|Our two big kids making DIY pizzas: The oldest ate it and|
loved it. The middle-child didn't even touch it.
From weekly menu-boards, to the "you'll eat what I cook" mentality, I've tried just about everything over the last month to "simplify" our family's dinner routine. But, today, I'm waving the white flag and surrendering to the reality that what might work for some families, doesn't work for mine.
Here's the deal. We have three kids at very different ages: An elementary-school child (age 7), a pre-schooler (age 2.5), and an infant (6 months old). Our oldest is a former "nothing on my plate can touch" kid, who is just starting to try a pretty extensive variety of new foods (yay!). Our almost 3-year-old is your typical "picky-eater", who has stubbornly refused to eat the lunch served at his school over the past month, even when he knows there isn't another option. And our baby is just starting to eat pureed foods.
I feel like I've done a pretty damn good job over the last 7 years, making sure my kids have a fresh fruit with their breakfast, and a fruit and vegetable with their lunch and dinner. However, I recently fell victim to the objectionable "Mom Guilt" and feelings of defeat, when I somehow became the short-order cook that I said I'd never become. Seriously, these short-term feelings of inadequacy, paired with seeing other kids actually eat what the rest of their family ate, literally turned me into a crazed mom on a mission.
The mission: Creating a "weekly dinner-menu board" and sticking to the rule that our kids would eat what I cook, or they go to bed hungry. Because they won't actually "starve", and they'll eat when they're hungry, right?! Well, not only did dinner turn into even MORE of a sh*t-show than it was BEFORE I implemented my revolutionary routine, I spent my evenings feeling stressed out and guilty about sending my kids to bed hungry (as if bedtime with three kids isn't stressful enough).
Well, I'm walking away from my mediocre attempt at the role of "The Beast" at dinner time.
I mean, seriously.
Sometimes it's just easier to pop a hotdog in the microwave for the 2.5-year-old, let the 7-year-old make her own dinner, and pop open a jar of baby food for the bubs. Most of the time I walk away from these kinds of meals, feeling a lot less defeated, and stress-free (especially when I have a glass of wine in hand). My kids' bellies are full, they've all had a fruit and a veg, and everyone is genuinely happy (...until the bedtime routine starts - dun, dun, DUUUUUNNNN...).
While I'd love to sit here and tell you that we eat dinner as a family every night... We don't. Papa Saigh has a job that requires him to travel often, and our oldest has dance and gymnastics three nights a week. I work part-time (mostly from home), and sometimes need to hand over the parenting duties to the hubs when he walks in the door so I can get an hour of work done before we start bedtime. We're often eating meals on-the-go, which requires some advanced prep and planning. And let's be honest, sometimes throwing a frozen pizza on the Pizazz for mom and dad, and making the kids PB&J is just easier (and comforting).
At the beginning of the school year, I started sending our two big kids to school each day without a packed "home lunch", giving them no other option than to simply eat what is served at school. Both of their schools serve, what I consider to be, wholesome lunches that I've seen other kids gobble up in minutes. While the second-grader comes home almost every day telling us how she tried something new for lunch (and liked it!), the preschooler won't touch (let alone, try) the main course, and will only eat the fruit and drink his milk. Yesterday, I decided to pack a healthy home-lunch for him, and his teacher said he was so happy actually be EATING with his friends, and he ate everything in his lunch box. AND, he told the teacher that he had to pee (before going in his pull-up) on the potty, and even pooped on the potty at home. We have had little to no success when it comes to potty-training our middle child, so this was a big win.
Bottom line, I'm going back to the basics and following the Golden Rule of Parenthood: "Do what works best for you". Props to all the moms who make one meal for everyone, and have the strength to send their kids to bed hungry if they don't eat what's served. To the mom who lets her kids make their own dinner if they don't like what's served: Good for you! And a cyber high-five to the mom who tossed a granola bar and a Go-Gurt to her kid in the back seat for a quick dinner before soccer practice last night.
If you made it till bedtime, you're winning. And if you didn't?! Well, there's always tomorrow.