Over the past month or so we’ve been finding our feet and new routine, adjusting to Nell starting school, Isla heading to nursery a bit more, and me working more than I had been as well. It’s been okay overall, thought I must admit there are just some days where I feel like I will never quite catch up.. Last week at 5pm I was in the midst of making dinner as per usual and witching hour was starting to set in, also as per usual. That magical combination of hungry, tired, slightly bored and just generally grumpy hour right before dinner – where there is still a lot left to be done, but no one has much patience to let you do it. Nick was at work, we had all had a rubbish night’s sleep, and for whatever reason I was hellbent on trying to make squash and chickpea hummus. We needed to have that and only that for dinner. And dinner needed to be served promptly at 6pm, no earlier, no later to stay in line with our routine. Plus I was trying to keep my own attitude and stress levels in check as the girls’ mood started to grate and deteriorate….
By 5:03 the kids were both pitching fits about sharing toys, Isla was moaning about wanting a dummy and to be picked up, Nell is getting teary eyed, the food processor was going, I was trying to take the rest of the roasted squash and chickpeas out of the oven so we could have leftovers, all the while trying to talk them both down and still attempting to keep my head in the kitchen game. It was FAR too much for anyone to handle even fresh eyed and bushy tailed, let alone hours after the caffeine and patience had worn off.
By 5:04 it all came to a head and I suddenly realised I was not actually at war with the kids impatient moods, but with my own expectations of how the day should be going at this stage. Rather than trying to muscle through the stressful situation for no real reason or reward, I made the conscious decision I would adjust my thinking instead. Both little grumps were plopped at the table by 5:07 as I grabbed the tray full of squash and chickpeas with an oven glove and set it there too, far away from little hands of course. This was followed by our giant tub of yoghurt, and a few spoons. No plates, no cutlery, and the fancy hummus I had sort of, mostly made was left sitting in the food processor along with a pile of other dishes on the counter.
The girls picked up the slices of squash with their fingers and dipped it directly into the pot of yoghurt. Eventually we did break out some bowls because things got a little too messy for even them… but even so… They at the chickpeas or ‘crunchies’ as we called them, by the handful. Eventually I got up to get us all water. And that was it. And they loved it! Eating right off of the (cooled) baking tray, getting messy by dipping straight into the yoghurt, and sharing everything, it was a great meal. We used the remaining time afterwards, when we would normally have been just sitting down to dinner, to go for a walk before it got dark and stomp through the freshly fallen leaves.
It feels impossible to dial back the expectations sometimes, especially when they are expectations I make for myself and my own accomplishments. But as the months, and years get busier I’m going to have to get better at doing it – seeing the bigger picture. In this instance the bigger picture was happy kids, nutritious food, minimal stress, and time well spent together.
I think I’m going to be revisiting this blog post often in the coming years as the demands increase. No doubt this is a lesson I will need repeated.
“Crunchies” (or roasted chickpeas if your serving them to adults)
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1-2 tsp flaked sea salt (kosher salt would work here too)
1 tsp dried thyme, or any other dried herb you have on hand
*cumin and smoked paprika are also nice additions
1 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 180C/350F
On a baking tray, spread out your rinsed and drained chickpeas and coat them evenly with oil, using your hands to help.
Once they are coated add your salt, herbs and seasonings, stirring the chickpeas around a few more times to make sure they are evenly coated.
Pop on a top shelf in the oven for 25-30 minutes, giving them a good turn about 1/2 way through their cooking time. Serve slightly warm for best effect, baking tray optional.