Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Dinnertime debacle - please help!

There are only 3 rules around eating dinner at our place. You sit at the table, you don't play with toys and you must TRY everything on your plate. You'd think it would be pretty easy to have an amicable meal time, wouldn't you?

A typical nightly meal at our place goes something like this:

Nugget (5 years) sits at the table and picks at his food, all the while saying "I don't like it" and pulling out all the green coloured vegetables (except peas which he, thankfully could eat until the cows come home). Invariably he bargains with me over the number of mouthfuls he will ingest and, on a bad day, I end up feeding him (because of Mother's Guilt and his low BMI).

Doo Dah (3.5 years) rarely complains about the food and will eat pretty much anything but refuses to sit down at the table. He gets up umpteen times, races around the house in various stages of undress carrying food and dodging my advances and eventually I end up yelling at him and threatening to cut of his legs (not really but you know what I mean?).

Dew Drop (19 months) will eat everything and is quite pleasant about it. He is, however, the messiest eater in the world and manages to get his food all over himself, the table and the floor. He is also influenced by his nomadic older brother and, if my eyes stray for a minute from my watchtower, he has been known to race around the house giggling and dropping food ALL OVER THE PLACE! Argh

The Minx (19 months) sits, eats, smiles and then, cleans up after herself. She is the pin-up girl for fantastic dinner guests. More like her in my next life please!

All in all, it is an absolute debacle and is slowly driving me mad. Please, dear readers, I call upon you for advice and ideas on how to tame the beast that is our dinnertime. Surely there must be something I can do?

PS: If you could please come over and fold my washing (as seen in the background of the photo above) I'd be most appreciative?


Tennessee Mom said...

I have a similar dilemma. The husband takes his food and eats either in front of the TV or computer. The son wants to be with him so refuses to sit at the table and eats on the couch or the floor of his office. So there's no telling where I'll find the crumbs anywhere along the path between the kitchen and those two destinations.

The only time we have a "sit-down" meal is when company comes over or we go out to eat. *sighs*

life in a pink fibro said...

I've got nothing. Mr6 sits and eats pretty much everything slowly and methodically, trying everything, and even eating the small amount of pumpkin he's occasionally served up (though not without threats).

Mr3 is a nightmare. He cheerfully admits that the only thing he likes me to cook is "chips" and is also nomadic - wandering around, taking off his clothes, breaking into song and dance. He drives me CRAZY. But at least he mostly eats on his own now - up until a few months ago, he'd only eat if we hand-fed him. CRAZY I tell you.

Maxabella said...

If they don't sit down, they don't eat.

Jess said...

I cant speak from experience as I only have one toddler but I am with Maxabella on this one..

Maybe introducing some fun and interesting dinner time rituals for everyone as well as some new 'rules' might work? I could be being optomistic though... worth a shot maybe?

Gill@OurParklife said...

i don't know how you do it! we have one toddler and one 8 month old and it is a hard enough time with the two of them

like maxabella and jess, we do the no sit,no eat rule....but i must admit i often struggle with it in my head, worrying about them not eating....but i still stick to it adamantly!
(with my toddler, not so much my 8 month old)

will let you know in about ten years if it was the right thing to do!

Asashia said...

So sorry I don't have any advice. Little Bit still sits in a high chair so he's pretty much confined. There are days when he is finished, in his mind, in 5 minutes. Then I worry about him not getting enough but at least he got something. I do like Jess' idea about developing rituals to maybe help. Let them help prepare dinner so that they feel invested in it. Let them help set the table or ring a dinner bell. Or maybe even set a timer and stating that you want them to sit and eat for at least that long. Maybe they'll get caught up in eating that they won't notice?
Sorry, nothing I have is proven, just some thoughts.

Bubby Makes Three said...

dinnertime.... shudder. I have only one 19 month-old at the mo (another on the way ) and we dont even attempt to eat together. She eats at 5 and its a battle to rival a world war. Not to mention a cleaning disaster zone. I need to mop the floor (and her, and myself) after every meal!! Does it get easier?!

Lori @ RRSAHM said...

Finally catching up with all the posts in my Google reader! To be honest, I have both kids strapped into high chairs. Hehe. Bad mummy!!

LJ said...

Oh, this sounds familiar. I have a 3 year old who is very fussy...and an 18 month old who will eat pretty good, but is very very messy and very naughty (throwing food off her high chair, tipping water out, etc).

Our dinner time is getting better - relatively calm and not stressful. I started by not giving the kids anything to eat after 4pm at night, that way they build up an appetite.

I also have the rule, once the kids are about 2... what I dish up...they eat. If they don't want it...they go to bed hungry. i will always put something on the plate I KNOW they will eat, just so there is something in their tummy.

I also apply the rule that if they don't sit up at the table and use their manners, I will take away their food and they don't eat. They can leave the table.

Granted, I only have two kids...but it seems to be working for me.

MultipleMum said...

Asashia - thanks for the timer idea (I haven't used that before. Trust the Practical Mom to come up with something so, well, practical!

LJ and Gill - we also do the 'go hungry if you don't want to eat it' rule (add that to the earlier list) but I, like you have a little worry at the back of my heart when they take me up on it!

Tennesee Mom - I feel that may become our future. I will continue to work on the 'family meal' concept. We did it as kids and it is a really fond memory of mine :) Good luck!

Lori- if I could strap those babies in to the high chairs, I would. We use the Ikea ones and they aren't great from a safety perspective. They won't stay sitting down and then they attempt to climb out. It is way too scary!

And Baby makes three - Easier? Not in my experience. Life was so much easier when they were babies, sitting in high chairs, opening their mouths to be fed their home-made pureed meat and vegies. I could feed them healthy food, they didn't complain and it all took all of 5 minutes (except the preparation, which kinda sucked). Maybe others would have a different perspective though?

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