I have always been very diligent and disciplined about having a dinner time routine in our house. We rarely eat in front of the TV, and always try to sit down as a family around the dinner table of an evening.
Lovely. Right? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Why o why is dinner time such a NIGHTMARE at our house!!! Seriously, instead of being the lovely family time where we catch up on our days, I’m lucky not to walk out of it without having totally lost my cool and turned into Psycho Mumma.
I had a thing we used to do, where each person had to say three things that were good from their day, or three things they were grateful for. We did this even when the kids were younger, and it was golden (I know, I’m good hey!?)
Where have those days gone?
Here is a more typical dinnertime …
It starts with me asking the kids to turn off the TV, which will be followed by at least 5mins of complaining, possible some stomping around or perhaps, the more likely outcome, completely ignoring me like I don’t exist. To which I have to then repeatedly ask before I explode with “TURN IT OF NOWWWWWWWWWW” and march over to switch it off myself.
The children will then complain about what I have cooked. It doesn’t matter if it is their favourite, I will have cooked it wrong or the green things might be touching it. So I’ve given up cooking them stuff they will like, and I just cook them things they won’t like, so at least the whinging is justified (HA!).
My husband will then try to tell me some long winded story from his work but he won’t get two words out before being interrupted by one of the children (not that that will stop him, he will continue to persist with the story). Most likely the children will be complaining about the other ones behaviour or asking about some random fact, like does it really take 5 days to fly to the moon (I know that is not true, at least I think it is not, useless trivia facts are definitely not my forte) They then sing, yell, burp, fart or just generally make high pitch ear piercing noises for no reason whatsoever…
My husband will finally give up on his story and we will try to focus on the children instead. How was your day? tell me some good things about your day? To which they will launch into a story, that has nothing to do with their day, but usually some kind of whinge about the future..like whether they can watch TV after dinner (no you can’t…just like EVERY OTHER NIGHT)..whilst constantly being “talked over” by the other child. Then getting cross.
This whole scenario has also been sugared with my husband and I inserting a long series of table manner reminders. “Please use your knife and fork”, “don’t rock on your chair”, “eat with your mouth closed”, “elbows off the table”, “seriously….you need to use a knife and fork to eat mashed potato”…”NO…don’t wipe your hands all over your top”…etc etc. All of which are pretty much ignored.
Once they have eaten two mouthfuls, they start asking what is for Dessert. Usually, there isn’t any, except on weekend/special occasions. But this does not fail to surprise and dishearten the children every single evening…another great opportunity to whinge.
We leave the table 15min after we started (that’s if the children haven’t already been sent to their rooms half way through dinner because we failed to keep the chaos under some kind of control) and I want to lie on the floor and sleep…but instead, I’m packing the dishwasher (it was the children’s job but I have lost the will to argue with them about it).
So…to all you wise family people who tell me that dinner time is one of the most important times of the day…YOU SUCK. I’m sorry, but dinner time is hell. After a long day, it makes me want to cry.
As such…I have decided to drop my quest for elusive achievement of dinner time bliss. I’m not saying that we won’t sit and eat at the table…but I’m going to give up on this being a quality time of our day. It is a practical and required part of the day, a teaching moment perhaps, but it is not quality time. Maybe in the future it will be, I can’t imagine that…but sure…I’m open to miracles.
Instead, I’m going to use reading time, when the day is done and we are lying quietly in bed together…to have some quality time with the kids. And when I have left them all snuggled up in bed, then I can listen to my husband telling me about the stories from his day (and maybe insert something in about my own day if he stops long enough..because, lets not forget that I have also been at work all day)…. as long we are all finished before My Kitchen Rules starts, because all I really want to do is sit infront of mindless TV with a cup of tea…and be grateful that I have made it through another day.