clip_image002You know those pictures in magazines of mothers cooking something while their kids are smiling, wearing clean clothes, laughing with each other, doing some kind of craft or coloring or reading? The sun is shining through the big fat windows in the house and you can almost hear the melodious sounds abounding from the experience – sounds that make the meal even more tastier than it smells while it’s cooking. The mother is smiling, of course, because her sweet little cherubs are delighting her very soul while she is crafting, creating, exploring, providing – all in one simple act of cooking a meal.

Um, yeah, that’s NOT what it’s like in my house.

Got the sweet little cherubs. Got the kitchen to cook in. Got the smells of delicious food wafting through the house. But that’s about it.

Around here, dinner time equals “crazy time”. Nearly every night. No matter what goes on before I start dinner. No matter what I’m  cooking. No matter if D is sitting in front of the TV or if L has his blanket.

I’m not kidding you, as soon as I start to make dinner, that’s when the pandemonium really hits the fan. At some point, both boys have to be HELD, and they’re “crying” if I don’t. Both of them immediately have to be “up” at the kitchen counter, getting their hands into anything and everything within reach. Both start to increase the pitch of their whines and screams to new levels. Both are typically clutching my leg at some point, begging to “see” what I’m doing so they can be a part of the awesome task of making dinner!!!

You can only imagine how I’m feeling by the time the food is actually on the table and I have 3 seconds to sit down and wipe the sweat from my face before moving on to the next phase of dinner with 2 little ones at the table: Get your Knife, Get your Fork, and CUT!

Earlier today I kinked up my neck pretty bad, so I was unable to move my head in pretty much every direction. Even though it’s Saturday and Hubbs was home, the boys were still antsy when I got dinner started. I really didn’t have it in me to ward off their usual tactics of trying to engage me for the next 30 minutes.

And then I remembered the beans.

I grabbed a small plastic tub, dumped two 1-pound bags of dried beans into it, dropped some metal cars in the beans, and voilaDISTRACTION! Little hands getting busy with stuff that is all theirs to mess around with so my big hands can get back to providing for my family.

IMG_0367Now I’ll warn you ahead of time. If you try this at home, be prepared for the following:

  • beans EVERYWHERE
  • kids fighting over beans
  • beans attempting to be eaten or shoved up a nose
  • kids not wanting to stop playing with beans just because dinner is on the table

But you’ll also get:

  • at least 20 minutes of “you” time with the kitchen stove
  • something interesting to watch when you’re not grating, peeling, cutting or stirring

IMG_0372Oh sure, there were plenty of beans underfoot as I got the food on the table. But cleanup was a breeze with my little helper and his ability to hold the dust pan while I swept up the floor.

But my nerves were much more settled and the beans? They’re stored in a plastic bin in a kitchen cabinet for another night!

image credit: Google images