Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Please tell me!

For three weeks now, I have been cutting out almost all weekday screentime for the kids and have been mostly pleased with the results. Today, however, it blew up in my face.

After a "Quiet Time" of usual quality (the boys alternating between screaming and sobbing through the door of their bedroom, usually at least one poopy diaper I have to go in and change, scratches or bumps or other such battle wounds, and the inevitable "Can we come out yet??" being yelled over and over again)...

...I decided I'd do the dishes AND make a real dinner while the kids were running around, without putting on a Netflix tv show or anything to keep them zombified on the couch. How bad could it be, right? Surely they have enough toys to keep them entertained for an hour or two.

I was never so wrong.

After having dish after clean dish taken out of the dishwasher and headed in the wrong direction or put in someone's mouth or scattered across the floor, whining, kids fighting over who gets to hide in the kitchen cupboard... I decided to ban them both from the kitchen.

It worked for about five minutes: The boys didn't cross the line into the kitchen, and busied themselves with other fun things. I thought, "Wow, this is how the pioneers did it! What a breeze! Who needs tv anyway? Pshhh. I'm a pro."

Then it began. The whining, the screaming, the removing-Bennett-and-putting-him-in-the-living-room over and over again, the Bennett-trying-to-bite-me over and over again, the crying, the sobbing, Joshy and Bennett each trying to outscream the other, a chair tipping over with a kid on it, both of them coming into the kitchen anyway and fighting over who got to put the soap in the dishwasher and Joshy losing it hysterically for the 50th time because Bennett got to shut the soap dispenser, both of them whining that they were thirsty, whining that they were hungry...

By the time Josh Sr. and Kristen (who is staying with us for a couple months) got home from work, the dishes were done, dinner was in the oven, but

I HAD GONE INSANE.

I am not exaggerating. I could (and still can) feel my sanity floating somewhere near the ceiling, threatening to leave me forever. I was cuckoo.

Now please tell me: How oh how do you fix dinner AND be a parent at the same time without making a habit of couch-potato-ness for your kids every evening while you do it? (And no, it is not an option to let them "help" me.) How the heck did the pioneers do it?

Please tell me, or I might just check out forever.



two contented couch potatoes...

16 comments:

Jennifer Ricks said...

I swear everyone breaks down around 4:00. It's a conspiracy. Sorry, I'm no help.

Camilla said...

Hmmmm, not as ranty as I was expecting per our conversation last night :) I only wish I knew the answer...
What if there was some special game or activity that the boys really loved, maybe something new, that they could only play while you're making dinner? I have no idea what it would be, and it prob wouldn't work, but maybe it's worth a try? Something absorbing?
Sorry Delbs, about the chaos. I hope it improves.

Camilla said...

You could even go to the store together and let THEM pick out their special toys so they feel like they are involved in the process?

Jen said...

I've tried this too, but the kids always end up hurting each other and are yelling and screaming the whole time. I even tried feeding them early, while cooking a nice meal for Jeff and I to eat when he gets home, but then they're obnoxious while Jeff and I try to eat. I also tried letting them do playdough and art at the kitchen table while I cook, but then I have that mess to clean up before I set the table.

There are just some activities that I NEED to do, and I get over the fact that my kids will get tv time while I do them--- showering & cooking dinner are two of those things. I'm sorry I'm no help. Good luck!

Jen said...

Oh, and my pediatrician said that if I let my kids watch educational programs for their age range... I won't have to feel as guilty about minimal screen time. Leapfrog has some stuff on Netflix that Jeff lets our kids watch, and I like Sesame Street. However, i know my kids get more screen time than recommended. I'm doing the best that I can though :) I'm sure you are too!

Katie Bradley said...

ugh, I'm with you- I'm planning my own HOW DO I DO THIS post about making dinner with kids around because it's impossible. I'm going to be watching your comments.

Lori said...

pioneers had very short life expectancies for a reason :)

Kyle and Alli said...

I am a blog stalker and rare comment maker(lame I know, but it is good to see I am not alone in the dinner time dilemma. It has only been in the last few months that my kiddo has even had interest in TV, and even then, it is only Curious George that will hold his attention, so I have been trying not to make that my go to.

Some things that I try to do is prep dinner either the night before (cut veggies, thaw meat, etc.) or during the small nap time window I might get. During dinner prep, I put a chair by the sink and fill it with soap bubbles. My almost three year old thinks that it is so cool that he can "wash" dishes. I give him a long handle scrubber and some plastic plates and he has a blast. I also pull out special art supplies during that last hour before dad gets home (it is worth it for me to have quiet and deal with the mess).

We often have dance parties during dinner prep time... I turn on some good music and start the dancing and singing and often he will join in and either get bored and go find toys, or just stay in a general happy mood long enough for me to start paying attention to him again. A friend of mine told me that she makes sure to stop everything (no phone calls, laundry, cleaning, etc.) for the 30 min before she needs to start and just plays with her kids. She swears that that special love and devoted attention help them to then leave her alone so they can get dinner done. I often pull out a small snack just before I need to do dinner prep just to make sure that I don't have a cranky and hungry kid at that time, but it does backfire on occasion when the snack ends up replacing his appetite for dinner. We are far from perfect and there are plenty of days when I am ready for crazy town by the time dinner is served and my husband is home, but in general, I at least feel good for my efforts. Hang in there and let us know if you discover any more great tricks!

K.E.N said...

I admit that I am a supporter of letting them watch tv while you are trying to do something important like do the dishes or take a shower, or make dinner. I support your efforts and I hope you succeed. But there is one thing that I try to remember that Noah's doctor in UT told me when I was having a hard time nursing (trust me it applies)you have to do what works best for your family no matter what anyone else says or thinks. I couldn't nurse and I was catching a lot of flack for it and the minute she told me that, it gave me permission to figure out the best thing for me.
Maybe this was a once kind of thing and they'll figure it out...but maybe having them see 1/2 hr of pbs programming isn't so awful. Just a thought. Whatever you do though, I hope it works.

Linda said...

There was an young woman who lived in a shoe,
She had such noisy children, she didn't know what to do.
So she gave them some broth without any bread,
Whipped them all soundly and sent them to bed.

Obviously written by someone with "sanity" issues, right? All women with children can relate! Wish I could help.

Chloe said...

No way, this is my day with my boys. That's hilarious because I am always thinking "hmm, I wonder what the pioneers did?" It must be the fact that they had miles of open land, with mountains, streams, and fun horses to play with, so the kids were always outside playing with each other and never bothered their parents:)
Sometimes kids need a little down time to just sit and unwind like us adults...there is no harm in watching a show here and there.

Meredith Williams said...

I have wondered the same thing. 4:00pm is witch hour in our house. It's terrible because I should be happy and excited for when Bryan gets home but by the time he walks in, I'm done! So for my sanity, and for Bryan and I's relationship, I'm content about putting on a show for the kids. So, pretty much I'm no help .Good luck though!

Kira said...

I call myself a "no fuss chef". I never cook complicated or "long process" meals.

Easy recipes make for more time mothering!

Alicia Karoly said...

Dear Adele, this blog makes me think....oh wow the things I have to look forward to! lol If it were me I'd stick them outside in the backyard with plenty of warm clothes on and water bottles and let them know they're not coming in for 10 minutes then the next day 15 minutes then 20 minutes etc. Growing up if we were being crazy in the house my mom would have us go outside and run around until our bodies are ready to be back in the house again.
Good Luck!

Dahlia said...

Just to clarify I don't think an hour or two of TV (educational and even just sheer entertainment) could be considered couch-potatoism.
But if you are really interested in breaking away from TV, I find that Clay plays better with some background music. Or outside in a fenced area if possible. Invest in an automated bubble machine?! lol.
Good luck! Let me know what you find that works!!!

NoSurfGirl said...

THat hour of the day is insane. It is also when I break down. I almost feel, every once in a while, like running up to Jeff as he walks through the door, clinging to his lapels and sobbing, "take me away from here!"

:D If you ever figure out something that works (particualrly for toddlers) please let me know. Currently my strategy is to strap Hazel into her high-booster, and feed her copious amounts of honey-nut-cheerios. Or (when I really lose it...) chocolate chips :D