So, anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not home often. I don’t want to get stuck on semantics, or offend anyone with traditional terms or stereotypes, but we, as a family, over the past 4 years, have transitioned to an essentially “Mother-less” household in the sense that my children no longer have a “mother figure” cleaning, cooking or otherwise even knowing what they are up to on any given day. Except Christian – he should be at high school most days. (Although, to be honest, I’m not even good at knowing which days he should be there, either.)
But, we were used to a crazy life of younger children, Greg’s work, and my volunteering all while I was home and able to fit in all of the crazy around dinner time, laundry and cleaning. Now, we manage a different crazy – driving teens to stuff, and still fitting in volunteering and various boards all while both of us are putting in more than full time hours at a store that always seems to have one more thing to do.
For a while, it seemed that gone were the days of my family coming home to a nice, home-cooked dinner. With both Greg and I working to 6 or later, if was hard to think about dinner time before it was too late as we just weren’t used to it. We had to really start communicating and thinking a day or two in advance to make sure that our time at home wasn’t spent getting frustrated with our inability to still have family gathered around the table.
But, it’s working for us now.
Looking back, I feel that everyone in my household has transitioned pretty well to this new reality forced upon us in part from the move to the new location and then, the whole CoVid thing that transitioned everyone’s lives to some degree. I’m enjoying managing and working at the store more hours in a week than what is usually accepted as “full-time”. I’m pretty sure Greg likes having me at the store. And, my kids have all, to varying degrees put in their time at the store while following their own life plans as well. So they all know how important the store is to our family and community, and they all know that they can always get a hold of either Greg and I in a pinch if we are needed.
But, still, Dinner keeps happening.
One of the things that has helped us make this transition to our new normal has been the emphasis we continue to put on Dinner Time. It is just about as important to Greg and I as going to church on Sunday morning. With all the different schedules and balancing acts all of us are managing, we make Dinner Time a priority. Even on a night when many or all of us are out or working until close at 6:00, we are still angling and planning on having Dinner together when we all get home.
My point of all of this, and it seems to be turning into a bit of a brag post, is that I’m getting really good at letting me teens/young adult children and Schinkels’ determine what we are doing for Dinner. Many days, when I know I won’t make it home before 6:00, it starts with a text at some point in the day to the family chat – “Who is home for dinner?”, followed quickly by “Who is able to make dinner?”, or some variation of that.
This used to mean Tacos.
At first, for the most part, we were pretty much stuck with tacos or macaroni and cheese. And sometimes Taco in A Pan, which is a combination of Tacos and Macaroni and Cheese. And we were thrilled with that, even the 100th time, because it was Dinner Time together (and I didn’t have to cook it).
Outside of the Box can still be Easy.
But these people I’ve been raising have been getting good at coming into the store and thinking outside the Kraft Dinner box. Over the past year, everyone has made use of the Easy going on in the fresh counter. There are just so many options in the fresh counter that are simple enough that anyone in my family can follow the cooking instructions and present a decent meal when paired with some noodles or rice. Like London Broils and Stir Fry – Garret had this ready for us one night.
And they are also learning how to follow basic recipes like ravioli and spaghetti, which has really opened up the potential for variety when paired with a salad from the self-serve, we are good to go as far as balanced dinner. It has also opened up the ability for me to ask someone to “prep” a pasta on a day off to have it ready to put in the oven on a timer at lunch time on a busy day.
What about that Grill?
And, lately, they have even been working the Traeger or gas grill and trying out some cuts of meat like chicken legs, pork steaks and sausages as well as figuring out how to bake potatoes and grill veggies. These dinners are especially lovely for me to come home to after a busy shift.
I often post about the “Easy and Delicious. and Easy” at Schinkels. No one knows this truth better than I.
Overall, my family has risen to the challenge of being “mother-less” in the old traditional sense. Any more than anyone, I have been blessed by them rising to the challenge.