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Advice sought on how to deal with tea time battles (long, sorry)

(6 Posts)
Pennies Mon 12-Jan-09 19:32:37

DD1 (4 yrs) and DD2 (3 yrs) are generally good eaters, for which I'm eternally thankful. At lunch they will behave well and eat a good lunch. At dinner time, however it is a different story and it is rare that we get through the meal without some kind of stand off, bargaining, bribery, confiscation or separation. It is torture, although they seem to think most of it is great fun. Often an entire meal is binned, barely touched. The only exception to this is if I serve them things that they really, really love (just pasta & pesto & sausages basically) but as they have lunch each day at school then it means that I can't ensure that they are getting a varied enough diet and I want them to have different foods.

It makes me so pissed off and I hate that they basically go to bed with no food, except some milk which goes against my instincts, despite the fact I know they won't starve overnight. Despite this I do still end up giving them either a piece of bread and butter or a banana so that my fear of midnight starvation is allayed! Then I feel that the whole battle to get them to eat has been wasted because they have ended up getting something that they end up seeing as a treat.

I know why it happens (they're tired, and I'm tired and their high jinx push my buttons).

I've tried sitting with them and trying to gently cajole them into conversation and eating. I've tried getting tough. I've tried a combination of the two. I don't give them snacks in the afternoon if I can barely help it (i.e. hard to refuse when there are biscuits a-plenty at a friends house) but this has limited success despite them being really hungry by tea time. The ONLY thing that seems to have any effect is if I actually separate them and one eats their dinner at a toddler table in the hall whilst the other has to stay put.

Obviously this latter option isn't really a solution because it is hard to keep an eye on them both at the same time, it is also (IMO) not a good way to try and instill the ethic of sociable meal times.

I'm tearing my hair out and dread the daily trauma that tea time has become.

Well done if you're still with me. Can anyone give me some tips on how to avoid this or how to manage it better?

onepieceofbrusselssprout Mon 12-Jan-09 19:37:57

Do they have a hot/cooked school lunch? (or if not could it be arranged for them to have one)

If they are having a cooked lunch, imo they don't need anything cooked in the evening. So I would really simplify things; sandwiches, yogurts, rice pudding,fruit etc. That way you don't need to put a huge effort into cooking and then inwardly seethe when it gets declined and then binned. Offer them the choice of 2 sandwich fillings if necessary. Obviously you would choose 2 fillings that you felt to be acceptable/nutritious.

If they are getting tired by teatime consider an early tea (4.30pm in this house) and give a small supper/drink of milk if necessary. Bedtime here is 7 ish for my 1 and 5 year olds so we don't bother with any more food/drink apart from the baby does have a bit of milk in a bottle at bedtime.

Pennies Mon 12-Jan-09 20:12:27

It is a cooked meal at lunch but it seems to be a bit pick and mix and it's rare that I can tell if they've eaten much, or even what they've eaten at all. DD2 just says she's had cucumber for lunch but I can tell from blobs of stuff on her clothes that she's clearly had something else. DD1 has never been forthcoming about her day until about two weeks after! So, armed with such little info I am reluctant to miss out on a decent bedtime meal.

Timings here are similar - I feed them at 5pm, I've tried earlier but they're rarely hungry enough. Bedtime for 7 here too!

onepieceofbrusselssprout Mon 12-Jan-09 20:44:50

Hi Pennies.

Could you ask the school (pre-school) if you can look at the menus? Then you would at least know what was on offer. I understand this may be a different issue to what they actually eat of course! grin

If you feel happier making a hot meal at teatime then I personally would still try to make it simple. Sausages and pesto pasta perhaps once a week as both of those meals are fine nutritionally (if you keep away from the value sausages. wink)

To reduce my stress levels I have a few very easy meals that I serve regularly. Pesto pasta is one, with philadelphia and peas.

Other easy-ish option are baked potatoes, beans on toast, pasta with cheese and/or tomato sauce. <<whispers>> decent quality fish fingers with assorted vegetables.

Also I occasionally cook a big pot of bolognese or similar and freeze little portions. Serve it with rice, potatoes or even toast if desperate!

Hope this phase soon passes. Personally it is bathtime I dread, seems to drag on and on.

Pennies Mon 12-Jan-09 22:34:53

I serve much the same as you - nothing too challenging (for me to cook or for them to eat!). They just got bonkers and take me with them.

A friend of mine swears by pouring herself a glass of wine as she serves up the kids tea. however as I've given up alcohol for January that's not an option for me right now!

Skywest Wed 11-Feb-15 17:26:02

Lol. I might have to start with the glass of wine thing. I have no answers unfortunately just needed somewhere to speak. My son who is 2 will basically eat Beans or Spaghetti on toast and that is it doesn't matter how much goos home cooked food you put in front of him he always ends up winning and I'm the only one who is having tantrums.

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