Now that we have two kids, both still in diapers, and my maternity leave is over, everything is different. Nivi and I race out the door in the morning and race back home at the end of the day. Every moment with our kids should be “precious”, but in reality, it’s “extremely stressful”. One thing we’re trying to stay on top of is family dinner. While I was on leave I was able to cook dinner almost every night and have it ready by the time Nivi got home. We’d sit at the table with our two-year-old, Ida, in her high chair, and baby Noa in her stroller or in one of our laps, and have 10, maybe 15 minutes, of somewhat-calm quality time before Noa would cry for her dinner or Ida would demand to be let down to play. Nevertheless, those few minutes were, in fact, “precious”.
These days, it’s impossible to get home at 6:30 and make dinner. We’re exhausted, Ida is whiny, Noa is hungry and tired. Recently, Nivi came up with a possible solution: We prep dinner in the morning so all we need to do when we get home is put the pan on the stove. This means you can find us on any given weekday, at about 6:45 a.m., in the kitchen peeling and roasting carrots, washing spinach, chopping tomatoes or breading chicken cutlets. Ida is still asleep and the baby is chewing on some plastic toy on the living room floor. We are a well-oiled machine. All business.
I was pleased to see we aren’t the first parents to try this. My friend Jenny Rosenstrach recommends the strategy in her new book, Dinner a Love Story: It all Begins at the Family Table, and after doing it for two weeks now, so far, so good. Still, every morning I’m reminded of just how insane it is for two working parents to raise two kids and have any time to breathe, let alone enjoy each other’s company. Another thing Nivi and I could be doing with that early-morning time is sleeping, or chilling out in bed with the baby, or sitting in our backyard and drinking coffee. Instead, we’re hard at work in the kitchen because we’ve prioritized family dinner. Everything’s a tradeoff, and everything is different.