I have struggled for YEARS, especially the last two, with making dinner because it's so chaotic during that time of night when I need to be cooking. Since about Christmas, I've been making freezer meals, and that has helped, but I'm back to the same old problem once the freezer meals run out. However, I've realized my kids lately LOVE to play on the computer. I do let them, but I feel like a horrible mom because I let them. I realized being the mom, though, I can make this computer thing work for me.
I really prefer the kids play no more than 30 minutes on a school night on the computer (but believe me, they've gotten waaaay more than that at times), so I thought, why don't I make them earn their computer time by playing with the two-year old? So, the last couple afternoons/evenings, I've said, you can have 30 minutes of computer time IF you will play with your little sister for 15 minutes. Then, if you want more computer time, you can earn more minute for minute.
I even let the kids go into debt with computer time: they can get on the computer for 30 minutes right after school because I need them shortly after that during cooking time. The timing is actually not as helpful if they tend first. There are advantages to having your kids in debt to you, I've learned. (I begin to wonder the parallels of having your own kids in debt to you just as we are all indebted to our Heavenly Father and Savior).
I cannot tell you how much less stressful my evenings have been because the older kids are playing with the two year old. The bonus is that our 8-year old daughter is especially enjoying it and is tending extra time, and has said twice now it is the highlight of her day! Even our 10-year old son has tended extra because he's having fun.
I'm really grateful to have figured this out and hope it lasts.