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My Struggle with My Family’s Evening Schedule

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I feel like evenings have been the bane of my existence since having a newborn.  Maybe I didn’t have a perfect evening schedule before having a baby and I was in this babyless bliss, not knowing what was happening, and how I was failing at achieving the perfect schedule.  Now, evenings feel chaotic and unscheduled, and I can’t figure out how to get all of us to eat dinner at the same time.  

Reader, I’m going to warn you upfront that this will not be a post about how I solved this issue.  

Maybe you will relate and feel better because you are not the only one, maybe you will think my problem is so easy- why can’t I just pull it together, or maybe you will have had this issue and solved it and you will provide the coveted piece of advice that will solve all my problems.  OK, maybe not all my problems, but if you do have that piece of advice, feel free to throw it in.

The struggle with our evening schedule started right away after having my daughter.  My husband and I called it the “witching hour.”  

She would cluster feed a lot during the evening.  Even after she outgrew cluster feeding, after being at daycare all day, my daughter always  wanted to nurse immediately when we got home- and I’d be trapped on the couch for most of the evening until she went to bed…  I thought once she started solid foods, things would get easier.  I hoped we’d get home and she would wait patiently for family dinner.  So far, this has not been the case.

On a typical weekday, we get home between 5:30-6 pm.  My daughter generally asks to eat right when we get home.  Since my husband and I have both been at work all day, obviously when we get home dinner is not immediately ready.  I end up feeding her something for dinner before the rest of us eat.  Then we play with her until it’s time for bath and bed.  Since we only have an hour and a half or less with her every day, I hate to spend all that time cooking and not getting to see her.  While I get her to bed, my husband will start dinner for the rest of us (either he and I, or for the two of us and his son, when we have him).  

After I put our daughter to bed, I will come downstairs and help finish dinner, or sometimes make myself a different side than they are having.  We all eat slightly different diets, so I don’t always like the things my husband and stepson prefer for dinner.  We eat around 7:30 most nights.  My stepson is 15, so he can handle having a later dinner, and if he is hungry, he can always make himself a snack.  For my husband and I, it’s also not a big deal to eat later.  What I hate about this schedule though is that our daughter never gets to eat with us.  

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At one and a half, she might not know that she’s missing out, but I feel like she is excluded from a bonding moment for our family…

I also sometimes struggle to get our daughter to try new foods, and I constantly hear other moms say their toddler just eat whatever they are having for dinner.  I feel like this could work for us, IF I could get us to all eat at the same time.  I’m sure we’ll eventually get a better routine down, and that this small time in my daughter’s life won’t send her into therapy as an adult, but you know, mom guilt.  It gets you all the time.

Do any other moms struggle with their evenings?  How have you managed to get everyone at the table at once?

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