Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Little Chefs

"The facts are on the table: eating dinner together every night keeps the doors of communication open. It’s the perfect time and place to reconnect and to show your kids that they are your priority. Sitting across the table is where and when you can find out more about your children’s likes, dislikes, and daily life. Having this information can help you direct your children toward positive activities and behavior, reducing the likelihood that they will get involved with alcohol, tobacco, and/or illegal drugs. Compared to teens that have frequent family dinners, those who rarely have family dinners are three-and-a-half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana. Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to full-fledged anorexia or abusing diet pills. Parental influence and involvement is an important tool in preventing substance abuse. Regularly sitting down for a meal with your children is one way to connect with them and be involved with what is happening in their lives." (from the US Department of Health and Human Services)

So do those statistics still apply if your family meatimes consist of constantly threatening your 4 year old to eat atleast 5 bites, which usually results in an average of 3 temper tantrums and 3 time-outs and ends with me practically pinning him down and spoon feeding him his minimum of 5 bites? I really hope not, otherwise we are in trouble! Seriously, family meal time should be a happy, relaxed and memorable experience but I find myself dreading it half the time because we go through the same thing night after night. He takes one look at the food and says "I don't like it" and then the fun starts. I refuse to be a short order chef and cater to his particular taste, so there have been many nights that he has gone to bed without eating anything because he refuses to eat what I put on the table (thankfully Kylie is pretty easy going when it comes to food, she's even less picky than I am and can eat steak and shrimp with the best of them--just don't make her get near a bread crust, though). After many frustrating mealtimes I decided to try something new. Each week I let the kids go through my recipe book and pick any meal that they want to put on the menu for that week. When it's their night for the meal they get to be my little chefs and help me cook. So far they have loved it. Even though I'm not too thrilled about eating corn dogs for dinner, it makes it worth it to know that there is atleast one meal I won't have to fight Jayden over eating. They get so excited about being my little chefs and it's been nice spending that one on one time with just them in the kitchen. The first thing Jayden asked when he woke up this morning was if it was his day to cook the noodles (spaghetti noodles with butter and parmesan-he has a thing against spaghetti sauce, and "snake bread"-breadsticks) and he couldn't have been more excited when I told him that it was. So maybe there is hope that my kids won't turn into anorexic druggies afterall.

15 comments:

Chelsea said...

ha ha! that last sentence was great. I think we can all relate to meal times not being relaxing nor pleasant with little ones. And most of the time by the time I am done prepping and cooking the food, I have lost my appetite. But I have heard that quote before and even called my stepmom to tell her about it so she will do it with my little brother and sister! it makes me feel good to know how much good it really is even though sometimes you dont think its even worth any effort! and why not make normal spagetti for everyone else and then leave the meat sauce of Jaydens and add parm & butter? thats what we do when Kosty decides he hates red sauce depending on the day....oh the joys.

Angie Whitman said...

That is funny. It always makes you feel like all the effort is worth it when I hear, "Ewwwww...I'm NOT eating that! That's disgushing!" Always said, no matter what if Maddie hasn't seen it before or in awhile! And any vegetable...she tells me she is going to die when she eats any vegetable. She puts her hands up to her throat and says its choking her. She's a very animated little girl.:)

Andrea said...

I remember many nights sitting alone at the table because I had to eat just one bite of food (I was a very picky eater) ... but I also remember every Sunday sitting around the table talking with my family for hours. Sundays were the best. Not that we didn't eat every meal together - but Sundays were more relaxed without homework and other things that would tend to speed up mealtime.
Consistency! Before long you will be sitting around the table with your kids enjoying conversation. You just have to endure the tantrums - it will all be worth it!
I always do "good day, bad day" with my kids at dinner time - it's amazing how much info I find out!
Jamie - you are a great mom!
And these pictures are darling!

Melissa said...

Such a fantastic idea Jamie! I am a huge believer in dinner together every night but I feel the same way. Some nights Dean and I just shake our heads and wonder if it is worth the chaos. Just like FHE. Even though it may be crazy, you are glad you do it and you may see the rewards from it..only down the road.
You are doing awesome!

Jodee said...

I don't know, maybe sitting at the table for hours until he eats just one more bite is OK. I feel like it takes me forever to put a meal together and get it on the table and then it is gone in seconds, then I have to start cleaning up. I wish meal time lasted a bit longer in my house! I like your little chefs idea. I should designate a day like that cause Madison is always asking me if she can cook with me and usually I say no because I am in such a hurry- that's sad!

Ricky and Janessa Cazier said...

I love it!!! What a great idea. I'm sure that quality time together cooking the meal so makes up for anything that's lost during the meal time battle. You are such a great mom to involve your kids in such a fun way. I'm going to have to try that. Yes, Jason is right. I copy everything you do. I want to be like Jamie when I grow up!

Pays said...

I totally know what you're going through! Now if we could just get our kids to stay seated the whole time while we are eating, that we be great! I have found the same thing with Brayden though, if I let him choose some things for the menu it helps a ton! Such cute little chefs, too!!

Tyler and Margaret said...

Uh, do I recognize that hot,red apron with blue trim and stars on it?? That must be remnants of the fabulous Jolley Reunion!!

Nichols Family said...

Good idea Jamie. I know if I tried that we'd have to leave Ramen off of the menu items. So, our struggle is keeping the kids in thier seats too. I threaten to bust out the highchairs almost every meal time. When does it stop?

Suni said...

We have the same fits at our house almost every day!! I get so frustrated!! Awhile back there was a story in the Friend about rock soup...I read that to my girls and now remind them they can eat what I made or I can get them a bowl of rock soup (I put my own twist on the story)! Its still a battle! I know it will all be worth it in the end, even though it drives me crazy now! I love the idea of letting them choose a meal, I am going to try that!!

Bret and Marisa said...

I love your new tradition of letting them pick the food for the day and being your little chefs! That's an awesome tradition!!! You are such a cute mom.

kemptons said...

Amen to it all! It was so nice to see you on Saturday. It meant so much to me and Katon that you and Kylie came. You look so great little missy that is due in 3 weeks. Can you hardly believe it. I can't wait to hear!

Kandice said...

It's nice to know I'm not the only one with a kid not eating, but sad to know it might last until he is 4. I will remember the pick a night for dinner thing, that is a great idea. My parents did that for us growing up. And I just saw your baby clock, 37 weeks today!! Crazy. How are you feeling? It is almost done. :)

Heather said...

Scary about that creepy "girl." I had forgotten you were private since you've let me view your blog. Your kids are darling, but I'm not a creepy person--just a mom like you. I'm excited for you and your family to have a new baby soon! Good luck with everything.

bunch of 'brooks said...

That is a great idea!!! I think we might have to try that idea around here. I'm always looking for simple ways to spend more one on one time with each kid. I like it Jamie, I like it!