Over the past ten months that we’ve lived in this bus more than a couple people have commented that we must be pretty brave and adventurous to undertake such an endeavor.
However, I’ve come to the realization that I am neither brave nor adventuresome so much as incredibly short-sighted and amnesiac. When every challenge that we encounter takes me completely by surprise and is forgotten with the swiftness of a goldfish, I can take no credit for facing the future with unadulterated optimism and enthusiasm.
Case in point: I am well aware that the onset of fall and winter means that the days are short and the sun sets early. But I have been completely at a loss each day when I find that I have to call all the kids inside from their play just as I am thinking about getting dinner started. I shoot myself in the foot every single evening by creating the perfect storm known as “Arsenic Hour.”
Also called by such dour names as “The Witching Hour” or “Suicide Hour,” Arsenic Hour refers to that time of day when a parent’s attention and nerves tend to be stretched thinnest. I find that this usually begins right before dinner time and is amplified tenfold when there is a baby in the house.
In the Summer I managed to evade the worst of it by keeping the children outside upon pain of death if they tried to come in before it was time to sit down and eat. With shorter days this is slightly less feasible since as soon as it starts to get dark they become coyote bait.
So, around 4:30 they descend and start asking what I’m making for dinner, complaining about whatever I tell them, tattling on each other, picking off and tasting pieces of the food being prepared, taking out whatever toy has the most pieces within reach and scattering them on the nearest surface and wrestling with each other until somebody gets hurt. The chaos is amplified when the baby starts crying because I’ve had to put him down for any reason at all.
This used to be bad enough in a regular sized house, but now it’s condensed into 400 square feet of space.
It has been said that taking care of children is easy, unless you’re trying to do anything else at the same time. Most of the overwhelm I feel around sunset has to do with the fact that I’m distracted by trying to get dinner ready and Noah isn’t home from work yet to help wrangle everybody. What I need to do is take steps to make sure I have as little else competing for my attention as possible, because my kids need every ounce of it that they can get.
1. Meal plan (having an idea of what I’m actually going to cook helps a ton).
2. Crock pot meals (this is not as effective in the winter since we don’t have as much electricity and the crock pot uses quite a bit).
3. Prepping as much as possible ahead of time as I can (i.e. cutting veggies, cooking meat to be assembled later).
4. Making a double batch and freezing half to use as a meal another time.
5. Having the kids help make dinner (I don’t know that I have the patience for this one on a regular basis.)
6. Sending the kids to the neighbors house while THEY make dinner (tempting… maybe a trade off could be arranged?)
7. Eat out more often (even more tempting, but expensive).
8. Have Noah make dinner when he gets home (because it’s not like he’s been doing anything all day)(just kidding).
And… I’m tapped.
How do YOU avoid Arsenic Hour?