S is for Supper…..
or dinner or tea or whatever you call the hell that is 5pm with small children..
We’ve all done it: imagined ourselves serving nutritious homemade meals to our grateful kids as they delightedly wolf it down and ask for a piece of fruit afterwards.
Perhaps you have even managed that. I haven’t.
Here are some of the reasons why, for me, this was a foolish dream..
1) Because, vegetables…
My kids don’t actually like the same foods, they’re like the Jekyl and Hyde of food tasting.
Well – they do both like chips.
One doesn’t like potatoes, the other really only likes potatoes. One won’t eat pasta, one loves it. One only likes raw carrots – no other veg. One will only eat a certain defined list of vegetables in a certain way. You get the idea. Basically, finding something they both like is a special kind of torture. And then they randomly decide they do or don’t like something and it ALL CHANGES…
2) “Meal Planning”
Every once in a while, I get to embark on a kind of meal planning fantasy and I announce loudly to everyone that I am MAKING. A. MEAL. PLAN.
It hangs over me like homework on a Sunday.
I suffer complete inertia and can’t think of anything which isn’t sausages and chips or fish fingers and potato waffles and I know I can’t serve them on a two-day cycle, even though it would probably go down a storm with the recipients. Eventually I’ll eek out 4 or 5 days worth on a scrap of paper and be really proud. By day 2 I’ve usually given up because I haven’t got sweet potatoes in or something (not that anyone likes sweet potatoes).
3) What the **** will I make TONIGHT
Sometimes I actually slightly forget about the whole 5pm food requirement until it’s reasonably late in the day and then I am gripped by THE FEAR. I have horrible circular internal discussions “well I could make bolognaise, but no I haven’t got time to defrost the mince… ok, ooh I could do home-made fish fingers – if I’d remembered earlier and got the fish out of the freezer…
…Oh FFS, I’ll just give them spaghetti hoops and fish fingers…“
4) The waste, oh the waste
So, I finally decide to make something healthy, like a nice shepherd’s pie… I spend more time and use more pans than I would like to in creating this. It’s perfect – they like bolognaise type stuff, they probably might possibly try the mash… plus we can all have the same meal for once. How did it go down? It was delicious; my husband and I really enjoyed it, so did the dogs. Because, you see, I may as well have served it piping hot directly into the dogs’ bowls. None of this tedious dirtying of plates – placed in front of the children and removed, mixed around a bit, but essentially untouched.
5) Tired – them
By this point in the day they’re tired… exhausted and unreasonable – well unless someone has had an unauthorized nap at 4pm – but that’s a whole other sorry tale. No-one has any sense of humour so who knows why this is the precise time of day I try to introduce new foods. The whole thing is futile.
5) Tired – me
At approximately the time of day I am required to create a culinary delight, I am also completely exhausted. It’s not as bad as it was in the dark days of extreme sleep deprivation, but you know what it’s like. The effort of making a decision is the thing that really kills me here (I just know you’re thinking, wow, she just needs to meal plan: keep reading, I’m coming to you…).
6) Helpful people
Helpful people often comment on my mealtime misery when I regularly bemoan it and say, why don’t I meal plan like they do (see above for why not), or all eat at the same time (IF ONLY) or batch cook at weekends (If ONLY I was that motivated). Helpful people don’t help my misery – in true “working through it” counseling style, the only person who can truly help me, is me…
On the up side, because every tale needs a happy ending…
…they are getting better and if you’d asked me to write this a year ago I wouldn’t have been able to. I would still have been sobbing into my shepherd’s pie, making an ugly face and saying, “but the waste… oh the waste” whilst shoveling it into my own miserable mouth and swigging Rioja.
Find more of Sarah Kazakos here: www.sarahkazakos.co.uk
This post is part of our A-Z of Parenting series where we take a look at the whole alphabet of things that can go right – or wrong – with parenting. A new letter is added every couple of days. Check out what’s happened so far here.
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