kids. Otherwise usually our house is a mess. Evening chapatis / pooris I would prepare only when DH comes home and sits for dinner. We shopped groceries at Indian stores only once / twice in a month and shopped for veggies once a week / once in two weeks.
     
  6. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Raj,

    this has worked for me well and most of my friends think I am nuts and have said so.....Since the birth of my first one, I have made it a habit to wake up to get things done, usually 5. This gives me time to plan lunch/dinner and also get the house cleaned up. I also like to experiment and this has helped me to look up and cook from recipes atleast twice a week. Over the years when kids got managable, these early hours have translated to sometimes reading time, hobby time or exercise time depending on the weather. I cannot speak enough of the "me time" and the silence in the house that I enjoy and has helped me deal with the days and kids in a cheerful manner. I have been practising this for 5yrs now and have not regretted it yet!

    As for as the planning, I am more spontaneous, but have not hesitated to use frozen vegetables and us being from the south, the must haves have been a curry and rasam...along with whatever I want to try for that day!
     
  7. tikka

    tikka Gold IL'ite

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    Leftover does not equal non-nutritive food, you know. When I cook for K and me, I do end up cooking for four people. That way, dinner is also ready. Yes, I eat the same food two times a day, but I've never eaten cold food or junk food. Never had to take any kind of supplements till date, except for having to go dairy-free for K's allergies.
    K's naptime after lunch is when I get my workout in the yard and my me time... Whatever works for each of us, I guess. I can of course say what works in my situation, of course you will know what works for you. My day turned on its head, but I am cool with it.
     
  8. SupriyaDinesh

    SupriyaDinesh Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Raj,
    The following in my routine and thoughts on cooking and other chores which i have been following from DS was 5 months old till date.Wake up early ,get groomed and finish preparing lunch before yash wakes up.We buy grocery once a week.I usually stick to my menu.Some things i stock up - Kneaded dough enough for 2 days,chopped veggies and steamed(carrot,beetroot,beans),Boiled channa.so weekly 2-3 times i do all this.Boiling dal alternate days.Grinding dosa batter during weekends or early morning during weekdays.

    Just prioritize whats the need for the day- cant have the cake and eat it too.So tuesday and thursday- vacuuming and mopping day Monday,wedneday,saturday laundry day.
    Depending on the situation my priorities change- one day (if having guests) its only cooking day-not having a perfect house(just let go).If just a ordinary day then a simple cookign and other chores.
    During afternoon naps(if any) then i finish preparations for dinner.
     
  9. Pavarun

    Pavarun Silver IL'ite

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    Hi Raj, here's what I do - I am not the most organized person on earth so what works for me may not work for you.

    1) How do you guys decide what you're going to cook that week? And how many meals do you plan on?

    I don't do any prior planning (I know, not good, but we seem to be a family that loves the spontanity!) Mostly I decide on dinner on my drive back from work.

    2) Is it okay to keep cut veggies in the fridge for a couple days? What other prepping do you do?

    only prepping I do is to make sure I have cooked toor daal on hand always in the frig. With that, sambar or dal/rasam etc is a breeze. I use my Food Processor extensively though. You can use frozen veggies if they are more convenient. 3-4 years back when I was working and going to school, I used a lot of frozen veggies.

    3) Do you always stick to your plans?
    No - and my problem is that even if I plan something DH comes up with something completely different so I have given up on planning. (Like if I plan to make rice sambar and a veggie he will call and say can we make chapathi tonight :spin)

    4) How many times a week do you do grocery shopping?
    Only once a week (weekends)


    Regarding how to manage cooking with a toddler, here are some suggestions:

    1. Do you have any time in the morning before Riya wakes up to do your dinner prep since that is your biggest meal?

    2. When you are cooking, can you put Riya in her highchair close to the stove so she can watch? Or maybe she can play on the kitchen floor with pots and pans? - the floor will be a mess but you can get your cooking done.

    3. Sit her on the countertop while you are chopping veggies, mixing flour, kneading dough etc. It takes a bit to get used to this - but I used to sit P on our kitchen island holding him with one hand while doing these things when he was smaller. Warning - you will take a longer time to finish the tasks, but she can help with a plastic knife etc.

    4. Go easy on the housecleaning. I know it is easier said than done but the only way I am staying sane is by lowering my sensibilities around a clean house. Get a cleaning crew to come every 3 weeks or so (I love the day they come and in one day it is back to the previous state!)
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  10. Riyasmommy

    Riyasmommy Silver IL'ite

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    Supriya, Rama and Amitha - you guys are pounding on me what I have been wanting to do for a while, but just doesn't get to do it and that is waking up early enough in the morning. I guess I am plain lazy when it comes to that. After reading your posts, I feel like I should be able to accomplish some of my chores in the kitchen if I wake up early enough. Let's see!

    Supriya, thanks for all the good tips on prepping the veggies and dal etc. Very helpful.

    Krithika, no left-overs are not non-nutritive (I don't remember implying that). In fact, hubby and I eat left overs for lunch. I just prefer making dinner the biggest meal of the day, and want to work towards that.

    Sindhu, thanks for your comments too. Re your suggestions, I have to work on getting up early enough. We do have a cleaning staff that comes once a month for a thorough cleaning. I know this is bad, but I get stressed if the house is a mess (not the mess the baby makes, but messes like unclean kitchen, dishes in the sink, dirty floors, unmade bed etc.)- basically, I feel my world is going out of control if the house is a mess (I guess I get this from my mother :hide:). I don't know if I can work on that one. And I am also the kind of person who has to have a skeletal plan of something, I do like spontaneity, but I can't function without a plan in hand and feeling organized. bonk Like you said, I'll have to figure out things to keep Riya busy in the kitchen while I am cooking though.

    Thanks guys, you all have given me a LOT of good tips and suggestions. I'll work on it and come back to you and let you know how I am doing.

    Raj
     

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