I was chatting to a friend who mentioned in passing what she was making for dinner tonight. It sounded delicious, I had all the ingredients, and I had meal envy (and nothing else planned). I decided to do the same meal, it was something different – but not completely outrageous.

Creamy pasta with mushrooms and sliced lamb on the side.

Cream: usually eaten food (4-year-old loves)

Pasta: usually eaten food (4-year-old loves)

Mushrooms: usually eaten food when on pizza

Sliced lamb: usually eaten food (4-year-old loves)

I was lost in my own world and dinner was ready a little earlier than I expected.

This is how dinner proceeded:

  • I forgot to give my 4yr old a 10-minute warning before dinner so she could wind up her play. This resulted in instant stress, as in her mind there was still so much that had to be played out with her toys. Not a good start.
  • I figured since I was serving (mostly) usually eaten foods, I would serve it all on the same plate as a complete meal.
  • When she finally came to the table (after countless toys had been put to bed) she looked at the meal and point blank refused to join me at the table.
  • She ended up in bed with no dinner.

This is what I could have done differently.

Miss 4 may not have eaten, but she would more than likely have sat willingly at the table and been good company:

  • I could have given her that 10 min timestamp for when dinner would be ready, and it was time to start winding up her games – being in a relaxed mindset with a readiness for mealtime is a really important step in the process.
  • I could have saved some plain pasta to serve as a side-dish.
  • I could have served the meal “family-style” and let her serve herself from what was on the table – this would have been visually far less intimidating and allowed her some autonomy to pick and choose what she felt comfortable to eat.

Tonight, I did not give my daughter the best chance to succeed with dinner. I ate alone, and she went to bed without dinner.

Tomorrow is another day, lesson learnt!

PS. I’m sure I will make the same mistake again one day, I’ll get into a groove and get a bit too relaxed about the whole mealtime process. It’s OK to make mistakes. And one day, she will most likely just dig into the pasta like it’s no big deal.

Eat Happy!
Philippa Rijks
KDF Intern 2019-2020

image of unhappy kid faceplanting on the sandwich on his plate

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