My husband doesn’t get home from work until 6:30pm, sometimes later. He can’t help it due to the demands of his job, but it leaves me with a lot of work trying to manage the kids, dinner and other things. Any tips for me on how to manage it all? Serena – San Diego, CA
You won’t believe how common this is — so many people are expected to work much more than a 40 hour work week. There are a few things that I do to help keep my sanity. First of all, if you are able, take a break during the middle of the day. If it’s during the time when the kids are napping or at school or what have you, sit yourself on the couch with a magazine or a great show on Tivo and feel no guilt about putting your feet up. I find this helps me incredibly to keep it together until 9:00. Secondly, we have put our family calendar on line so my husband can see what the family is up to while he’s at work. That way, he can try and manage his end as much as possible. It’s not always in his control, but it really does help if he can readily check our schedule. Lastly, if you need to leave some dishes in the sink or some laundry in the basket until the following morning, do not sweat it. If you are going to keep sane, you need to let a few things go. Amy C. – 40 something
1. Identify the priorities for this time of day. The top priority might be “family time,” or “getting homework done.” Maybe there are things on your to do list, that shouldn’t be done during this time?
2. Find ways to get dinner made ahead of time. Maybe use a Crockpot on some days or have the whole family get together on Sunday afternoon and make some meals that can be frozen and brought out during the week?
3. How can the children help you? Setting the table, folding laundry, making a salad, helping siblings with homework will keep the kids focused and make less work for you. Plus, children love to be useful and feel like they are “helping.” Jamee – 40 something
Don’t do what I did and be angry all the time. Figure out a routine that will help you cope. Some people find a friend to share dinner making with and each take one turn a week bringing over a dinner. I had Friday night Chinese takeout and movie night. My kids rarely watched TV so that was a treat for all of us and relaxing for me and the kids. For your husband, make him a dish for dinner and hold it in the fridge. Let him warm it up himself when he gets home because you are bound to be pooped out. And let your spouse know how you feel! Don’t let exhaustion, anger or loneliness take over. Ann – 50 something
Schedule, schedule, schedule! If you can keep on schedule, no matter what time hubby comes home eventually it will become easier. Say he gets home early one night and it is bath time, he can take over bath duties freeing you up for something else. Also trying to cook dinners ahead always helped as it is one less thing you have to worry about during the week. I would cook ahead and make extra so I could freeze it for another meal which left me time to help the kids with homework while dinner was reheating. Also if the kids are old enough they can help you set the dinner table and clear it off after dinner. It is never too early to start having them help. Good luck! Helene – 60 something
It’s only been recently that a man has even been expected to help! He used to be rewarded for a long day with his slippers waiting next to his easy chair! It was true back in the 1960’s and 70’s when I was raising kids. Fast forward to the reality of the 21st century, where early evenings have become the catch all for numerous activities. The keys to relieving the stress are organization and scheduling.
Our biggest meal is during the busiest part of a family’s day. Part of the solution is to discipline yourself not to combine the dinner hour with too many things. Ignore phones—including texts– and don’t do laundry or pay bills. Let homework go and have the children participate on an age appropriate level, keeping them busy working toward the common goal of completing dinner with a lot of encouragement. Make friends with your slow cooker so there is a hot meal waiting to accommodate busy days. Shop only once or twice a week and spend a few hours making a dish that you can freeze or eat off of during the week. Keep a well-stocked pantry that allows you to put together a quick, yet healthy meal if you are on a time crunch. Get dinner out of the way in the most efficient way you can manage. Marge – 70 something