Casserole Time

Fresh Food Is Not Always Appreciated By Children

It can be HARD to be a parent.  I remember days of driving two hours to work, trying to fit in pumping three times during the work day, stress of budget deadlines and monthly branch finance deadlines, dealing with operations managers who were busy and didn’t get around to clearing discrepancies in estimated costs of import/export items we shipped, and then driving another two hours home, cooking dinner, breastfeeding the baby and feeling so guilty about only spending a handful of hours a day during the week with my family.  High stress job, mommy guilt, low milk supply problems due to stress and guilt (and forgetting sometimes to eat at work because I was busy and forgot the time) and postpartum depression – these were some of my issues, but there are a whole spectrum of other issues women – and men – have when trying to work outside the home and still have a quality family life, whether or not they have children, and to try to be healthy and kick the fast food monkey on our collective backs.


So what is one to do when you find yourself in this stressful situation?  Some people run, some do yoga, some meditate..and, yes, some turn to food or drugs or alcohol.  I don’t recommend turning to drugs – just FYI – they are illegal and you will wind up in jail with a bunk mate named Bubba(ette), also, they are very bad for your body.  Alcohol is equally bad, it can cause you to disassociate yourself from your family – and, if you are a mean or morose drunk, you can alienate those whom you need most.  Food, though it may be bad for you in excess and if you eat just junk/fast food and is right up there with the other two, you can turn into a good thing.  When I’m upset or stressed I do one of two things: Cook/bake or clean.  If you have visited my house lately, you know I have been going with the first instead of the later….but that’s another story.

Last night I had a bit of a meltdown (ok, ok, Rogan, so it was more than a bit!  Sheesh! :P)  I made baked teriyaki chicken and mashed sweet potatoes (from an 8lb paper bag purchase I made a few weeks ago at the Farmer’s Market) and the 4yo started about how she didn’t like this or that or the other.  The 17yo has been a challenge to cook for since she was about the same age – I have to not cook things Rogan and I would love to eat (ie, things made with hamburger meat, mushrooms, lots of garlic, onions, etc) because she doesn’t like something it is made with – and I just broke.  14 years of hearing “I don’t like that” came crashing down on me.  Add the 4yo and 2yo going through a “I may or may not eat with you, but I WILL ask for something to eat when it’s time to go to bed”, and it is enough to drive even someone without PPD over the edge.

I declared I was going to stop cooking, buy a ton of boxed cereals and just let everyone pick their own for dinners!  (Rogan took me out for coffee to let me calm down, that was how bad it was!)

Um, yeah.  Like that’s going to happen.  We have a box of MultiGrain Cheerios for the toddlers to keep them out of my hair for them to snack on during the day.  Occasionally, I will go nuts and buy something in vein of Apple Jacks, but I try to keep that to a minimum because I will eat them because of the sugar content.

I cook.  It is what I do.  I am tempted to cook what I want and let them eat something else, but then my Southern upbringing (sometimes I sound just like my mother) rears it’s head and I hear myself saying, “You will eat what I cooked, or you can go hungry!”  I never actually follow up on that statement, so don’t go calling DSS on me!  But it is tempting.  They usually run around (yeah, family dinner time with two toddlers running around like wild animals, screaming and hitting each other is soooo relaxing) and don’t eat.  Around 8:30-9:00 they will ask for food.  They usually get a peanut butter sandwich (the teen just raids the food pantry and fridge at all hours of the day).  I am soooo not good on the tough love parenting thing.

So, tell me.  What do you do to cope with the picky eaters (kids or spouses) in your family?  Do you cave to the “happy, happy, joy, joy” kids meals, or do you make different things for different eaters, or do you put your foot down and they eat what you decide to cook?  Also, tips for getting toddlers to sit at the dinner tape (without resorting to duct tape or rope or chains) would be greatly appreciated.