"Piranha hour", otherwise known as "unreasonable request hour". If you have small kids, you know what I'm talking about. It's that hour right before your husband comes home from work. The kids are cranky, hungry, needy and you are trying to get dinner on the table. If someone is going to fall down and scrap a knee, it's gonna happen then. It can be a very stressful time a day. What if this could be a peaceful time of day? How would this change your mood when your husband walks in the door?
Here's a few suggestions that have worked for me. First, the crock pot is your friend. You can have your dinner prepared and the kitchen clean right after breakfast. My children have always been happiest in the morning, that is a wonderful time to go ahead and get dinner taken care of. I have also only ruined one crock pot meal, that was a very sad day, I forgot to plug the thing in, oops!
Another idea, go ahead and do all the preparations you can for dinner right after lunch. That may include chopping veggies, putting a casserole together, what have you, just so you are not doing everything during that stressful time of day. Notice a pattern here: I am cooking/preparing right after another meal when I will already be cleaning up dishes, etc. Also, after lunch is usually a nice time to let the kids either nap, have quite time or watch a show.
Now that my kids are getting a little bigger, three and five, I've found it's really fun to let them help with the dinner preparations. Of course, give the children age appropriate jobs, which may just be putting cheese in a bowl. They will be so proud for helping Mommy with dinner, be sure to brag on them when Daddy gets home. This is also a win-win. They get to have my attention, but I am still getting dinner made. Just remember someday you may just look at these years with children hanging from your pant legs as the happiest years of your life. Enjoy it now!