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Is witching hour spoiling your plans for a happy family dinner?

Witching Hour Meal Hacks
Witching Hour is a Typically difficult time in the afternoons for kids and parents …
Am I right, or Am I right?
Personally, I have used so many different recipes and cooking methods at different parts of my motherhood journey (so far) and readily accept that I will continue to keep chopping and changing.  Why? I have needed to be adaptable so that I can obtain as smooth-as-possible transitions to our dinner and set my kids up to participate happily.
Witching hour is especially difficult for kids as they are weary from the day and don’t have much more room in their sensory cups for too much more input.
The key for me has been to acknowledge the constantly changing demands in the amount of time dinner preparation can take. The newborn phase was very different to toddlerhood. This again was different when one child became two. Different again when my youngest started solids, my toddler was needing extra attention and to add to it my husband changed jobs. It also became different again when I started working part-time in the afternoon/evenings at the feeding clinic. Basically it means that, I have learnt that I need a swag of recipes / cooking styles that allow me to spend quality time with my children immediately before dinner time.  Even then things can go pear-shaped and I can guarantee you that it’s not about the food!
I have collected a couple of recipes there that fit the bill for a range of requirements.  For example, the days when you get home with 1 hr to spare before dinner but still want to spend most of that time with the kids, I’d go for a bacon and zucchini baked risotto or my beef and chorizo one-pot-wonder. Then again, there are other recipes that work well for me when we can prepare ahead during the day. The girls usually work alongside me as my “helpers” to prepare vegies in advance to go alongside dishes like slow cooker whole chicken, greek chicken portions or lamb sausage rolls. The common element of these recipes are that they can be left unattended for a little while as they cook and leave me to get on with other activities. Shari from GoodFoodWeek wrote the top 10 meal planning hacks in our Happy Mealtimes eCourse – her blog series on tray bakes is definietly GOLD for ideas on meals that don’t make much washing up and you can simply prep and step away.
I would love it if thinking about dinner prep in this way could help you stop requesting the kids to “get out of the kitchen” and let you actually “get out of the kitchen”. It may end up that your mood coming to the table is less frantic and happy – a very good place to start.
I feature some of the above mentioned receipes in my eBook “Witching Hour Friendly Recipes” that comes as a bonus freebie with the online videos – “Feeding Toddler Boys” and “Is Screen Time Sabotaging your Mealtime?”
Now that the girls are getting older, we love making many “quick” meals together things like home made pizza (pictured above), crumb-free chicken parmigiana, baked tacos and sushi!  Yet, even with these meals, I can still etch out a way to focus on the kids for a few minutes of exercise before we get to the table.
What time saving hacks do you have up your sleeve for mealtimes allowing you to get in good quality time with the kids before dinner? What is your prepare to eat routine?

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