Let me take you on a journey on how we arrived at this unfortunate conclusion.
So last weekend. It was rather unstructured after Art in the Park. And by "unstructured," I mean that all we did was laze around the house. We noticed a rather disturbing trend amongst the smaller residents- mealtimes were becoming more drawn out and dramatic. By the end of day on Sunday, both The Husband and I were completely exasperated. I did the math, and we had spent most of the day at the dining table, trying to get the kids to eat. (or hurry it up) Each meal was taking at least two hours, and the results were mixed. On occasion we could get 2/3 kids to have eaten an acceptable amount of food.
We tried everything, bribes, desserts, timeouts, etc.
Nothing worked. And the parents were getting WORKED UP. I have never seen The Husband that mad in a long time. (he is naturally pretty mellow, but even he was losing it)
Monday night, I already knew The Husband was going to be working late, and I was on my own with dinnertime. Breakfast went ok because we have a get-to-the-bus-stop-by-this-time deadline. Lunch? Well I gave them lunch, and when naptime turned up, I did not care if anyone ate anything. (nobody did) THEY WERE GOING TO FREAKING BED.
So dinnertime. After hour one, I was starting to get a little panic-attacky. IT WAS HAPPENING. AGAIN.
It is such a defeating feeling, being the parent, I am in charge of this whole show! The kids depend on me to feed and clothe them! To keep them safe and give them a roof over their heads. AND HERE I AM! Giving them food! Which they are flat out refusing to eat!
I am starting to bounce around some punishment ideas in my head and I am noticing that the problem seems to be my class-clown-daughter, Squirt. She is entertaining everyone with silly antics, keeping them from the task at hand. (eating! dinner!)
I bust out my kitchen timer and set it for twenty minutes. I inform them that if they have not finished dinner within the 20 minutes something bad would happen. I then sat down, still at the dining table, so right in front of them and fiddled around on the internet for twenty minutes. Again, I was sitting right there! And I was reminding them of the impending punishment every five minutes. They were not the least bit fazed. Inevitably the timer started dinging, and not one bite of dinner had been consumed. It was time to get real.
Since Squirt seemed to be the primary distraction, I resolved to remove her from the situation. I plucked her out of the dining room and set her dinner up at the counter in the kitchen, which is thankfully semi-divided from the dining room.
I clapped my hands: problem solved! Mission Accomplished!
With Squirt pathetically whining about her interminable loneliness, and an apparent void of entertainment, Bunny stepped up to the plate to pester the living daylights out of Little Man. She tried to feed him, she sang to him, it was HORRIBLE.
And I was running out of places to put eating children. There was only one place to go...
In case you are wondering, the separation experiment was not a complete success. It mostly just stressed everyone out, and very little progress was made in the way of actual food consumption.
My next idea? I am going to set a timer each and every time we eat. When it goes off, the food goes straight into the sink. Perhaps if they are hungry enough they will just eat the food in a remotely timely manner?!