Working Mother Survival Recipes


Having a second kid has been a challenge in so many ways. Before Daniel was born, I had been able to do a lot of meal planning. Once a week I cooked new and different meals for my family, even as a working mom. My oldest was four and easily entertained before dinner. Sometimes he even “helped.” Life was free and easy back then.

Fast forward to life with a 5.5 year old and a 17 month old. The littlest is now climbing tables and chairs and then standing there, threatening to dive head first onto the floor. When am I suppose to make dinner? Either I give him a snack or I sit him down in his chair and feed him dinner as it comes off the skillet. No more family dinners. Dinner is divided into Daniel’s dinner time with one parent and then Charlie’s dinner time with the other parent. I know this will pass, but now it’s rough.

Even though I don’t have the time or energy to plan out meals or even cook something elaborate, this is the time when I feel like I need to be introducing a variety of foods to little Daniel.

It’s hard to throw something together all the time and still have it be fresh and delicious. I’ve started writing down a list of my go-to meals. All are able to be made when you have no childcare and you have to get dinner going. I really want to help moms like me who are struggling with young children at meal times.

I’m going to write up the recipes I have been relying on and that are in my head as well as the meal plans for two weeks of my creations. This could take me awhile since everything takes me extra time these days, but I’m going to get it all together. I’m doing this as much for myself as for you. I need to formalize my favorite recipes and then keep them nearby. Stay tuned.

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12 thoughts on “Working Mother Survival Recipes

  1. This sounds so familiar! I have two boys (15 mo. and 3.5 years) and dinner time is a hugely stressful event at our house. Thankfully big bro is good at briefly entertaining little bro, but I still feel like I am constantly cooking under pressure. I have started a monthly menu of our favorites, then just switch up some new recipes a few times a week. I save the more time-consuming recipes for the weekend when dad is home and the easiest ones for the weeknight when he gets home just in time to sit down for dinner. I’ve been using my slow cooker WAY more than I ever thought I would, since it’s easier to throw everything together in the morning before heading out to work and coming home to dinner waiting. 🙂 I look forward to getting some new easy recipe ideas!

    1. My slow cooker is a necessity too. I can’t imagine living without it. It’s the best when I come home and find a meal ready to go in there — Sometimes I’m so busy I forget that I even set it up!!

  2. I so need this! My two are 5.5 and 21 months, and my struggle is the same as yours. And it’s frustrating because if anything, I feel like it’s getting harder instead of easier! Thank you in advance for taking the time to do this!

    1. I think you are right about it getting harder. I thought this was going to get easier, too. When I had the little one in the baby bouncer on the floor, that was way easier than now!

  3. Yes, this too shall pass. Think of this season as a time to learn. Learn to let go of things that don’t absolutely have to be done right now (dusting comes to mind!). Learn to appreciate the moment instead of focusing on perfection. Most of all, learn empathy. These days that are so exhausting will truly help you understand how parents get to the point of plopping a toddler down in front of the TV for an hour or feeding everyone microwave dinners.

    Having kids is an exercise in flexibility. Just when you think you know when you can schedule an appointment around their nap schedules, it changes. About the time you figure out how to cook dinner without anyone needing stitches, something else will pop up to make dinner challenging – sports practices or music lessons or something. And then, before you know it, you’re researching recipes on how to cook for two again.

    Give yourself a break, do your best, and enjoy the ride.

  4. I am right there with you. I have an almost six year old and a 14 month old, and I, too, find that getting dinner together is crazy. The baby wants to be held or fed or is threatening to climb the stairs, so I’m constantly distracted. I’ve starting thinking he’s just hungry and probably needs to be fed earlier, but I also want to try to keep it a family dinner! Things got more complicated for me when my older son got diagnosed with Celiac disease last fall, and suddenly a lot of my processed, go-to quick side dishes (and some main dishes) were no longer available. We’ve discovered a new love for baked potatoes, and sometimes I cheat with a store bought creamy cheese sauce to put on gluten free pasta. We eat a lot of meat, which isn’t cheap, and while I’ve tried to introduce new veggies, even my husband is resistant. It’s definitely a challenge. Add in that I work full time and my older son now has sports practice twice a week in the evenings and we’re a mess at dinner time! Any thoughts you can share would be great!

    1. Yes, the gluten free thing makes it harder too. We are GF over here and that can be hard. Three years GF and counting!

  5. You must visit this website! I have been reading her blog for years and she actually wrote a book chronicling her family’s evolution of family dinner and she touches on just the topic you’re talking about. Her kids are older now and so her recipes have gotten more complicated, but she will have some great ideas for you. And she’s funny.

  6. For me dinnertime has been even harder since my kids started school. Between homework and bedtimes, I rely on my husband to cook dinner most nights. And when he’s not home for dinner, we eat quick (usually minimally healthy) dinners that I can prepare while helping my kids with homework. If I ever try to cook a “real” dinner I end up burning it or messing it up somehow, because I can’t give it my full attention. I need to be saying spelling words for my oldest, or checking sight words with my youngest, or checking math problems. I am hoping that next year my soon to be 4th grader will be able to do more on his own without my help and guidance. And I am looking forward to summer, and hopefully giving my husband a break from being the sole cook in the family.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I had been banking on things getting easier down the line. My 18-month-old is climbing on all the furniture when I try to cook, which makes things challenging. I guess we can only do the best we can!!

  7. Yay!!!!!! I am sooo happy I found your blog!!! 🙂 I felt like I was reading my own words!! I’m about to explore your entire blog too now :)))

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