Kids, even the ones without ADHD thrive on consistency, predictability and routine. Well, and why limit this to kids - I know how much better I do when there is some method to decrease the madness. Please welcome back to center stage, The Food Nanny Saves Dinner, by Liz Edmunds. If there is a common thread amidst psychologists, therapists and the food nanny, it would be that dinner is supposed to be fun - there should be as few rules as possible when it comes to dinner.
Admittedly, dinner-time at our house for the last couple of years has been anything but. My dear little Preston, who (truth-be-told most likely has a sensory disorder in regard to food) lives in mortal fear of dinner, has been a tough nut to crack when it comes to getting him to venture out of his comfort zone to even try new food. This has lead to bit of a struggle between my husband and I in regard to the purpose for trying new food. In the end, what is the point of sitting down as a family to chat and have a glimpse into every one's life if everyone is on pins and needles? There isn't. Main goal: lighten the time; no criticism, just fun. This leads to one of my biggest goals this year and that is to always ask myself in that moment, "What is the ultimate goal here?"
When Preston is having a meltdown because Bentley slobbered on one of Preston's Lego's, I remove Preston to his room to chill out because the ultimate goal of removing him is to have him relax and get a grip. That is the reason behind most time-outs - to simply remove kids from the situation and/or to stop the bad behavior. In this case to remove him and stop the behavior. The Lego can be washed for heavens' sake, but in that life or death moment when he is drunk on emotion, there is no point in trying to reason with him. Hence, with dinner, the point for me is to enjoy a good plate of food and conversation. I've given up on Preston's meltdowns over clam chowder. So, I implemented the following:
1) You have to try it and give an opinion on the food if you want to enjoy a snack at snack time.
2) You get to enjoy a dessert if you clean your plate (and given there is dessert that night).
3) If you can't stand what's for dinner, you are welcome to pass. You can eat up at your next meal, breakfast.
Simple. He can choose to eat or not eat and live with the consequences - hunger or no dessert. In the meantime, I get to enjoy my meal and the conversation. He will be excused from the table if there is whining and wailing and gnashing of teeth over how the meal was plated.
Now, part of the Food Nanny's goal is to bring families together for a little interpersonal time together to stay connected and involved in everybody's life (especially parents with kids). She even offers suggestions for conversation topics. The point is to have fun. She outlined her weekly meal plan as follows for simplification for her and predictability for the family:
Monday - Comfort Food
Tuesday - Italian
Wednesday - Fish or Meatless (Including breakfast for dinner)
Thursday - Mexican
Friday - Pizza Night
Saturday - Grill Night
Sunday - Family Traditions
With each chapter she includes some of her family's favorite recipes (which are quickly becoming our favorites as well). I went to a local home decor store and bought a small chalkboard for our kitchen. Each morning I write the dinner menu for that evening along with the pre-bed snack. Preston isn't in love with it yet (I hate Mexican night!) but I do think the predictability will help in the long-run (I even heard the other night, "Yay! It's pizza night!"). He is loving the nightly snack and that has been a motivator in working through dinner. I've also told him that we are practicing picking through his food and eating the good stuff, and leaving a pile of rubbish that is un-edible to him (baby steps) just for the sake of more nourishment.
Each night we come together for scripture study at about 8pm. During scripture study we have our snack:
Monday - Cookie or Brownie Night
Tuesday - Graham Crackers and Milk Night
Wednesday - Fresh Bread with butter and Honey Night
Thursday - Hot Chocolate Night
Friday - Movie Night with Popcorn
Saturday - Game Night and Kneader's Night
Sunday - Dessert Night
On Sunday's I'm also stoking the tradition of grilled cheese or denver sandwiches for lunch. I loved it when my Dad made either for lunch on Sunday's. That was a fun tradition for me. And that's part of what I'm trying to do - create some fun traditions and things for the kids to look forward to.
Not to mention that it keeps us on track time-wise and right after scriptures and snack, Preston and I head down to his room to play a quick one-on-one game before bed.
This is a step in the right direction for a happier home. Happier mom, happier dad, happier kids = happier home and I am already seeing the fruits of this labor. Employ and enjoy.
The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner, by Liz Edmunds
Recipe for Denver Sandwiches
1 slice of toasted bread
1-2 Eggs (I prefer cooked over easy - most nutrients!)
Couple slices cheddar cheese
Optional: Mayo, mustard
Toast the bread and melt the cheese on top, add cooked bacon and eggs and mustard. Love it!