I sat at the dinner table tonight with tears welling up in my eyes, thinking “Why do I even bother?” My son refused to eat anything except bread, my daughter said the dinner was “disgusting” before she even tried it and then threw a massive tantrum, and my husband was not there because he was working late – again. I couldn’t even really eat because I was so frustrated.
In that moment, I decided to just give up on dinners and serve “kid food” all the time, letting the children come and go from the table as they please. I reasoned that if I did, I would eliminate the hassle of finding recipes, planning a grocery list, shopping, chopping, stirring, entertaining while cooking, coordinating, removing toys from the table . . . the list goes on and on. I would also eliminate the daily insults of children refusing to eat or telling me that the food is [insert negative adjective of your choice here].
If you have a family who eats your meals without protest, you have no idea what I’m rambling on about, and you should consider yourself lucky. If you don’t, however, I know you can understand the strife I’m feeling. I bet you’ve had similar thoughts of just giving up and serving PB&J, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and macaroni & cheese seven nights a week. (Please! I’m begging you! Tell me I’m not alone!)
Anyway, after the dust settled from tonight’s meal and I had some alone time to think about it, I realized that I couldn’t give up on dinner, and that I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.
- Dinners allow me to help my family (and my children especially), establish healthy eating habits. Even if they don’t eat the meals I make each night, they are, at the very least, exposed to the elements of a healthy diet.
- In eating dinner together, I am teaching my children how to focus on one thing for an extended period of time in an “unplugged” manner. This also leads to learning manners, learning to give thanks and learning to engage in conversation.
- Making dinner for my family makes the times we get food elsewhere even more special. When it’s not a “regular” thing to get takeout, go to dinner, or eat “kid food” things like chicken nuggets, those experiences are savored even more. (Yes, the Happy Meal is an exciting treat in my house!)
- Making dinner sets a precedent of normalcy and reliability that my children (and husband), can depend upon.
- And finally, in making meals for my family, I show them that I love them. I wouldn’t take the time to plan and make meals if I didn’t care about them so much. They might not see that yet (or ever), but it’s the truth.
I’m blogging this so that I can return to these reasons when dinnertime frustration strikes again, which will be tomorrow at 6:00 pm sharp. I’m also hoping that by putting this out there, I can convince just one other stressed out, fed-up parent to keep on cooking. I think it’s worth it (at least for now).