A guest post from the very funny What Mum Should Have Told Me:
‘Get your fingers out of the cat food young lady and don’t even think about putting them in your… Oh. They’re in your mouth. Wonderful.’
I had such high hopes about mealtimes before I had my children. I had dreams…variety, vitamins, hearty, wholesome, home-cooked. After 6 six years of torture, I throw my hands up and admit that teatime more often than not involves chasing my youngest across the length and breadth of the house, to get her to sit at the table; negotiating with my eldest about how much of his food he has to eat (before it even arrives) and my middle child, well, I lie to her. A lot. About the benefits of vegetables, who likes vegetables, even denying the presence of vegetables! When people ask: ‘What are your 3 like at eating?’ It feels disloyal to say
‘Dreadful. Atrocious. Mealtimes are a battle I constantly lose.’
I usually settle for ‘Erm, getting better, I think.’
In actual fact, even my crowd-pleasing everyone-loves-Mummy’s-spag-bol game face is starting to slip. If I ever get round to writing that cook book for the overtired and underappreciated parent of 3, it would look a lot like this:
– 500g beef mince (although you possibly picked up pork or lamb by accident whilst removing one of the children from a neighbouring stranger’s trolley – also fine) 2 small onions (hidden under a tea towel) 2 carrots 2 sticks of celery 4 mushrooms 1 jar of sauce (yes, seriously) 1 packet of spaghetti, or fusilli, or penne dependent on the will of the toddler) A truck full of cheese
– Optional: 5 pairs of hands 3 sets of eyes More patience than most normal people have A glass, actually, maybe a bottle – BOX of wine.
– Preparation time: 3 hours of self-motivation to actually get the ingredients out of the fridge, 1 hour preparation, 2 hours cooking time, remove from hob at the sound of the sauce hissing and stuck to the pan.
– Try to sneak into the kitchen after distracting children with a cartoon. Fail. Spend 15 minutes making the children wash their hands then the same amount of time cleaning up the reservoir they leave behind on the bathroom floor.
– Separate fighting children about whose chair goes where next to the counter and who will be responsible for which job.
– Peel vegetables then throw in the blender – as all ingredients have to be exactly the same size. Allow each child to turn on the blender once. Clean kitchen ceiling of diced vegetables after it becomes clear the lid wasn’t secured properly.
– Brown the mince in a pan with your elbows stuck out at 90 degree angles to avoid either of the small children ‘helping’ get too close to the pan. Distract children with a biscuit, throw in the onions when they are not looking.
– Quickly add the jar of sauce to hide further vegetable additions. Hide them – especially the mushrooms.
– Allow sauce to bubble whilst setting up a game of matching cards on the table for the children. Prepare grating the truck full of cheese. Prepare second truck load after the children eat the first truck load.
– Remove stray matching cards from the blender, dishwasher and eventually after a particularly good aim – the cooking pot.
– Prepare a pan of water for the spaghetti. Enquire about the type of preferred pasta with the toddler. Spend the next 15 minutes arguing that ‘they are all the same’ give up, throw all 3 types in the water.
– Chase the baby out of the cat food.
– Stir sauce, realise it’s now stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add water.
– Drain pasta, separate 3 different types of pasta and categorise to each child’s preference.
– Seat children. Re-seat children after argument about first seating arrangement. Remove second truck full of cheese after children begin eating it.
– Serve children. Lie about vegetables. Concede – allow them to leave the mushrooms if they agree to eat the carrots. Continue to lie about the onions. Never admit the onions.
– Remove baby’s dish from the floor. Apply more cheese – give back to baby.
– Spoon feed toddler who now has her head on the table in despair.
– Congratulate the boy on catching the baby’s dish on its second exit to the floor and for eating his food semi-sensibly. Chastise him for showing his toddler sister every chewed mouthful and growling at her.
– Get cat off the table.
– Eat remaining cheese. Realise most of the ‘eaten’ dinner is on the floor, and now being eaten by the cat.
– Go to fridge. Pour glass of wine. Drink.
Alison Langley is a mum of 3 in Cornwall who blogs at What Mum Should Have Told Me. She has recently given up her job as a secondary school teacher in the pursuit of something that can fit around the family; aspirations include getting her nonsensical writing published and doing something other than spending her days dreaming up new ways to convince her youngest daughter to eat broccoli and become a sensible human being (or at least stop growling at her siblings). She can be followed via Facebook or Twitter.
A huge thank you to Alison for contributing this hilarious post, think I’ll go straight for the bowl of cheese and box of wine tonight! If you are interested in guest posting for Big Trouble in Little Nappies you can read more about it here or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.