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Christmas lunch with under-3s - AIBU?

(141 Posts)
GromitAndWallace Mon 09-Dec-13 10:12:06

Going to my parents for Christmas, various relatives coming including my DSis, who has 2 yr old twins. When my kids were this age I would give them their lunch 30mins before everyone else and then they could either sit in their high chairs at the table for a bit, get down and play round on the floor in the same room, or go for an afternoon nap if needed. It worked really well as they joined in with the adults but we also got the chance to sit around the table and eat the lovely meal my mum had worked hard to prepare.

last year, Dsis's twins then 18mo) ate at the table with us and it was mayhem. Not their fault, tinies are messy, grab stuff etc and I get that. But I don't think we all sat down at the table at the same time, the meal was really rushed because the DTs got bored and fractious and people kept jumping up to get them yoghurt / toys / clean up spills / move things on the table out of their grasp. Dsis and her DH ate on a rota while they managed the kids (sort of) and I felt bad for my mum whose efforts seemed to go unnoticed by some.

This year, the DT are 2.5yo so better but still very messy, bored quickly etc. I'd like to suggest the idea of them eating a bit earlier (easy to do sausages, potato, veg in advance for them and they're not bothered by turkey) but AIBU? I'm not suggesting banishing them to another room, just getting them started earlier so that everyone else has two hands free to eat their meal and sit down together. My DM agrees and has mentioned it to DSis vaguely but doesn't seem to be getting a positive response.... (they are not great at communicating)

NigellasLeftNostril Mon 09-Dec-13 10:35:36

oh yeh twins eating sausages on their own and the mother excluded from the family dinner cos she has to 'see to them'
sounds familiar actually, very English, its what my brothers new family did to me at his wedding.

GromitAndWallace Mon 09-Dec-13 10:35:59

thanks all. looks like IABU then. I don't mean they should eat by themselves, some of us would be with them, some would be helping DM in kitchen, or that they are banished elsewhere, just that last year they sat at the table for the whole meal, made tons of mess, grabbed at glasses, knives etc (all normal I know, had them this age myself!), stayed at the table while everyone else ate / leapt up / got them stuff / entertained them / helped Dsis and DH /cleared up the spillages.

There was no move to get them down from the table once they'd finished and were bored and I felt that my mum had gone to lots of effort for a meal that had been chaotic and rushed because no one else could talk owing to noise, interuppted conversation etc (I get that too, it's hard having a conversation for more than 30 seconds at a time with little ones around).

formerbabe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:38:13

I actually agree with the op. I like eating with my children now they are 3 and 5. I do not like eating with under 2s. It is stressful and messy for everyone.

Anydrinkwilldo Mon 09-Dec-13 10:38:25

That method worked for you. Maybe you Dsis tried that and it didn't work. My ds most definately wants to eat when we eat and nothing or no one will distract him from that. Leave the DTs poor parents alone, they're doing the best they can. They have 2 at a time to deal with-they're doing it as best they can.

(Ps is there anything worse than being told how to parent?!?)

Birdsgottafly Mon 09-Dec-13 10:38:35

Also I would like to know what you are going to do with two 2.5 year olds whilst you are all eating, if they don't want to sleep, I can't imagine that you would still be able to all sit at the table.

You are in danger of making your Dsis feel as though her children aren't welcome.

I wonder if your DM is just pacifying you by agreeing. What didn't happen that you wanted to? Is it reasonable given there are twins in the family (at an adorable age).

The twin boys my friend has are a similar age, they are a michevious tag team, but wonderful to be around.

CalamitouslyWrong Mon 09-Dec-13 10:38:51

I think it's sensible to expect the tone of a family Christmas meal to vary with the age of the different family members. Eating Christmas dinner with small children will necessarily be different from eating with just adults.

GromitAndWallace Mon 09-Dec-13 10:39:18

to clarify - 1. I did help with the DTs, and with my DM in the kitchen. I didn't sit and watch them eating on a rota basis, we all pretty much ate on a rota whilst around the table because we all leapt up and down to help / entertain etc. 2. Where have I suggested that their mum eats alone with them? I'm suggesting that they get started on their food sooner as they need constant supervision and any of us could help with that - it might be nicer for all the adults to get to eat their food together, hot, while the DT spoon in a yoghurt before playing on the floor in the same room.

mrsjay Mon 09-Dec-13 10:39:25

I just think the op wants her sil to have dinner when it is hot and for the twins to be able to toddle about if they are bored and nobody is worried if they have eaten etc etc , the whole world does not revolve around babies/children imo and if there is an easier way for all the family to be happy and be able to eat and have a conversation then why not give the kids something to eat a little bit earlier,

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 09-Dec-13 10:39:41

What time is the lunch?

There wil be time for all the conversation and a few drinks and cold cuts when kids go to bed surely?

christine44 Mon 09-Dec-13 10:40:09

Thats outrageous. I would be really cross if our kids were not welcome at the table on Christmas Day. I thought it was a day for family to be together rather than segregated
We all make a lot of effort for the big meal and it should be shared by all.

Gileswithachainsaw Mon 09-Dec-13 10:40:52

Doesn't sound like the eating time is the problem. It's the not letting them get down when they finish. They may well have learnt their lesson for this year

Anydrinkwilldo Mon 09-Dec-13 10:40:58

Also to add ever before there were children in my parents house that was a typical cam dinner, laughing shouting spillages up down to get drinks etc etc. I didn't realise that perfect dinner was so important. It's about having fun and spending time with family.

Tailtwister Mon 09-Dec-13 10:41:11

Maybe the thing to do would be to arrange the table a bit differently this year? Deliberately make the area where the DT's are sitting sparse with no glasses etc in grabbing distance. Make sure they are seated away from the 'business' end where all the hot food etc is being served. Put plastic mats down underneath their high chairs if carpet is an issue and their parents at either side of them. That way they can be part of the meal but not in the way of the comings and goings.

I agree that we would have found ours more of a problem if they had eaten before us. If they eat at the same time at least some of the time they would be occupied with their own food. We also used to run tag a bit with the youngsters, allowing their parents at least some time to enjoy their food.

Lastly, we found it easier if ours were properly hungry beforehand. It sounds obvious, but it's easy to have them snacking here and there on Christmas day and then not hungry for the meal. We would have some time inside playing with toys, but a good hour or two outside having a walk or playing with a ball. That way they were out of the way in the kitchen too.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:41:18

I still don't think you're being unreasonable, OP, even though other posters obviously think differently. Christmas dinner means nothing to tiny children, it's just food/something to play with. <shrugs>

Nobody talked of banishment, we'd never do that in our family but then we wouldn't expect such young children to want to sit up at a table. Depends on family relationships I suppose and sense of entitlement/expectation of parents.

mrsjay Mon 09-Dec-13 10:43:41

what Lyingwitch said really nobody wants to banish the children or not include the children

formerbabe Mon 09-Dec-13 10:43:52

The kids don't care really about Xmas dinner. I find it annoying to constantly have to stop eating/chatting to stop a toddler spilling things/pulling things off the table etc

mummybare Mon 09-Dec-13 10:45:10

Perhaps whoever is hosting (your DM?) could let them know that it's fine to let them down once they've finished? Perhaps they kept them at the table last year because they felt they had to for some reason?

Xmasbaby11 Mon 09-Dec-13 10:46:30

YABU. I think it's your DSIL's decision really. It's nice to eat together, even if they are messy and run off while everyone else is still eating.

I would say that in that case it has to be timed right for the twins as well, if that fits in with your family? It would be asking for trouble to serve dinner at 2 if they normally eat at 12ish followed by a nap.

DD is 2 and we have similar dilemmas - but I think as long as there is some relaxed adult time in the day, just embrace the chaos and help as much as you can.

mrsjay Mon 09-Dec-13 10:48:30

Xmas baby you are right it is their mums decision really to what she wants to do

ICameOnTheJitney Mon 09-Dec-13 10:48:42

YABVU who are you to dictate where her children eat? Families should eat together. I hate this "ditch the kids" attitude so many people in the UK have. No wonder so many kids can't behave at the table!

CoffeeTea103 Mon 09-Dec-13 10:51:17

Yanbu, it's fair for everyone to enjoy the dinner not only about the kids. We usually give the kids dinner around half an hour or earlier so that they're playing or napping while we get to enjoy a relaxing meal.
The kids do not know at that age about Xmas dinner.

lilyaldrin Mon 09-Dec-13 10:51:23

Wouldn't have occurred to me to have DS eat earlier than us at Christmas dinner confused I don't recall him causing a nuisance either - Christmas dinner is ideal for small children as it is all things they like!

I would just move anything breakable/spillable away from the children and let them get down as soon as they're finished.

ICameOnTheJitney Mon 09-Dec-13 10:52:51

Coffee why do the children stop people "enjoying" their dinner? confused They're not slimy little aliens...they're toddlers! Family!

MrsCakesPremonition Mon 09-Dec-13 10:54:54

I'd just suggest that the children's seats are positioned so that they can hop up and down, find some toys, watch a bit of TV etc. easily - without making everyone else hop up and down to let them in and out.

Only1scoop Mon 09-Dec-13 10:55:30

They are older now so probably will be much easier. It wouldn't have occurred to me to do that. Dd has always eaten at the table with us and other than the inevitable spillages no great drama. It would annoy me more the running / crawling around whilst everyone else seated and eating.

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