I have 3. DC3 is 4 months, and inevitably awake from tea time onwards (4-5 pm). He's not especially settled, and trying to get the meal out and the children fed, even if I abandon eating myself, is a moderate nightmare most of the time with his crying. After teatime I have the gauntlet of tidying up and bath time to get though. My husband usually gets home around bath time/bed time.
I have a fabric sling, but his screaming in my ear usually makes me more angst. So far I keep resorting to putting the poor chap in the other room to scream for 5-10 mins whilst I get the tea out, then cuddling him til I get the others down and wiped, then either ordering the first two around like a demented sergeant major to tidy up or putting him in a different room again whilst I rush around tidying for 5 minutes.
What do you do? I feel like I am in a lose-lose situation. However easy I plan the evening it usually goes tits up. I am aware this says a lot about my reaction to his crying, it breaks me slightly each time to hear him yelling for a cuddle.
i would say persevere with the sling.... does he not settle at all in it? does he want feeding? or just cuddling? my second baby was much the same, at 4 months i used to sling him on my back while i made dinner, which was easier as i didn't have a baby in the way of my cooking lol
can the other children have a hot meal at lunch time instead? that way you could just do a quick tea in the evneing?
He's not hungry, I'm a monster for trying to feed him to settle! He just loves cuddles. Sling on the back is a good idea, he will settle in the fabric sling but it often takes 10-15 minutes now and he's really loud with his head so near to my ear, I can't hear the other two over him.
Hot meal at lunchtime, I think you are onto one there.
Agree with the above- definately try to give a larger/cooked meal at lunchtime then picnic tea/sandwiches for time being. You could prepare this earlier in the day if need be then bring out with fruit/ yoghurts etc.
My DD2 did get fractious at the same time and was always ready for bed around 6.30. Can you feed him while your other two are eating and leave the tidy until after they've gone to bed. If you have an extractor fan in the kitchen try using that in combo with sling.