In the 2.5 years that I’ve been a mum, I’ve spoken with lots of other mum’s about this crazy time of the day, also known by some as “witching hour” or “arsenic hour”. That time of the day when kids become irrational, grumpy and just want attention. In our house (like the majority out there), that falls just before dinner time.

On days when I’m home and organised, I try to plan ahead and either prepare as much as possible earlier in the day so it just has to be thrown together at the last minute, put dinner in the slowcooker in the morning so its ready at dinnertime or I cook a quick “no fail” recipe (it’s generally spag bol or apricot chicken in this house).

But sometimes even that goes out the window, especially on days when I’m out during the day or had other things to do so did not get to prepare. It doesn’t always go as planned. It comes to “irrational hour” and the wonderful meal I had planned ends up becoming a frustration as I try to multitask the surround sound effect of my screaming children with cooking.

I must say though, that my kids are pretty good. But all kids have their moments (and don’t we know it!! 🙂 ). B2 especially at only 4months can still be a battle, as he is due for his feed around the end of “irrational hour” too, so he’s both tired and hungry (doesn’t that make all males grumpy! LOL). Some days B1 is fantastic and will amuse himself with his cars, drawing or by making cups of imaginary tea. Other days, hmm.. not so much.

The easy way to combat B1 in “irrational hour” on his uncooperative days is to throw him in front of a DVD. He will sit and watch Playschool, Cars or New McDonalds Farm over and over if I let him. I use this when I feel desperate (more so when I’m sick or need that extra hour sleep in the morning), but its not something that I like to do as my first preference.

So the other option that I find really works is to involve B1 in the cooking. I often enlist his help with baking cakes and biscuits, because it’s easy to get him to stand at the bench with the mixing bowl and pour in the flour and give it a stir. I haven’t found this to be the case with dinner. As your child gets older they can help a lot more, but at only 2.5yrs old, there is a limit to the amount of things he can safely do. (eg. I wouldn’t let him grate, cut, peel, stir hot things etc.)

Here’s a list of ways my 2.5yo has been involved in dinner prep:
Quiche, Crepes, Scrambled Eggs: he can mix the ingredients.
Stir Fry: he can stir the marinade ingredients
Pizza: he can sprinkle on the topping once I’ve chopped them.
Mash Potato & Pumpkin: he can do the mashing and pour in the milk.
If i’m stuck doing something else: stand him at the bench to watch me chop, stir hots etc. and feed him bits of mushroom, capsicum, tomato or cheese slowly to try to make them last as long as possible whilst I finish cooking! hehe

What ways does your child help you in the kitchen?

Or what’s your best tip for coping with cooking dinner when it has to be done during “irrational hour” ??

(In case anyone is curious, the pic at the top is a yummy mango crepe with passionfruit that hubby & B1 made as as part of my Christmas present last year. The other pic is of the apron hubby made for B1 with Duct Tape for their cooking day!)