I refer to the time period between 4:00 and 5:30 pm (or whenever my husband comes home) as the “late-afternoon crazies.”  I think most Mom’s can agree that this time period can often be the longest of the entire day. It is some strange time warp where things that should normally take 30 minutes (like cooking dinner), can often take upwards of one hour or longer.  This is due to everyone in the house getting a little stir crazy in anticipation of Daddy coming home. 

The crazies affect even my dog, Andy, who will run to the door barking at any little sound in hopes to see Daddy driving up.  This of course means Little E also goes running and screaming through the house to follow Andy and see if Daddy is home.  Baby M is too young to understand any concept of time, yet she too seems to babble with a little more excitement and chew on her teething ring with renewed vigor.  It’s all really sweet when you think about it.  And as soon as my husband comes in the door, he is given a Heroe’s Welcome.  Little E runs up and jumps in his arms, Andy the Dog just jumps and Baby M gives Daddy her best smile of the day.  My husband has often said that he wishes I would greet him the same way!

As heartwarming as it is, I have had to find a creative way to make it through the Late-Afternoon Crazies and still stay sane and have dinner on the table.  So, my solution is to include the kids in making dinner.  I know, I know, it’s not anything ground-breaking, but sometimes it’s the simplest solutions that make the biggest difference.  Little E loves, loves, LOVES to help cook. He is in that wonderful stage where helping Mommy is fun.  So, I plan to milk it as long as I can!  When it’s time to cook dinner, I put on his apron and scoot a chair over to the kitchen counter.  He stands on the chair and “helps me.”  And yes, sometimes his “helping” may create more work for me.  But, it’s so cute watching him concentrate when he measures water and carefully stirs the ingredients in the bowl.  Even if the recipe doesn’t allow for much 3 year old chef work, I give him a bowl of water and let him sprinkle in a little salt and pepper. He can sprinkle and stir and measure for 10 – 15 minues.  In toddler time, I think that’s almost 2 days.  Baby M sits in her highchair happily watching the cooking lesson. 

So, I suggest that if you have young children that like to cook, include them in dinner preparation.  Yes, it is messy and yes it may take twice as long, but it is a fun way to get through the afternoon crazies.  And if the kitchen gets really, really messy, Daddy is there to play with the kids and give you extra time to clean up.  Another plus I didn’t anticipate is that Little E is much happier to try new things when he helped make them.   Oh, and if your kids need some inspiration, just let them watch the Disney movie, Ratatouille!