I’m not going to write this as an open letter to dinnertime because I realise that as more of a hellish entity than a person, it will not reply, thus furthering my rage and feelings of hopelessness towards it.
I’m just going to rant about it generally on here because I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. Let’s hope so anyway – misery loves company, right?
The bottom line of this whole sorry story is that I’ve come to dread dinner time – D.R.E.A.D it.
Breakfast is fine if a bit frantic, but thanks to wheat-based cereals and the kids being at their most rested, we rub along OK.
Lunch, I can also cope with as the four-year-old enjoys his usual sarnie quite untroubled, and though the same cannot be said of the one-year-old, I don’t have to stress about which foods might screw up his night’s sleep, so we get by with things like toast and baked beans and a fruit pouch. Would I prefer to be able to offer him a more extended repertoire than I do? Sure. Would I like him to not eye almost any piece of fresh fruit or vegetable with suspicion before hurling it angrily across the kitchen? You betcha. But I’ve tried and tried and we have our day to be getting on with, so as long as he eats something then I can roll with it.
Dinner, however, I hate. Dinner, with its thankless preparation time, its blended hidden vegetables seasoned with paprika and desperation. I have really reached my fill – if you’ll excuse the pun. Dinner is a dick.
My youngest boy, 15 months, has some mild stomach issues: trapped wind, constipation and I think some reflux or heartburn. We’ve finally been referred to paediatrics though, so shall await a miracle cure or at least some guidance. I think his terrible fussiness is probably related to the above and therefore understandable. However I’m now at the point where there are only about six things I know he will happily eat. Bread, pasta bolognaise, porridge, beans, hummus and banana*. I nearly cried last week when I did him spaghetti hoops expecting an easy win and he wouldn’t even try it. He was distressed, I was distressed – and unfairly annoyed I guess- but seriously dude, they’re spaghetti hoops, not mussels!
I used to be able to spread toast with sardines, avocado or egg but they have since been unilaterally rejected, as have any other offerings, new or old, except almond butter or jam. He’s also rocking a mild intolerance to dairy so that magnifies my worries about his insides rotting due to lack of essential vitamins.
My older son is a much better eater, loves fruit and reliably eats carrots, so that is great…
“But not onions or peppers, Mummy… or celery. And I HATE mushrooms, yuck!”
“And Mummy I don’t like potato when it’s wet, or mixed with stuff. And this isn’t normal chicken – [it is] – it’s stinky.”
“Ugh this beef is stringy and I think this dinner you made is a bit disgusting… can I have some toast?”
Every day I wonder what the hell I am going to cook that will tick the right boxes, i.e. something they will BOTH eat – I really don’t have the time or inclination to make separate meals – and something that is more varied and healthy than pasta on repeat.
It would be nice if it was also something my husband and I actually like, but that one has been pretty much factored out in the throes of meal prep hell.
I’m regularly torn between trying to up my game:
I’m just not making the right stuff!
If I try different things, I’m bound to have more success!
What is the point? What is the point in me carving out time that I do not have to frantically wash, chop, cook, mix, stir, monitor and serve anything other than fish fingers because THEY ARE NOT GOING TO EAT IT ANYWAY!
Many of the supermarket aisles are out of bounds either because of things I know they won’t eat, or things that they may occasionally eat if the planets are aligned, it isn’t a full moon and they’re not being whiney and annoying – but is it worth the risk?
I have had my hands burnt so many times and taking a gamble with courgette or mild curry paste has inevitably led to them both eating Shreddies for dinner, my patience and will torn to shreds and the home cooked meal looking sad and dejected on the table.
I sit beside them each evening, battle-scarred and weary; our witching hour in full swing as I wonder where I’ll find the strength to clean up the kitchen and do their bath. At the same time I am also attempting to shovel food down my own throat because the past evenings of my husband and me leisurely enjoying dinner together after their bedtime just don’t work anymore. (Non-sleeping babies, bedtime woes, needing an early night – you know the score.) So during any one meal I attempt to eat, I am up and down 547 (ish) times which is anything but leisurely and definitely not enjoyable.
Be it a spilt drink, a mid-dinner poo and bum wipe, or an angrily hurled spoon, there is always something. And while I’m sat down, I’m still reminding the four-year-old to get back into his seat, to actually eat, to stop dancing / climbing on the table / picking his nose. I’m rubbing the baby’s back because of an unexplained screaming fit, I’m warbling a tune to distract him enough to try his food, and I’m inevitably grabbing him something else because he’s so clearly hungry but unable to compromise.
The same staple meals every week are boring, but I’m beginning to think they are our only way forward and surely a lot less stressful.
Hopefully this is a phase rather than our permanent lives, and they are not going to actually rot inside. Eventually I will even get to chew my food before swallowing and spend an entire meal sitting down, I am sure. And there may even come a day where vegetables aren’t treated with such open hostility and salad doesn’t cause actual retching.
In the meantime, I suppose I should just stock up on baked beans and gin, and hope for the best…
*Not including crappy processed snacks like oaty bars, biscuits and crisps. He would eat those all day long if he could. Funny that.
Any tips to get me through dinnertime hell? Drop ’em below – I beg you! You can also find this on my Facebook Page.