Welcome back to The Parenting Panel! I LOVE learning from other parents and viewing the world through different perspectives. I started the panel in hopes that we can all come together as a parenting community, rather than continue to judge the choices other families make. There is not one right way to parent…NO ONE has all the answers and there is no catch-all solution that works for every family. We’re all different and we all wake up and try to do the best we can for our kids. Let’s learn from each other and see if we can take away any ideas or realizations from others’ experiences!
This week’s question isn’t controversial….isn’t cutting edge…It deals with a basic, everyday, “we all do it” experience….dinner. Everyone eats it, and I was curious what dinnertime looked like across the parenting sphere. Like with my Confessional , I want moms to KNOW that they are not alone…You’re not the only one who has kids that won’t eat. You’re not the only mom who feels like she spend all day in the kitchen. You’re not the only mom who sometimes serves food in front of the tv. We all live our lives and parent in the way that works for US. Take comfort from today’s panelists. Find ideas. Tuck a thought away to try out. Have fun and enjoy learning from other parents in all walks of life.
What does dinner time at your house look like? What would you like to change about the way you do it now? Include details….do you eat as a family, what are the kids doing, noise level, topics of conversation, one meal? a line cook? gourmet? fast food? Describe!
Who She Is: mom of three kids (5, 3, 10 months, and one coming in February!)
Response: The five of us eat together at the table almost every night. Especially now that my daughter is in school all day, it is nice to have that family time to re-connect and be together as a group. I love to cook, and am always on the lookout for the trifecta I talk about all the time in my Recipes section (cheap, easy, and the kids will eat it!) I refuse to make more than one meal, and my kids are learning to eat what they are given (and are trying new things in the process.) I try to have a few guaranteed winners each meal that I know they will like. We always pray together before we eat, and then attempt to talk about our day. Sometimes it can be a little hectic between coaxing the three year old into taking bites, breaking up food for the baby, getting milk, etc etc….One thing I would like to change is the stress level. Sometimes by that point of the day, it feels as though my husband and I are both “done.” I’d like to relax and enjoy the family meal more, rather than counting the minutes until bedtime or thinking about bath, homework, lunch packing, etc that will come afterwards.
Who He Is: Chasing Supermom’s better half and Dad of 3 (5, 3, 10 months, and one coming in February!)
Response: A lot of the time we eat dinner together as a family at the table. Most nights, the kids at least eat together at the table. A lot of the time we will just talk about whatever the kids are talking about. Of course, some of the time, our conversation revolves around “encouraging” our kids to eat their food, but much of the time it’s about random kid things.
And the food is always good, because I eat at the same table as Chasing Supermom!
Who She Is: Soon to be mama of 3 (4, 14 months, and one on the way!)
Response: Dinner is family time at our house. I try my best to have dinner ready and on the table by 6:30pm – we hold out as long as we can waiting on my husband (who arrives home anywhere between 6:30-7pm) I make one meal to be served for dinner and everyone is expected to eat what is served (IF I accidentally make it too spicy the kids are served an alternative, pb&j). I serve the food at the table and if the temperature of the food is hot, the kids’ plates are put in the refrigerator while we pray. The dinner conversation is usually each of us sharing about our day (the husband shares what happened at work, we discuss any really good things or problem areas, my son (4) is always included – and can always share a story about himself and his little sister (1)) We are currently working on my daughter (1) using utensils with dinner, signing more if she needs more of a beverage and NOT throwing food on the floor! The entire family is working on encouraging her and promoting her independence. My son is working on proper table manners and mastering our ‘before meals prayer’ (which is apparently a challenge!) Our actual menu changes often but we typically have a meat (chicken, beef, tuna, salmon, pork) with a vegetable and possibly potato/rice (unless its breakfast for dinner night!) I try to keep the noise level ‘restaurant appropriate’ when at the table, and that makes eating out as a family not an impossible task! At the moment my kids’ favorite meal is a simple roast in the crock pot all day with potatoes, carrots & onions!! The one thing I would love to change….we have already started to work on at meal times. I seem to be ‘nagging’ my son to eat his food instead of talking at the table, so he is learning to look at the clock and given an appropriate amount of time to eat the food on his plate – if he finishes in time he is rewarded with a treat after dinner, if not then nothing. The time ‘allotment’ varies depending on the food (a roast takes longer to chew than pasta and I’m trying to promote success and decrease nagging!) It took one night (the first night) of him not eating for him to learn, and he now tries hard to encourage his sister to also finish her food to be rewarded also!
Who She Is: mom of two teens!
Find Her: on Twitter @busybee76
Response: Dinner at our house is almost like a circus. With 2 teens, our schedule gets pretty busy and occasionally, my Husband isn’t home at dinner time. I try to cook when I can but sometimes it’s suddenly 6 o’clock and I realize I haven’t planned that nights dinner OR, I still haven’t shopped for the week so we end up ordering take out or delivery. When I do have time to cook, I’m doing it all plus handling whatever else is going on at that time; “MOM, I need this signed TODAY” or helping with homework, reminding them of their chores, etc. It’s always something! I serve everyone their meal and then I sit down. We don’t all eat at the table together and sometimes not all of us are home at dinner time. We used to all sit and eat together and play “High/Low” and discuss our day together.
I would LOVE to be more organized and plan my meals ahead of time and shop that way as well and I really want to get everyone back to the dinner table! It’s actually a personal goal I plan to start working on this Fall. I have started a new thing since the kids started school again. I have 2 folders, 1 for each of them with their name on them. Any papers they bring home from school, they put in their folder. At night I sit down and look through them & if anything needs to be signed, I sign it and leave it for them. It’s worked really well so far!
Who She Is: homeschooling mother of 2 (9 and 2), mother of a child with ADHD, SPD, and a peanut allergy
Response: In a word chaos. It really is, we don’t eat at the table, it’s always covered with school books, craft projects and science experiments. So we eat in the living room on TV trays.
The 9 yr old is a picky eater. He has SPD, reflux, food allergies, and ADHD. He was a picky eater before he was put on ADHD meds, and well the medication has him barely eating. So he doesn’t eat what I cook most nights. I try to make 3-4 meals a week I know he will eat part of, I’m also bribing him at the moment to try new foods. He gets 5 cents every time he tries something but only takes one bite, if he eats it all he gets $1. It’s working, last week he made $2.20. On night that he doesn’t like anything or isn’t willing to try , he is allowed to make himself a sandwich or cereal. The 2 yr old hasn’t really met a food she won’t eat. She eats everything and will try pretty much anything. The only thing she really doesn’t like is bread.
We are trying to eat healthier but it’s hard. We eat out way too much, and that has to change. Other than that it’s your typical meat, starch, veggie meal.
Who She Is: all-natural mama of 1 (17 months)
Find Her: chasesview.blogspot.com
Response: We eat at home almost every night with the occassional (one night a week or less) eating out. My daughter is 17 months and loves to be in the kitchen with me. This can be difficult if I’m using the oven or moving around a lot, so my husband usually plays with her to keep her out of my way. I prefer to eat at the table as a family (and if it’s cleaned off and not full of craft stuff, we do! If the table is a mess, we eat in the living room watching TV). Our topics of conversation are usually about our day. The only thing I have been trying to change about our dinner routine is how much time I spend in the kitchen. I’ve been experiementing with freezer cooking and making meals ahead of time so I am not in the kitchen so much, and I (or my hubby) can just pop something in the oven. It’s working out great so far!
Who She Is:Newlywed w/o children
Response: As newlyweds, we’re still getting into creating regular meal times together. My husband is a college student finishing up his degree this year, and I work from home as an online tutor, but the flexibility in our schedules makes it difficult for us to find consistency. As a result, many of the sit-down meals – usually dinner – we currently make on a regular basis have relatively short prep time and lack a bit in variety (most meals use ground turkey or beef, breads, salads, sandwiches, etc). What I would like to change the most about our mealtimes are implementing a consistent dinner time and adding in a larger variety of new and different entree or dessert recipes to the mix. I would also love to have more opportunities to bust out the crockpot! 🙂
Who She Is: natural and organic mom
Response: We eat dinner every night together as a family. We start with either a minute of meditation or by sharing with each other what we are grateful for about the day. Everyone is included in the conversation, so it’s not time for adult talk or family meetings, more just a way to connect as a family. We usually have 3 or 4 healthy things to choose from to eat and my 3 year-old may eat (or not eat) whatever she wants. I subscribe to the belief that if you offer your kids healthy food options they will eat it if they have no other choice! For example, my daughter’s favorite foods include salmon, beets, yams, eggs, and broccoli. When she gets antsy, usually after 15 minutes, she can excuse herself and leave the table. This all happens most nights. On a bad night, she refuses to eat dinner, food ends up sailing across the room, and we may end up with both a kid and a cat crawling on the table. This is an anomaly though, and I’ve found that sticking to our simple dinner routine keeps us all in check most nights.
Who She Is: Single mom of two
Response: We eat together at the dining room table, usually every meal. I usually dish up our food in the kitchen, then put it on the table. I would like to change the fact that my son refuses to eat unless the tv is on. We need to converse more at the table, and watch tv less.
Who She Is: mom of 3 (16, 13, and 9)
Response: Dinnertime for us is challenging during the school year with extracurricular activities and three children going different directions. We do our best to all be seated together for dinner each night even if that means we delay dinner beyond the normal time frame. We usually go around the table and talk about our day at school/work. I make one thing for dinner and if they don’t care for it they make themselves a sandwich or bowl of cereal. Now that they’re older they are more willing to try new things. On occasion we will order take out or run by the store and grab a rotisserie chicken and side dishes. But when I’m on top of my game, meals are planned ahead of time to avoid the last-minute expense of ordering out.
Who She Is: homeschooling mom of 4
Response: Dinner time at our house changes depending on the events of the week or the time of year. We are an active family of 6 and very involved in sports etc…. So most times I try to do simple meals that are healthy but quick to prepare and please most of my kids. I have some very picky eaters so we always have PB&J available for those that think they’re going to die if they have to eat it. I love dinner time because while we eat we are always talking and sharing about the events of the day. My husband and I love to ask the kids what their favorite part of the day was and their worst. The one thing we try to never forget however is to Thank Jesus for all that He has done for us and for the food He has provided.
If I could change anything about our dinner times I would love to have the time to prepare lavish meals that pleased EVERYONE. Oh and also have a magic wand that did all the dinner clean up (and a lot of other cleaning duties, but that’s for another time).
*Chasing Supermom does NOT tolerate negative/judgmental commenting. If you disagree with someone on the panel, that is great, and you are free to believe in what works for you….One reason I set up this panel was to allow people from differing points of view to express themselves. I disagree with several people on the panel on several issues…and love this. Bottom line: My blog is not a place of judgment. Every parent is free to be wholly themselves and true to their family and their children.