Posts By: Julie Cole

Dinner time Debates: How to Take the Stress out of Supper

They always love the food they plant!

People often ask what it is like to feed half dozen kids. Feeding families can be a “thing” and many parents report that dinner time can be the most stressful time of the day. I decided early on that I didn’t want meal time to create anxiety for me or my kids, so here are my few tips for relaxing and enjoying  fun family meals.

-          I don’t let myself get upset if the kids turn their noses up at what is being served for dinner. There’s enough variety that they’re going to like something on the menu.  As long as they try one bite of what is being served up, they are welcome to fill their bellies with the raw carrots on the table. No one has starved yet.

-          We keep meals simple and kid friendly. The Daddy-o works out of town during the week and I’m not a foodie, so this adult is happy to make easy dinner recipes and eat with the kiddos.

-          For me, the only thing more annoying than cooking is coming up with fast recipes and meal ideas.  I have a four week meal planner posted in the kitchen for everyone to see. It makes for effective shopping, creates less wasted food and saves me from hearing, “what’s for dinner?” six times a day.

Here is an example of my September meal plan filled with quick recipes. I use one of our quick dinner ideas on Wednesdays because the kids have hot lunches at school that day. I also try to have something they all like on a Monday, because let’s face it – Mondays can be tough. On the last Friday of the month, we order in. The menu is based on different children’s preferences and the evening activity schedule. Some meals are faster to prepare and clean up. Those are meals we have on nights where we have to be at music, dance, hockey and taekwondo right after dinner.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 Fish and Chips/raw veg Chicken drumsticks/mashed potato/corn Breakfast for dinner (eggs/bacon) Pasta: spaghetti and meatballs Home-made pizza/raw veg
Week 2 Salmon/ asparagus/noodles Chicken breast/ mashed spuds/corn Homemade soup Pasta: pesto Chicken and Cesar salad
Week 3 Tacos Butter chicken and rice Salad wraps Chicken snitzel/roast potatoes/tomato and avocado salsa Hotdogs and hamburgers/salad
Week 4 Cheesy pasta Ribs/noodles/corn on the cob Crepes and omelets Bangers and mash/ peas ORDER IN

Substitutes: curried sausage, chili, perogies, Swedish meatballs and rice, lasagna.

How does your family survive the dinner hour? Do you have any quick and easy dinner ideas or meal planner tips that make this time of day less stressful in your house?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

When One Parent Travels … a lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

Most of the time, I have these beauties all to myself!

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Surviving Sixteen Years and Six Kids

I recently celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary to Daddy-o. When I say “celebrated,” I actually just mean that we both “remembered.” It has been a busy sixteen years and I’d be lying if I said we’ve actually remembered all of our anniversaries. Usually we are reminded of this special occasion when his mother calls to offer congratulations.

People have asked how we’ve survived 16 years and six kids. I could say all the usual healthy relationship tips: don’t go to bed angry, appreciate each other, say “I love you”, make time for each other, communicate honestly and often, blah, blah, blah. All this marriage advice is useful and we probably do them for the most part.

A little pre-wedding croquet!

What I really think has been useful is some of the advice that was given to me.

Before we were married, Daddy-o’s mother sat us down and said this: “Just so you know, there are not going to be hard days, hard weeks and hard months – there are going to be hard YEARS. If you can just work through them it will all be worth it.”

I also remember what my brother says: “If the grass is looking greener on the other side, try taking better care of your lawn.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think people should be miserable with their spouse for years, and certainly some people take very good care of their lawns and still can’t avoid those poisonous weeds. Ending a marriage can sometimes be the very best thing for a family. Only those in the marriage are qualified to make that call and decide how to fix a relationship. But, I think these messages have been good reminders to me that relationships were never meant to be easy all the time and that part of my responsibility is to work on it.

One thing I do know is that the guy who posted his dissatisfaction with his married sex life online last week should have kept this dissatisfaction to himself. I doubt it helped his marriage and I’m certain it won’t lead to him getting more action in the bedroom. So if nothing else, my relationship advice is DON’T DO WHAT THIS IDIOT DID.

You’re welcome. You can thank me for saving your marriages henceforth.

What keeps your marriage/relationship going strong? Did you get any good dating advice that has helped your partnership?

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