Sunday, September 9, 2012

Parenting Fail

In general, I think that Mr. Quimby and I have done a pretty good job with the big issues of parenting.  We fail often in the day to day, and I start every morning with a Hail Mary and a prayer to help me be a better wife and mother that day.

Yet, there is one big area that I have failed on and that is getting the girls to eat a wide variety of foods.  I get teary from frustration just thinking about it.

Mr. Q and I did great when they were infants - made all their baby food, gave them lots and lots of different healthy table foods, made sure they had a wide variety each day.  We would make 2 vegetables and 1-2 protein/grain dishes for them every weekend.  But we didn't eat out that often and Mr. Q and I don't enjoy cooking, so we didn't make dinners on a regular basis that were healthy enough for children (not to mention infants and toddlers) to eat.  They kept eating their steamed vegetables, whole wheat pasta, rice and lentils, and a small handful of fruits that had a long shelf life and were easy to prepare.

When Ramona was about 18 months old, I started making dinner every night.  In an effort to keep it simple, I had 6-7 dinners that I made on a consistent basis.  She had already developed her constipation issues by then, so keeping our meals consistent and predictable was a way to keep her digestion moving and avoid the struggle that would result when we tried to get her to eat something new.  That struggle would cause tension which would make her "hold it" which would start this awful cycle.   Running our household still felt a bit overwhelming for Mr. Q and I at that point, and cooking a wide variety of dinners was something we just had to let go of.

Over the past 2-3 years, I've gone to Dream Dinners or Let's Dish and made various meals.  I would prepare them, Mr. Q and the girls would refuse to eat them (did I mention that Mr. Q has a limited repetoire as well) and they would wind up eating pasta or leftovers while I ate the DELICIOUS well balanced meal that I prepared.

So, here we are at ages 5 and 7, and they have a very limited repetoire.  I am grateful, oh so grateful, that their very limited repetoire is healthy food.  Beezus will eat two fast food options, Ramona won't eat any.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when we had Chipotle a few nights ago for my birthday dinner.  Previously one of their fast food options, they both had a few bites and then wouldn't eat any more.  Then, a couple days later we went out to dinner at a local restaurant, and they ordered plain white pasta (Ramona) and PB&J (Beezus).  THEN a few days after that, Mr. Q was out of town    and the girls and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant and neither of them would eat the meatball they ordered because it had sauce on it.  (Homemade sauce that was DELICIOUS).  This kind of whiny eating habits drives me CRAZY and I really can't take it anymore.

It's time for action, people.  I've got my community event that I'm in charge of coming up in 2.5 weeks, and after that I'm laying down the law about eating.  I eat well-balanced meals (1/2 veggies, 1/4 protein, 1/4 grains) but I need to cut out the bread at mealtime (there are a lot of things I need to cut out, but that's another post :-) and I want my family to eat a better variety of foods.     In the meantime, I'm going to do some reading about adult picky eaters and child picky eaters and develop a strategy.  I also won't hesitate to make an appointment with a nutritionist who specializes in this sort of thing.  I've seen too many adults with limited repetoires to believe that this issue will just resolve itself.  I'm sick of eating the same darn thing all the time and I don't want to raise kids who eat such a limited repetoire.

If you have formerly picky kids, I'd love to hear how you turned it around !


Elaine said...

I am a formerly picky kid. Just ask my mom. She consistently cooked at least two meals every night - one for her and my dad, and 1 - 2 for my sister and I. Today? My sister seems to me to be still rather picky (though she's better than she was). I, on the other hand, eat everything that's vegetarian - and I consciously add foods that I do not like and eat them until I do like them. I recently added beets after refusing them for the previous 39 years (what a huge waste!). So...I'm putting my head in the sand and hoping my kids are like me. Otherwise, they're going to be picky adults. We have tried a few strategies with the kids with limited success. We should chat.

3XMom said...

We have had a similar problem. But we did fix it a bit by doing just what you suggest. I serve one meal. You must eat 3 forkfuls of each of the items on your plate. After that you can be "done". But you don't get to have anything else (like cheese, yogurt, other favorites) unless you eat all your (small portioned) food. My hubby is also a bad eater - so it is the rule for all. It has helped quite a bit. My oldest (10) is still tricky - but the other 2 are pretty good eaters now.

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

I really wish you good luck and also hope you'll share this journey on your blog. My kids both have also limited their options quite a bit where as I feel like when they were younger they'd eat all kinds of varieties.

Maud said...

You know I have no advice, just sympathy. I know how frustrating it is to be unable to eat out because the children won't eat anything. (Dash won't even eat french fries unless they're the right shape.)

But at least my husband is not picky, and I enjoy cooking, so I cook something nice for us and hope that some day the children will come around.

Jen said...

E is a pickier eater than A, but I think it also has to do with age - Ideas from my childhood and also experience with my own kids. My mom used to make homemade pizza and grate carrots or finely chop broccoli into the sauce and hide it under the cheese. Worked great until my dad poked around and saw them. Have you tried serving them something that seems unfamiliar, but call it by a familiar name ie. E wouldn't touch a brioche one day until I called it a muffin. The kids will eat ravioli so I introduced veggie dumplings that way. Have you tried peer pressure? Pick a family that you know eats a wide variety of food and then plan a potluck.

Peg said...

Having a picky eater ourselves (10 year old Damon) we read the book "Take the fight out of food." It was very informative and helped us form good strategies with him. He's added tons of new foods in the last year. Good luck!!

Rachel et Natalie said...

Feel your pain. When I serve something they do not like, I want them at least to have a bite. I don't know what happened to that 2 year old child who used to eat EVERYTHING! Rachel this last year has become picky about a lot of the vegetables she used to eat, Natalie not yet.
Peer pressure is for once good. Rachel now eats again French beans since her friend's dad prepared them in a simple way (microwave them for 2-3 min). We need to talk about strageties.

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