I was talking with another mom last week and she said that she makes three dinners sometimes, one for her, one for her husband, and one for her three-year-old. And all I could think of was how much work that is. Most nights, I make one dinner. Now, I could make the argument that it teaches my kids that the world does not revolve around them, or that it helps expand their palates, but really, it’s because some nights I can barely get one meal on the table, much less individual plates tailored to each person’s tastes. So who better than I to let other moms in on my secrets? I give you the lazy mom’s parenting guide.
1. Dinner is dinner. Eat it or don’t eat it. Now, I will cop to letting Katrina eat hot dogs when we have chili or goulash, mostly because she truly hates bell peppers and spicy food. But if she just doesn’t want, say, baked chicken, tough. She’s eaten before, she can eat it again. Or not. There are bananas on the kitchen counter if she’s still hungry.
2. Plan your meals. I plan dinners for the week and make a shopping list. Then I go to the store. Once a week. That’s it. And as a stay-at-home mom I can go at 9 am on a weekday. Taking grumpy hungry kids to a grocery store full of other grumpy hungry kids (and adults!) in the late afternoon on the weekdays is too much work. As is going more than once a week.
OK, I may stop and get some more milk or orange juice at some point during the week. But only if I forget to ask hubby to do it for me.
3. Children will be in their beds by 8:30 pm. Earlier, if possible. Look, us lazy moms need our TV/computer/sit on the couch time. That means, children need to go to bed. Also, it’s much easier for me the next day if I don’t have droopy, grumpy children.
4. Children will learn to take their own baths/showers as soon as possible. One quirk of mine is that I hate giving baths to the little ones. Hubby takes that responsibility on for the baby, and Katrina takes a shower herself. Sometimes she needs help with tangly hair, but that’s all.
5. Do one load of laundry each day. Doesn’t seem so lazy, but the longer I let the laundry go, the more intimidating it is. And we have a German washer/dryer, which has far less capacity than the American ones. One load a day, washed, dried, folded, put away.
Yeah, I’m not doing that at the moment. Baby came and threw the house into disarray, and nearly two years later I still am not back on the laundry track. Most days I do some laundry, which is then added to the ever-growing “needs folded” pile. If it gets big enough or I have to send Katrina rummaging through it to find clothes in the morning, I fold it (or sometimes hubby does. Score!).
5. Hire a cleaning lady, if you can at all afford it. I told you I was lazy.
7. If children are not in the house, they cannot mess up the house. Therefore, scout out your area for playgrounds, playgroups, indoor play places, and malls. Other people’s homes are also ideal.
8. If children are not in the house, you don’t have to figure out how to occupy them. Maybe your kids aren’t as easily bored as mine. Maybe your kids are close enough in age to play with each other. I’m raising essentially two only children (6-year age difference). The playground is good for both of them. Also, outdoors in the back yard or the scooter (for Katrina) and the play car (Annika) in the street outside. All I have to do is follow Annika around. Much easier than trying to keep her from climbing on chairs and ripping apart the tea bags.
9. Elmo is your friend. Annika just discovered TV—or, rather, she discovered Elmo. Elmo buys me time to put in a load of laundry or start dinner or even go to the bathroom by myself without a screaming child clutching at my knees. Elmo is my friend.
10. Sometimes cooking is less work than eating out. If your children are older than, say, 5, eating out might be easier. If you have a toddler or preschooler, keeping them happy and occupied during dinner in a restaurant may be more stressful than just cooking and eating at home. Take-out is the easiest, of course, but the demands of my gluten-free diet make even take-out a big pain.
11. Naps are your friend. Yay for naps! For the children, that is. Well, and me too. But then when would I have time to write quality advice like this?