Reality Bites – Mealtime meltdowns

This is a well-trodden blog post theme for me, the seemingly never-ending dramas that occur at the dinner table.  Friends tell me it gets better, as yet I have no evidence of that but as I rarely see a 17 year old have a meltdown tantrum when eating out I can only assume they are correct.  Instead of going on and on about my frustrations around the dinner table I thought I’d make a little list.  My top 5 dinner dramas….. here we go.

5. A relaxing meal out – an oxymoron if ever there was one. I physically tense up in restaurants with the kids and not because they are horrible generally.  I just find the potential for the horribleness to come out (which it does very ocassionally) enough to set my teeth on edge.  I want them to be able to sit at a table, eat nicely, not disturb others around them and let everyone enjoy they’re meal.  I feel like other are judging me and my parenting based on the behaviour of my children.  So is this paranoia or something based in reality?  Who knows?  But what I do know is how often I’ve heard (and even said before having my own children) the line “My children will never behave like that in public” – or some version of it.  There seems to be unrealistic expectations about how children should know to behave and it’s bad parenting if they don’t fit that criteria.

4. No soup for you me!  My kids hate soup, pretty much universally.  I love soup, I want to make soup, eat soup and enjoy soup without a complete break down ocurring as the bowls are put in front of them.  What’s worse, they too used to love soup.  What the hell changed?

3. Cutlery, it’s there for a reason.  Use it!  Your hands are disgusting.  But if you insist on using your hands DON’T TOUCH ME!  Granted Miss Five is a gun with a knife and fork these days, her sister,  not so much.

2. Chilli, pepper, spice, I miss you so!  This one is reserved for Miss Five only.  She can spot a crack of black pepper at fifty paces.  A minuscule amount of chilli will send her racing for the tap as though flames are about to shoot from her mouth.  A curry is just not going to happen, I’ve tried!  Miss Three loves a bit of spicy sauce, a grind of pepper or some spicy salami.  She’s a girl after both Mr Good and my hearts.  And while adding our own heat or spice to the end product is okay, it’s just not the same as cooking it into the dish.

1. I’M BORED!  That’s me talking, not the kids.  I’ve given up my usual wide variety of dishes and have started serving up the stock standard meals week in, week out.  Spaghetti bolognaise, tuna mornay, fish fingers/fish fillets and veggies, fried rice, grilled meat and salad, kebabs and rice, tacos.  I’m bored with it all, I’m bored cooking it and I sure am bored eating it.  The dramas are fewer but at the expense of anything particularly interesting to sit down to.  I do add a new recipe in there every now and again, but mostly it’s the same old, same old.

It also doesn’t help that at least half the nights of the week I eat with just the girls, so there’s not even some adult conversation to dull the pain of eating with whining, fussy, messy kids.  I have two saviours though when I think I’m going to snap.  Wine and TV – the wine for me, the TV for them.  I wouldn’t normally suggest letting your kids eat in front of the TV, but occasionally it does the trick, they eat and don’t complain about the food.

I’m linking up with Jess again this week.  Click here to check out her post (when it goes up).

In the meantime, tell you’re tricks for surviving mealtime dramas.

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6 Responses to Reality Bites – Mealtime meltdowns

  1. Wendy says:

    I am so hearing your pain. My kids are extra fussy with the end of year tireds. There’s a lot of baked potatoes happening at our place at the moment. And my hubby is out 5 nights, too. I manage two screen free nights but find the tv is a helpful companion the other three.

    Soup became popular here about a year ago (when they were 8&6). I’ve got a chicken udon recipe that shifted them over. Anything with noodles or pasta is a good starting point.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Yep, the end of the year has made meal times extra torturous. I wish I could do baked potatoes though – Miss Five flatly refuses all spuds unless they’re mashed or chips. Five nights a week solo feeding times is tough. I usually have three or four, but lately it’s been five nights a week too.

      I hope my kids follow suit and start to come around to soup sometime soon. Noodle soup is a great idea, I’m going to try that. I must admit they are most likely to eat your pea and ham soup out of any I’ve tried. Miss Five is meat fanatic, so soup with meat in it (I keep it pretty chunky) is less offensive than most apparently.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I should also add that on top of the no soup rule, Miss Three also does do meat if you have to actually chew it (lazy bugger!).

  2. I hear you re: restaurants. I get so paranoid and jumpy that I end up nagging and nagging and nagging. I’ve had good reason though. Last time I relaxed, one of my kids spat food at a stranger. They claimed the stranger was going to steal them. *sigh*

    Soup! Bloody soup! Pumpkin soup WAS a winter staple. Now I can occasionally get away with stoup (really thick and chunky soup or runny stew) but it’s still rare. I think it’s a textural thing for kids that when they reach between 3 and 5 they suddenly despise the stuff.

    The older 2 are getting there with cutlery but the youngest will lift it out, lick it clean, place it on the tray and then hands in. And I agree, youch me with your feral hands at your own peril! YUCK!

    My eldest will do spicy but then again I lived on a diet of peppermints for 6 months with him. The super hot ones. The other 2 will eat some mild spice but I finished both their pregnancies off with lots of Thai green curries (the heartburn afterwards was almost worse than labour itself!) so they’ve been indoctrinated with the spices early on. I have no idea if that’s it but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😉

    Sadly we are tv eaters and yes, it cuts down the whinging but it slows the eating to a crawl. Then I end up getting cross they’re eating so slowly (an hour to eat? I mean really?) so I guess we lose here either way.

    I have zero advice to offer but just wanted to let you know you’re so very much not alone. Take pity on me though as I don’t drink alcohol. I need me something else to numb the boredom of kids food too.

    P.S. Sausage casserole made with curry powder (flavour, no heat) for dinner tonight and it’s been a winner in the past. Yummo.

    • Barbara Good says:

      No wine! I’m impressed, I only have one glass and not every night (but most), but it helps. I think it’s because it reminds me I am actually an adult. Oh and I easily could have added the enormous amount of time it can take to finish a meal (tv or no tv!).
      I must try my Mum’s curried sausages, I think they might go for that.

  3. Liz says:

    I know the food is pretty ordinary, I know that I would have previously looked aghast at the idea of venturing inside one pre kids and I know they have pokies (which I detest) but a solution to the relaxing meal out issue might be Zagames (or similarly hideous pub type venue with indoor playground inside). A few girlfriends and I take the kids there on Fridays when our husbands/partners are working/out etc and the kids mostly play (occasionally stopping by the table for a mouthful of spag bol) while we drink wine, eat and chat. It works remarkably well and there are heaps of kids there so there is pretty much guaranteed to be one behaving worse than yours in attendance (probably mine…). Re: soup – to echo comments above; my 8 year old is a big soup fan (and is just starting to enjoy spice), so hopefully that will be your experience too. My 5 year old likes neither but who said he can’t eat a bowl of baked beans for dinner a couple of times a week (or as happens quite frequently – nothing), while we eat soup and curry.

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