21 answers

When Do You Make Dinner for Schoolkids Who Have a Home-late Dad?


I'm having a hard time figuring out when to serve dinner at home. My daughter gets home from school at 3pm and is hungry. Her last meal was lunch at 11am. My hubby comes home between 6:30pm-7pm every weekday evening from work. My children's bedtime is at 7pm. I try to put my girls down for bed at 7pm but Dad just getting home has them wound up. Plus, I grew up having dinner with my entire family every evening and I want this for my kids, but in order to keep the 7pm bedtime, I have to serve dinner before my hubby comes home. Right?

I bet other moms have husbands who get home around the same time. What do you guys do for your kids after school? Snack? And then when do you serve dinner? Does your hubby just heat dinner up when he gets home? How does it work?

Help, I think I'm too clueless about scheduling to figure out how to make all this fit!

Thanks :)

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Featured Answers

Nutrituous snack when they get home from school.
dinner at 7ish
Bedtime at 8 or 8ish whenever you can get through.
I would think 7 is too early to go to bed.
They need a snack when they get home and they need to see dad.
Is there anyway dad could aim to be home at 6:45? That would help too. He needs to try to make that a priority to be involved in their lives.

More Answers

When my children get home from school they have a small snack and then do homework. Once homework is done they play until dinner at 6:00. My husband gets home by 6 most of the time so we are able to have a family dinner, however there was a time not too long ago when this was not the case. Back then I fed the kids at 5:30, did baths and had them in their room reading/playing quietly until he arrived at about 7:30 to go in and say goodnight. My husband and I would then eat a late dinner together. We made sure then that every Saturday and Sunday night was a family dinner together (and usually lunch too). Since it seems impossible to do the family dinner and keep them on their bedtime routine, I would say go ahead and forget it for the weekdays. Can your husband get up and have breakfast with the kids before going to work? You could always make that your family meal together instead of dinner.

Good luck,

2 moms found this helpful

Well, I have a 3 & 4 year old. We have a snack at around 3:30 - 4:00. very light. Examples, fruit gummies, rice crispy bar, 10 smore crackers, 7 peanut butter crackers, handfull of raisins. Then at 6:00 we eat dinner the kids & me. Then I bathe them and get them in pj's. At 7-7:30 dad comes home and eats. We join him by having a small dessert. Usually, sliced pear, strawberries, 2 table spoons of pudding, tapioca, rarely but at times, i scoop ice cream or a cookie. They enjoy the extra treat and dad still gets the togetherness with the family. We then brush teeth, go to bathroom and get into bed. They go to bed aroun 8:00 to 8:30. This leaves dad & me 2 hours to ourselves. Dad & I get up at 5:45am and kids around 6:30-6:45am to start our day. This seems to work well for us and if dad gets home early, then we have dinner together. Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

It sounds like you may like many other parents have to resort to the seperate meals. Crock pots for you and your husband,there is also casserols that can be made ahead of time. Put half for the kids in one dish and the other half in one that can be started later that evening. With school starting etc. they do neet to get to sleep, have the weekends be for dad and the kids. Hard I know but that may be the only way to keep almost everyone happy and healthy. Been there with the military life and in and outs. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

A small light snack after school should be given... as far as dinner you can not help what time your husband gets home from work so I would just always have dinner for your children ready at a particular time like maybe 6: 30 so that sometime daddy will be home to join ya'll in dinner. and push bedtime back to 8:00. That way Dad gets to spend a little time with the children to. Your best thing is to talk to him about the kind of activity he gets them involved in when he gets home and suggest it be calmer activity. He may understand. If he does not then let him help with getting them to sleep if he does not already and he will begin to understand why the activities need to be calmer. I hope this helps a little I use to struggle with this to but I realized somethings are oput of my control and had to do what was best for mychildren and me and their daddy altogether

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This is a hard one because Dad probably cannot change his schedule. What if you have a healthy snack ready for after school. Our daughter prepared a beautiful plate of fruit for her children and any friends who came home with them. The trays I saw had strawberries and cantaloupe or bananas and apple or orange slices. And, grapes. Then, the girls could have their dinner with you sitting or eating with them at 5:15, take their baths and be ready when daddy comes home to sit at the table with you and him for sweet family time together. They could have a small pudding or glass of milk which would be a bedtime snack. After that, brush teeth, story time, and off to dreamland.
Sounds so easy on paper, doesn't it? You sound well organized enough to pull it off. Best wishes. B. K

1 mom found this helpful

In our house, Dad gets home after 9pm. We decided to start doing a big family breakfast, all at the table. Dinner is a little more loose. Then we did big "all at the table" dinner on weekends. It's a great way to start every day!

1 mom found this helpful

It's okay to give your girls a snack in the afternoon - make it a small / healthy one. Consider goldfish crackers, fresh fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, carrot sticks, etc.

If it is difficult to serve dinner and deal with bedtime within the same time during the week - you might want to consider serving dinner to the kids a little earlier and adjust bedtime to 7:30 so they can spend a little time with dad before bedtime. Then on the weekends you can sit down as a family during meal times.

AS your girls get older and involved in different activities dinner time / bed time will be challenge.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E. - YIKES! 7pm is a little early for bed ..... I think dinner together as a family is so important (if you can swing it) and you might not be able to do it for long. As the girls get older, they might have activities that could prevent everyone from being home at dinner time. Move their bedtime to 7:45 or 8pm and have dinner ready at 6:30 or 7pm so everyone can eat together! On the days that your husband gets home at 6:30, you might be able to get them to bed a little earlier!

Hello E.,

All the advices are really good. I would also give them a snack after school (a fruit, a yogurt etc...)

I wish also we could eat dinner together but it's impossible = our schedule is too crazy. My husband comes home between 7:30 & 8:00pm

I pick up my daughter from preK at 5:45pm (she is 2.5 YO). They usually have a snack at 3:00pm. By the time we go home, play a little bit, talk about the day, it's 6:30pm, time for her to eat. I sit with her, eating a small plate or I prepare dinner for my husband and I (she eats in the kitchen). Then bath, songs and/or book and then in bed at 7:30pm. If my husband is home, he'll spend some time with her reading a book and say goodnight...
Then, we both have dinner together, but pretty late, between 8:30pm & 9:00pm (it takes time to cook a good meal)

In the morning, he is the one who drops her at school so they can have some time together.

It is difficult for me because I too grew up with the habit of having our meals with my parents when my dad was home (he worked offshore) but we live different lives now.

However, I insist that on the weekends, we have all our meals together = lunch & dinner... Breakfast, it's a bit more difficult for my husband to get up early on the weekend.
For me, eating before 7:30pm is too early. My husband thinks it's a cultural thing. He is complaining about the fact we eat too late but I only have 2 arms... Anyway, it's another problem.

Good luck.

I dunno, we make bedtime at 8 just to make sure we can all eat together

Hi Karen,

Your first response was great advice but I have some suggestions also. I think you should stick with your regular bedtime routine, although I think it is a bit early, and serve dinner earlier somewhere between 4:30 - 5:30 and have the kids completely ready for bed by the time your husband comes home. Then he can heat up dinner and the kids can sit with him while he eats and they can have after dinner snack/dessert before going to bed say 7:30. They still get to spend quality time with dad without totally ruining their routine. You could also choose to eat with your husband or earlier with the kids.

Hi E.,
Looks like some good advice. I was in this situation not to long ago, but my children where 8 & 10. I recommend a snack after school. Then dinner at 6:00 pm. If possible let the littlest have her bath before dinner and the older child after dinner. I would eat with my kids, because best to eat early (best for digesting before bed). You can always wait and have desert with your husband after he has finished his meal. Kids reading in bed helps keep them calm and slightly sleepy. He can come in and read a story or spend a few moments with them. As Karen said, breakfast would also be a great family meal time. Best wishes.

I thought I put my kids to bed early ;) My kiddos are 4 and 1 and they go to bed at 7:30, I would suggest bumping bed time to 8 and eating dinner when daddy comes home at like 7:00 or 7:15. If it would ease transitioning from dinner to bed time, I would suggest having them bathed and in jammies before dinner. Your older child can have a snack when she gets home from school, maybe and apple or a bananna.

Good luck!

You have to do what works for your family and what you are comfortable with. What I have done is pushed my son's bedtime back to 9. He still gets up at the same time (7am), but takes a 3 hour nap. I give him a snack after school (yogurt, fruit, etc.) and then we eat together when my husband gets home. It also gives my hubby/son quality time to play, bathe, and then settle down for bed. He is awake and alert in the morning, he is just ready for a nap between noon and 1. I know one of your choldren is 6, so it may not work, but it is a thought.

My father came home around the same time my whole life.

We got a snack as soon as we got home.

We ate as a family at 7:00 p.m.

I, also, believe it is important to eat as a family. I think pushing the children's bed time back by an hour will not hurt their growth or sleep. Actually, I think by spending that hour with their father in the evening could help them grow and help you grow as a family.

I would have a talk with your husband about getting home on time so it will not make the kids bedtime any later. Also, I would really stress to him about the importance of getting home for 6:30 so he can unwind before dinner.

I have an 18 month old so I am not there yet but we will be there soon enough.

Is there any way your husband can come home an hour earlier? OR moving bedtime to 8:00??? My husband is also a late to home dad. I'm used to fixing my boys dinner around 5:30 - 6:00, because like your daughter is hungry after school. I'm trying serve dinner later so we can all eat as a family. It is a sacrafice I'm willing to make for the huge benefits down the line.

Nutrituous snack when they get home from school.
dinner at 7ish
Bedtime at 8 or 8ish whenever you can get through.
I would think 7 is too early to go to bed.
They need a snack when they get home and they need to see dad.
Is there anyway dad could aim to be home at 6:45? That would help too. He needs to try to make that a priority to be involved in their lives.

i give a snack and serve dinner about 620, when dad got home what ever time that is he can sit down and have dinner with everyone. or he can re heat it if he is late. your girls can be in there p.j.'s or ready to put them on right after and brush there teeth. i am supprised they go to bed at 7 i am assuming they get up very eairly. could you push there bed time back to 7 30 and see if they were grouchy the next day for about a week trial? this way they could see dad too. good luck.

I'm in the same boat though my daughter, who is 3, goes to bed by 8:30, so I have a little more latitude there.

Does your daughter have a snack when she gets home? You can definitely do a snack at 3-4 p.m. and not spoil dinner. My daughter loves watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes - all filling, but not too filling.

And then,yes, we compromise on family dinners every night. There's just no way for us to do it. So, we're sure to have full family dinners on weekends and at least twice during the week, but on the other nights, when my husband is working late, my daughter and I have "girls dinner" together. I think it's important to set the table and sit down together, regardless of whether the whole family can be there or not. It's letting it revert to a consistent dose of dinner in front of the tube that you don't want, but I think that if you do full family dinners enough, on a consistent basis, you're really doing fine.
For better or worse, times have changed since we were kids! And, in all honesty, until I changed jobs a year ago, I was often the one home late from work!
Best of luck,

Must feed the hungry ones when they get home or you'll have grouchville. i usually go for a heavier "snack" when my daughter gets home - yogurt, granola, & fruit or smoothie and half a PB&J. we'll then sit down to have dinner between 5-6. most of the time he can't join us, or catches the tail end of our meal. we just make sure to balance by having breakfast together and have every meal be a sit down meal on the weekends.

as for winding them down for bed - i try to get her ready for bed (teeth, jammies, bef turned down) before her dad gets home and make sure we are deep into wind down mode before her dad gets home. immersed in puzzles, reading books together or big pads of paper and crayons. get dad to join you in what they are already doing when he gets home.

lastly, if they are getting to bed that early, i assume that you start your day rather early, too. carve some family time out of your morning to compensate. :)

My husband usually gets home between 6 and 6:30pm. Before we moved here, it was 5:15 so this is a big change for us. I think it's important to have dinner together so I plan for dinner at about 6:15 and if dad isn't here by 6:30, we start without him. Because dinner is a bit late, the kids all have a snack/light meal when they get home from school to tide them over until dinner time.

Also--if Dad isn't getting home until 7pm, I'd push bed time back a bit so your girls have some time with Daddy.

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