Dinner time is no easy feat for families with children. It starts the day they’re born when they sleep all day and then become colicky when it’s time for the parents to eat dinner. Then comes toddlerhood when they do everything with the food but eat it. Food is on the floor, the ceiling, in their hair and every crevice that’s impossible to clean but not in their mouths. Preschoolers aren’t much better; this is when they decide to assert their independence by saying, “I don’t like it.”
It’s no wonder parents wave the white flag and become short order cooks by making separate meals each night. One meal that ensures Child #1 will eat and another meal that Child #2 will eat, plus one for the parents. It feels like it takes three meals in one night for it to feel like a successful dinner.
Successful family dinners are not meant to please everyone. The reality is to plan and cook one well-balanced meal, regardless of your families response (rejection). Here’s how:
- Be authoritative and set the menu, allowing input from family members.
- Family-style meals, keeping it simple.
- Stick to the meal time structure, if the kids choose to pass on dinner remind them it is their choice not to eat.
- If your child chooses something else, have them make it themselves. Remember, being authoritative means you provide the what (nutritious foods), they choose the how much and whether not.
The more you accommodate personal preferences, the more unsuccessful mealtime becomes. The variety of meals shrinks and parents quickly fall into a rut. Parents who cater to each family member inadvertently create a meal time dichotomy of we eat this, and the kids eat that. If you’re finding yourself in this stressful situation then I highly recommend the following resource:
Fearless Feeding is a book about childhood nutrition that will calm and empower parents, provide step-by-step feeding guidance at every child development stage and teach parents the skills they need to get healthy meals on the table fast.
Go Strong Mamas!
BONUS: We love Gordon Ramsey’s YouTube channel, he’s generous with tips and advice as well as incredible recipes. Here’s a recent one where he shares some delicious lunch recipes for kids.