Oh yes, you know that dinner is a daily battle. I even wrote about the Sh*t I Say at the Dinner Table, a humorous way to look at the struggles we as parents go thru at mealtime. All giggling aside, it’s a battlefield out there.
So Thursday night was a battle of a different kind. I sent not 1 but 2 kids to bed with (almost) no dinner. It’s worth noting that the stew in question is in fact a tested dish that the kids have eaten before with no complaint. It stands to reason that they would eat it again. After I put the kids to bed and cleaned up the untouched bowls of food I posted about it on my Facebook page and I got some great responses from fellow moms who struggle as well. The majority of responses were from moms who say they would never send their kids to bed without dinner.
Here’s my take on Battlefield: Dinner
I am not a short order cook. There are 6 people (7 counting the nannies we’ve employed over the past 5 years) to feed and if I tried to accommodate everyones preferences I would be cooking for 3 hours everyday!
Once upon a time when Brigette and Stella were small(er) I used to cook what I wanted to eat and called it the “grown-up” dinner and then I’d make a “kid-friendly” meal that guaranteed a successful dinner hour. But as the weeks and months went by and I was constantly cooking 2 meals for dinner I realized that the “kid-friendly” meals were becoming less and less healthy and I was wasting more and more time and money on doubling the dinners. I feared that I was creating children who had the expectation that meals would always be catered to them and thus a picky eater. The madness had to stop.
Why can’t we all eat the same meals?
I started meal planning. I chose meals that I knew would have the best chance of success and then I sprinkled in some experiments to keep life interesting. Sometimes the experiments were a success and others, not so much. Now that we have 4 kids, I do my best to plan meals that both grown ups and kids will enjoy. I make meatballs, stir fry, lasagna, hearty soups and pizza fridays and everyone seems happy. I’ve posted some of our biggest hits HERE if you want to see what works for us.
So what went wrong? I’m getting to that.
I solved my money and time sucking dilemma and I taught my kids that the dinner on the table is the only thing on the menu. Everyone eats the same thing, take it or leave it. So what do you do when one of them digs their heels in and says they don’t want to eat the food presented to them? Here are my simple dinner time rules.
I believe that if kids are hungry, they will eat.
No toys at the table. (This goes for mommy and daddy too)
Everyone at the table eats the same thing. Peer pressure works in my favour.
You can’t sit down, look at the meal and state that you don’t like it if you haven’t even tried it.
Minimum required bites for any meal is 3. Please, just try it.
Regardless of how many bites you eat, you must finish your milk.
If it is a special occasion where dessert is an option, you don’t have to “finish” your dinner to get dessert but you do have to make a visible effort.
Don’t pick the cheese off the top!
Be grateful that there is food.
I read in some parenting book that it’s a parents job to offer healthy food to their children at meal times and it’s the child’s job to decide how much of that food they want to eat. In looking for this quote on the internet I stumbled on this list of 11 Thoughts and Strategies for Dealing with Picky Eaters. I was pleased to see that a lot of what I do was right there.
It might sound harsh or cruel to have sent the twins to bed with very little dinner in their bellies but I still stand by my dinner time rules. I believe that these strategies have cultivated Stella (Abby & Hilary) to love sushi, Brigette (Abby & Hilary) to love quiche, Abby (Hilary & Stella) to love green smoothies and Hilary (Abby & Stella) to love liver pate. I’m finding that as they get older they’re more curious to try different things and there’s less “battling”.
I promise that I won’t let them starve to death!
So? What’s for dinner tonight?
Author comments are in a darker gray color for you to easily identify the posts author in the comments