It’s 4 p.m. and the countdown to dinner, bath, and bedtime is on! Knowing your spouse is close to being home to tag-team the nightly Olympics gives you enough energy to get through the rest of the evening. But, what about the nights when your spouse works late? There’s no one to help with dishes or pass the baton to when you’re about to lose your damn mind.
We’ve got six fresh ideas to get you through dinner and your nighttime routine when your spouse works late.
- Shared meals — If you know your spouse isn’t going to be home for dinner, invite a friend over to help pass the time and combat the loneliness. Split the cooking, split a bottle of wine, and bon appetit!
- Alternative meals — Breakfast for dinner is almost always a crowd pleaser for children and super simple to prepare. Pour some cereal, toss them a banana, and call it a night. Tired of cereal night? Kids love finger foods. Lay out items like turkey, cheese, crackers, carrots, and blueberries on a serving tray. Call it platter night and let them go wild; don’t even worry about dishes, and there’s no cutting or prepping necessary! If your budget can swing it, pick up a meal from your favorite restaurant to save yourself from cooking a gourmet meal (that you know your children won’t eat anyway). Don’t feel like fighting with the kids to get in their car seats? Check out Grub Hub or a delivery service in your area, and have your meal delivered straight to your door.
- Theme night — Theme does not have to equal extra work. Try pizza and p.j. night. Or, have a picnic dinner; just lay a blanket on the kitchen floor (or outside if you have great weather) and let the kids eat off of paper plates. Can you say easy cleanup? For an added fun factor, keep cute decorative plates from Target’s Dollar Spot on hand. It’ll make your dull night feel more festive. Who doesn’t love movie night? Set the kids up at a small table and let them have dinner with a show. You’re sure to win cool-mom points with this one.
DMM tip: Have a backup plan! Were you expecting your spouse to be home, but then things changed at the last minute? Always keep a frozen meal in the freezer (or pizza delivery on speed dial) for those Semper Gumby nights.
Bedtime Doesn’t Have to be Blue
- Take a walk or bike ride. The change of scenery, fresh air against your skin, and saying hi to your neighbors will liven your mood, and the kids will benefit from the energy release. With any luck, everyone will be tired after a few trips around the block.
- Let bath time be splash time. Small children usually love splashing around in the tub. Throw some towels on the floor (because you know it’s going to be a scene out of The Perfect Storm) and let them play until they’re pruney. If your children are old enough and safe, sit by the door and do some light relaxing stretches, read a book, or fold laundry.
- Save storytime. Is your spouse the official bedtime storyteller of the family? Save videos on your phone of your spouse telling stories for the nights when they can’t be there. Or, break out those videos they made through United Through Reading. That way, when the kids ask, “Can you tell us another one?” simply press play again (and again, and again) and hopefully steal a few quiet moments for yourself.
It’s Only Temporary
Don’t forget to be flexible! There’s no need to panic when you get a last-minute phone call that your spouse isn’t going to be home for dinner, bath, and bed. Instead, take a deep breath and pick one or two of the ideas listed above. Dive in and go for it. Some of your kids’ favorite childhood memories may very well be one of those times you did something different and out of the blue. Most importantly, remember that having your spouse miss out on the evening routine is only temporary. You are one strong mama, and you can get through it! Now, grab that glass of wine or lavender tea, and read a book or binge on Netflix. You deserve it!
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