Before children, I thought emptying a jar of sauce into a pot was ”cooking” and popping food which came from a box into the oven was ”fine dining”. I once put a baguette into a microwave when it clearly said oven and nearly burned the apartment I was living in down.
Once I took on the mother role, I put the past behind me and I have become a fairly decent chef, if I do say so myself. I make things from scratch and I can be trusted to feed my family of five….if they will eat!
Now my greatest daily challenge is the mealtime madness. I will be more specific, the supper meltdown. When we give birth to these beautiful creatures they are handed to us hungry and we do our duty and feed them be it breast or bottle. They are ravenous and a regular pattern develops quiet quickly. We start them on solids which is nerve wracking but they generally eat what their given, generally. Then at around the eighteen month mark, it all starts to go a little “pear” shaped.
A bar has a” happy hour”, in my house supper time is the “unhappy hour”. There have been occasions when both sides have been close to tears at “The Battle of the Belly”. It’s a case of the bib versus the straight-jacket.
We all know Gordon Ramsey right? He is a world famous Michelin starred chef, restaurant owner and T.V. personality. We watch him on Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef. As I tear my hair out trying to get my kids to eat their supper I have often thought of setting Gordon with the greatest challenge of his career yet, a T.V. show whereby he must feed this difficult age group. Gordon, are you ready?
I cope with breakfast and lunch but supper oh supper, that word has greyed my hair and left me bleary eyed. The only thing that keeps me together is that my husband has a fabulous appetite and yes, he eats his supper. There are days when I feel totally deflated, I can’t keep up with the expectations as my role encompasses so many aspects. I am personal shopper, cook, server, kitchen porter, cleaner and complaints manager to name but a few. The thing that really gets me is that I serve very tough diners who don’t even tip!!!!!
The top 8 challenges at mealtimes
1. What To Feed My Little Ones
I try my hardest. I have bought the cookbooks aimed at the little people. I try to buy the best of ingredients. I aim to choose a variety of meals. I have spent a lot of time chopping and cooking and yet there are no guarantees they will eat my creations. I have often picked random recipes from my cookbook and done all of the above and they have refused all of them.
I am very concerned that my oldest will one day turn into pasta and cheese. What do you do when all your kids have very different tastes and most certainly do not like the same thing? Of late I am pleased to announce that there are a couple of meals which they will all eat together. A slice of heaven for this momma.
I have worked hard to create home-made meals for my kids. The alternative is to buy the ready-made chicken nuggets, fish sticks etc. Why is it that they tend to prefer the latter option? I think my kids think that home-made is from the same family as poison.
2. The Plain And Simple Refusal
Does “I don’t want” or “I don’t like” sound familiar? They haven’t actually tasted what is in front of them but on pure visuals they have decided firmly it’s a no. Hmmm ok so I don’t like the look of prawns and will never eat them, is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? My daughter’s logic to refusal of things she doesn’t like is “nobody likes the same thing”. Did I say this to her one time, distracted, did I give her this ammunition, her own goal? She recently told a friend she loves cucumber, really, cucumber, she had never had cucumber. I dutifully purchased this beautiful green vegetable for her and let’s just say we wasted that cucumber. She does not like cucumber. On a positive note, she did try a minute bit.
3. The Mess
I think I could write a novel on this point alone. Why does clean up takes the longest amount of time? You can almost guarantee if you have mopped your floors there will be a spillage within 12-24 hours. My life would be easier if milk or juice could clean my floors, probably wouldn’t be too good for the kids, perhaps strike that idea. In my house there is a clear division of where food goes:
Wow, I am
feeling like a mathematical genius. In
our house, it is very common for the table and chairs to be covered in sticky
handprints, sometimes for longer than they should. It is not only the top of the table and
chairs which they attack but also the legs.
The hands versus cutlery dilemma. When we had our first child, it was definitely the latter. Third child and the hands rule. My little guy can feed himself whatever way he likes, in some respects sanity is more important than cleanliness and table etiquette. He will learn…..in time.
Going back to table etiquette, what is the deal with blatantly pooping at the table, I know you are only a year old but c’mon.
Over the years there have been so many occasions where my children have literally wore their food. My middle child in particular. His head has been covered in fish pie. His face smeared with chocolate. His hair turned orange one day – bean sauce being the culprit. My youngest took his socks off at the table the other day and popped them into his beans for flavouring. What is it about beans?
Oh and then there is Weetabix. Have you experienced the Weetabix sneeze? You deserve a gold medal if you have managed to avoid this one. The Weetabix sneeze requirements are a child, a bowl of Weetabix and of course a sneeze. Basically, you have just gotten a spoonful of this sticky cereal to your child’s mouth and they sneeze. This sticky sneeze splatters both parent and child. I have been caught out so many times. There should be a law against it.
I have even worn some of my kid’s food, new fashion statement? I am sticking to that one, god I love a pun. You are just about to leave the house, hair standing (as usual), hopefully properly dressed, and look down and there is some concoction on your leggings. No time to change!
I have played the old” get them involved” card. We pop on our aprons and chef hats (pull out all the stops). Recently we made a batch of scones and they were happy to help but had no interest in them once cooked. Have you ever noticed that our little people love “pretend” food, love “pretend” eating but give them the real deal and all hell breaks loose?
5. Getting Creative
Do you make animal noises to get food from table to mouth? You have got to get creative in order to get some of the good stuff into their bellies. Last Christmas my then 2 year old had zilch interest in eating dinner and I was at my wits end. He is slight in stature and I was afraid he would waste away. My kids enjoy watching Dora. My husband used one of the characters from Dora, Swiper the Fox, and said to our son “if you don’t eat your supper, swiper will get it” and it worked. It can still work now. Who knew?
6. Hiding Places
“I am finished” they bellow. I shake them down. Check under plates and booster seats to ensure they are actually finished. They think they can fool this clever Momma.
7. Dining out
Sometimes for the sake of sanity you have to leave the ranch and get fed and watered elsewhere. I have had various different experiences of eating out with our kids. Nowadays the family friendly restaurants have good kid’s menus and provide entertainment in the form of crayons and paper. We’ve had successful meals and not so successful meals. If the food takes too long, no amount of colouring will help. Boredom sets in. Food arrives and it is being fired on the table and floor. When we go out we are generally given a nice quiet corner as far away from regular folk as possible.
I have also taken our kids to a restaurant where my daughter’s (then aged two) apple juice arrived in a glass tumbler. We didn’t go back there again.
8. The sweet stuff
Isn’t it funny the way they will point blank refuse a good wholesome vegetable, however, will open their mouths so wide you can see their tonsils at the sight of ice-cream! Is chocolate covered broccoli a thing of my future?
to becoming a Mom I would never ever had bribed someone to do something for
me. Then I had kids and it is bribery to
the last mouthful or whatever amount of spoonful’s I have negotiated.
We were lucky enough to go to Mexico on an all-inclusive package this year. I loved the sun, weather, beach, people but my favourite part was I didn’t need to cook for seven days and I didn’t hold a sweeping brush.
I have wrote this blog drawing from my own experiences, those of you whose kids EAT with perfect table manners and whose washing machine is not constantly on, I commend and envy you.
There are two things I say on a daily basis
- Never a dull moment in this
- Keep Sane.