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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)

Catsize Thu 12-Dec-13 07:25:15

Oh my word. YABVU.
And I would be very hurt by your suggestion. People with small children ar meal tab,es are usually self-conscious enough, without this kind of segregation for Christmas dinner! We are dreading Christmas Eve lunch with our family in a posh pub as our toddler is an explorer, whereas his cousin is 'good' and sits in his highchair for hours. We know we are judged for this, but the alternative of forced restraint is worse for others.

hairymonkey Thu 12-Dec-13 06:19:40

This is why a lot of kids in the U.K have difficulty behaving at the table, they need to be included so as to learn how to behave.

Alternatively, you could have your lunch half an hour earlier so you could be on hand to help with the kids?

lillibet1 Wed 11-Dec-13 20:42:25


Fleta Wed 11-Dec-13 10:55:27

I'm pretty amazed at all the suggestions that children throw food/cause a disturbance etc.

My DD is 7. She has been eating out with us since she was 3 weeks old. She has never thrown food/been a messy eater. She has learnt beautiful table manners because we encourage her to participate in meals rather than being forced to eat alone so as not to ruin the status quo.

Yes, there were times when she was hungry and she ate first. But I would never suggest anyone with children shouldn't bring children to a table (but I would expect them to be making some effort that their children would sit nicely/not throw food etc)

hopskipandthump Wed 11-Dec-13 09:47:19

Have a lovely Christmas OP!

AngelaDaviesHair Tue 10-Dec-13 16:14:13

Brilliant can't/won't read cross post!

toobreathless Tue 10-Dec-13 15:53:39


I would not accept this.

My DD1 is 2.5 and will sit up and eat the same thing as us at the same time. The only concession will be her kiddie cutlery. She is more than capable of sitting quietly and eating nicely then asking to get down- because that is what is expected of her.

Personally I feel that children should be treated as one of the family and not excluded. In return I have very high expectations of behaviour.

GromitAndWallace Tue 10-Dec-13 15:24:31

Thanks Lying! It's a rule of AIBU i think that people refuse to read further posts, but also read lots into an OP that wasn't there in the first place. Also a rule that one kind, same person will come along to be rational and calm ... wink

Coveredinweetabix Tue 10-Dec-13 15:20:43

OP - we have Xmas lunch around 3pm. It's too late for the children to eat then so they have something simple and which they're guaranteed to eat (so beans on toast or similar) at their usual lunch time of 12.00 and then sit down with us at 3 and eat what they want. Their presents will have included a present for them to do during lunch (sticker book or similar) but normally they want to join in the fun, to the limited extent they can. The DC are parked at the end of the table furthest from the kitchen so nothing hot needs to go near the,, only have plastic glasses, cutlery etc at that end of the table and general try & childproof it. Conveniently for us now that DC1 is potty trained, it's also the end of the room nearest the loo!
There's still some faffing around as we realise we've forgotten bibs or something but in the same way that we might forget to put the cranberry sauce out or take the pigs in blankets out of the oven. It is a family meal at home, not a trip to the restaurant.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Tue 10-Dec-13 15:06:19

Ohh Gromit, you've spoiled the fun now - not Christmas exactly - but the enjoyment of the terminal can't read/won't readers and the omnipresent conclusion jumpers.

Some posters can't even bother to read the OP's post above nevermind the whole thread.

cupcake78 Tue 10-Dec-13 14:29:54

Haven't read full thread but children should sit at the table and eat with the family! Who cares if its mayhem, its christmas day lighten up!

Give the parents a rest and you should help with them so mum and dad can digest their meal. A luxury not achieved by most parents.

GromitAndWallace Tue 10-Dec-13 14:19:08

Wow is this still going?! If you look back to my post over 24 hrs ago I said I could see that IABU. That's the point of this board isn't it, to get a reality check? I've got one thanks, some of you have also given some great ideas to help manage the process better - so thank you for that too.

Many of you have made massive assumptions about my motives, personality, expectations, family, based on nothing. I don't see what's wrong with wanting the meal to be a nice occasion for everyone (last year it was stressful for everyone except the DTs I think!). I was clearly going the wrong way about it and will now go the right way about it. Ta.

Florrypops1 Tue 10-Dec-13 09:04:33

I totally sympathise, the issue is the whole meal time revolves around the babies! Everyone is constantly looking at them or cooing over them etc etc and it can make you feel very left out. Especially if you don't have children of your own, it is difficult. Having said that, you just gave to get on with it! If you don't want the children taking over do something without them, if you want to see your sister at Christmas accept the children will dictate the day. Your decision

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Tue 10-Dec-13 08:55:33

Why doesn't op eat her meal half an hour early. That way the children eating can't offend her. She can then offer to help with the twins while their parents eat. Win win

tinselkitty Tue 10-Dec-13 08:50:13

Part of Christmas is that the the whole family eats together in my view. Yes they are a bit messy but accept it as being part of Christmas at the moment.

My 15mo will be eating her first Christmas dinner with us all this year. I hate the whole sit down for a big formal drawn out lunch. Sit, enjoy the food and the company and just let her get on with it.

Christmas is better with children anyway

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 10-Dec-13 08:49:34

Full? Dull

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 10-Dec-13 08:49:06


I don't see what the problem would be sad everyone's free to carry on as normal and your Ds takes as long as he takes. A minute to chop up some turkey or load a spoon coukdvt possibly ruin a meal. Not unless they are all so miserable and full that they have nothing to talk about and just state at your Ds.

ShreddedHoops Tue 10-Dec-13 08:44:40

YABU. I feel quite upset by the idea that my family might be irritated by my DS taking ages over his meal, needing help and so on sad I've always shared eating times and food with him and I'm not going to stop for Christmas!

Gileswithachainsaw Tue 10-Dec-13 08:43:02

Well said midnite

I have two children they have always eaten Xmas dinner with us. It's never been a faff. Not quite sure either what all "the getting up and down" is about. Serve food get them a drink and set up a DVD for after. You can set up a colouring book and crayons and a couple of toys in a little bag the night before surely.

Mim78 Tue 10-Dec-13 08:41:39

Yabu from me too I'm afraid. I think you are being too controlling. Like the idea of getting them ssomething to play with at table. Everyone should be together and Christmas and I also agree it would be more difficult for sis if they ate earlier.

MidniteScribbler Tue 10-Dec-13 08:32:55

The whole 'I want my DSis to enjoy her meal' is a load of crap. 'I don't MY meal interrupted by children' is what is actually meant. A bit like the people who say that they're having child free weddings because they want to give the parents a 'night off'. No you don't, you don't want children at your wedding. There's no problem with that, but at least own it and stop trying to make excuses.

takeitonthegin Tue 10-Dec-13 07:21:22

YABU...a year does make a lot of difference. My DS is now 2 and a half and will sit at the table for a greater length of time than last year, he also isn't as needy. Maybe suggest a childrens table so the younger ones feel important. DS hates his high chair, but sits and eats beautifully at a little table with his brother. I think it makes him feel like a big boy. Maybe get some colouring stuff in to help keep them entertained or some blocks, im sure your sister would appreciate that more. smile

Adding to the YABVU I'm afraid.
I cannot imagine starting Christmas lunch for children ahead of everyone else - so the children are virtually finished, and heartily sick of sitting at table, before everyone else sits down.
Of course it is not a dignified adult meal when family are this age! but my goodness the children are learning a very great deal about social behaviour ....apart from the importance of being fully included in the biggest family occasion of the year. My eldest, aged three, managed to offer a very short "Grace" at Christmas lunch, helped by an adoring GF ( way back in the dark ages ) It is one of my most precious memories.

Honestly, if you haven't realised already from the replies need to stay out of this. On every level.
The only acceptable input would be a word to your DM if she has failed to put a parent next to each twin, in the seating plan.
Then leave it up to your brother & his wife to get on with parenting.

If it bothers you, grab a grip, have some wine
If you do get indigestion, it won't be terminal.

Jengnr Tue 10-Dec-13 07:13:13

If I was your sister and it was made clear like that that my children weren't welcome for a meal we'd stay at home instead or go elsewhere.

Sounds to me like now your children are older you don't want to deal with toddlers. Which is up to you but not very fair to push another family out because of your issues.

Ninasaurus Tue 10-Dec-13 07:07:32

I think it is up to the parents to decide.

Your plan wouldn't have worked for us. After about 12 months dc wanted to be part of the family and wasn't the sort to be confined to the an area away from the family to eat (fussy eater who would rather play than eat).

Also when it came to the proper meal it wouldn't have been relaxing for the parents as dc needed full supervision. Not the sort to just play happily nearby in one place. Also toddlers often find it hard to nap after excitement and need lots of settling, buggy, car ride etc.

Much better to have dc at the table joining in the main festivities , confined to the high chair and sampling lots of edible goodies smile

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