I cook at all different times of the day, depending on our schedule and our meal plan. If I actually have to cook between 5:00-6:00pm, actually stand at the stove and pay attention, that’s just asking for trouble. When my twins were younger, I’d just plop them in the high chairs and give them a bunch of something–either Cheerios or other finger foods or just toys–to keep them busy. Now that they’re older, I occupy them at the table where they’re within eyesight and can talk to me. Often I give them a pile of magazines and a task: Find and cut out 5 different animals and glue them down on a piece of paper. Sometimes it’s letter of the alphabet, or colors, but it’s one of the only ways to keep them out from under my feet in the kitchen and engaged, let alone supervised.
Since the kids have been wanting to spend afternoons and evenings outside with the nice weather, I’ve been trying to do more cooking in the morning. The crockpot is key here; it’s one of the reasons I’m trying so many new recipes lately. I also like to make something simple like a pasta salad that can stay in the fridge all day until we’re ready to eat it. When I’m really on top of things, I’ll cook extra on the weekends, like a second pan of Pesto Shells or Manicotti, and then it’s easy to take it right out of the freezer and let it bake while we’re out riding bikes.