Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Disaster that is Dinnertime

File this one under: Things I said I would never do before I became a parent.

I will not be a short-order cook. I will not have picky eaters for children. I will not cook only kid-friendly meals. I will not let my kids watch TV during mealtime.  I will not....

You get the point. I have now broken all of these in the last week.

Over the past few weeks our meal times, specifically dinner time, has turned into something that my husband and I can hardly believe we are actually living.  Like, in real life.  It is something we smugly thought, prior to kids, that we would NEVER have to experience.  Because we would not allow our children to do behave in such ways.

Our precious little cherubs, you see, have apparently been conspiring to turn our dinner time into one of the most stressful, chaotic, and dreaded parts of the day complete with more whining, crying, and screaming than should exist in an entire day let alone one meal. 

CJ has always been a child we had to convince to eat.  He has hungry days and then no appetite for weeks.  It took a while to be ok with this fact but we did eventually get over it and stop trying to actively shove food down this throat.  Lately, however, he is skipping meals altogether rather than his normal 5 or 6 bites.  And so the desire to shove said food has resumed.

EM has been the complete opposite of CJ when it comes to eating and appetite.  (As she is turning out to be in most things when compared to her brother.)  Let's just say that when she started eating solid food around 9 months, she found a new best friend.  She has been known also, after consuming her meal, to finish what is remaining on her brother's plate.  Meal times have had to revolve around this girl's appetite, because when she is hungry, you better have that food ready. 

So lately, as I already mentioned, CJ has been actually refusing dinner. We decided that, fine, he can just go play while we eat and no food for him.  Three days later of this and sister jumped on that bandwagon: if brother isn't going to sit and eat then neither is she.  And there goes our one good eater.  Now we have had about a week of basically forcing two kids to sit and eat their (child-friendly) dinners.  I think the most consumed by either has been 3-4 bites. 

And, they are hungry.  Because around 7:30/8 pm, right before bedtime, both of them start demanding snacks.  And that is just not gonna fly around here. 

Last night, neither kid wanted to sit but both were a cranky mess and definitely needed to eat.  CJ ended up on my lap eating which was totally working until EM got jealous because she was not also on my lap.  A mini-temper tantrum ensued and voila, sister ended up on one leg and brother on the other.  Neither wanted Daddy's lap.  (Lucky Daddy.)  I felt I had reached a new low.  BUT, they both ate their dinners.

Tonight, I tried a few new methods.  Methods I don't feel my mother would approve of but I have reached the point of "whatever works."  First, we all took bites together.  This was met with enthusiasm and both kids loved it. Score.  EM was allowed to stand, in her highchair, while eating.  But she was eating.  CJ, meanwhile, enjoyed a game of take one bite for each finger on my hand and I will have no fingers left to tickle you with.  In the end, about 3/4 of both dinners were consumed and I am happy with that. 

I need a longer term fix however.  We need to get our mealtimes back on track because we cannot exist like this. It's just not fun.  And, I am not creative enough to keep coming up with new games to get these kids to eat.

What do your mealtimes look like?  Any suggestions to get us back on track?  Up until recently, we have always been so proud of our ability to pull together a family dinner time most days of the week.
Definitely breaking some rules here but she's eating!

1 comment:

  1. Oh man! Misery LOVES company - glad to see I'm not the only one who loses the dinner battle. . . I hate to admit it but we usually end up bribing Nix. He gets 5-10 min of iPad story time if he eats at least 1/2 of his dinner. . . Little does he know that the iPad stories are actually a break for me! lol They have an autoplay feature that reads to him, so I get a break =)

    Lucky dad! lol - my fav part