In our house they are times when I just can't make dinner. I try to keep easy to fix items in the cabinet or freezer for these nights & until recently I always felt guilty telling my husband & kids dinner was going to be Fend For Yourself. One day it suddenly hit me that Fend For Yourself night is actually a very good learning experience for my family. I'm not organized enough to actually schedule Fend For Yourself into my plans for the week, it just seems to happen at the last minute once or twice a month.
Our most recent Fend For Yourself night happened when I found out at 4:30 in the afternoon that I was supposed to be at Middle School conferences that very night at 6. Hubby doesn't get home from work until 6:15 & we don't usually eat until at least 7. The meal I had been planning wasn't even started yet & there was no way I could get it made & get ready to leave on time. These events are middle school child & parent only, so I was already going to have to be late just waiting for Hubby to get home to stay with the rest of the kids.
I checked the freezer...1 pepperoni frozen pizza (not enough to feed Hubby & 3 girls)
I checked the pantry...boxed mac & cheese, cans of ravioli, cans of soup, PB&J.
At this point, I talked with my 11 yr old middle school son & my 9 yr old daughter...together we came up with a plan. My son cooked a package of boxed mac & cheese & ate most of it...he was fed, the 2 & 4 yr olds finished the rest. My daughter opened two cans of ravioli, put them in a large bowl, covered it with a plate & microwaved it. When it was done, she divided it into 3 bowls for herself & the younger kids. At 5:55 while I was changing the baby & finishing up getting ready to leave, my son put the frozen pizza in the oven for Hubby. I took the pizza out just as Hubby walked in the door & the middle schooler & I walked out, leaving Hubby with the 3 girls. It was a hectic hour and a half, but it really made me realize that not only are my kids capable of taking care of some of their own needs, they can also help with the younger kids. I wouldn't want dinner to be like this every night, but there is a certain piece of mind in knowing that even though they are only 9 & 11, my kids CAN make a meal for themselves & the rest of the family.