Demanding dinner. Help me save my sanity. - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm at a loss.  My stb 3yo (posting here because she turns 3 this month and acts more like a 3yo than a 2yo) has had extreme hunger and eating issues for the past two months (or so, it's so hectic I don't even know).  She wants to eat all the time.  She's about 32lbs and the last 2lbs have been gained during this period of extreme hunger (she had been 30lbs for over a year).

 

When I cook dinner, it takes awhile because I have to do everything separately and not at the same time.  I have to use small appliances (electric pot, pan, toaster oven, etc) and can only use one at a time or I'll blow a fuse.  I'm home alone with the kids.  She demands dinner.  She screams.  She freaks out.  She has meltdowns.  She gets extremely angry with me.  Her 11mo old sister follows her lead and starts screaming at the top of her lungs just because, and thinks it's funny.  My apartment is all open except for the bathroom and my DHs computer room (not child friendly/safe).  

 

What can I do?  DH works late most nights.  MIL goes to school most nights (that said I don't like leaving the kids up there because they come bck to me acting strange).  Idk what to do.

 

*deep breath*

 

 

Help.


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#2 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 05:00 PM
 
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It sounds like you need to either start cooking earlier, or keep a supply of ready-to-eat snacks (cut up veggies, cheese, whole-grain crackers or muffins etc.) at hand during meal prep time.

A slow-cooker could be a great tool in your situation-- you could do most of the prep for the next day's dinner at night.

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#3 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks.  The thing is I do offer her snacks while she's demanding dinner.  She won't eat them, she continues to demand dinner.  She wants what I'm making.  I even made some dinner muffins earlier and she wanted nothing to do with them, she wanted "dinner".

 

An earlier mealtime won't work because she's eating all day long.  I don't think it's out of hunger, she just has some odd need to eat dinner right there and then.


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#4 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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I would have kicked myself a year ago for writing this, but can you give her a bowl of nuts or carrots and put on an episode of Dora?  That's what I do when I need to cook and do the dishes and my DD is stressing me out.


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#5 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 05:44 PM
 
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You might just have to serve dinner earlier.  My kids have to eat dinner at 4:30.  Much later than that, and it's meltdown city.  It took me a while to get used to, but now I think of it more as a late lunch for me, and then I have a light dinner with DH when he gets home.


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#6 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 06:02 PM
 
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If she 'demands' dinner just tell her nicely that dinner is in the works and she will have to wait. Yes, she will likely put up a stink over it but if she's old enough to make demands she's old enough to learn patience. Put out snacks in the meantime or give her a job such as washing plastic dishes or flatware, you may have to rewash everything but it will keep her occupied. You could also bring out a clock and explain that dinner will be ready at x time, be sure to give yourself a couple extra minutes just in case. If you don't feel she would understand a clock set out an egg timer, show her how the round part moves and when it dings dinner will be ready. You could make a game out of having her check the clock or timer every few minutes to tell you how much time you have remaining. My advice on the screaming would be to stop what you are doing if the older one is screaming. Just stop. It might take a few days of dinner being an hour late but she should learn that screaming will not get dinner on the table. Don't worry about cooking every single night - pancakes, sandwiches, frozen dinners, and so on are fine in a pinch. Are you able to premake dinners on the weekend so they are ready to heat up? The crock pot idea is a great one, lots of meals can be made in a crock pot and it only uses one outlet.

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#7 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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I just read that your mother in law goes to school most nights - why not go upstairs and use her kitchen while she's gone?

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#8 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

I just read that your mother in law goes to school most nights - why not go upstairs and use her kitchen while she's gone?



I'd rather not deal with DHs nosy ex-chef uncle prodding and telling me everything I'm doing wrong :(   Their house is also not child-friendly at all and I'd probably have more trouble watching the kids and cooking up there than here :(

 

I need to look into some crock pot recipes that are palatable for my DH.  He's the picky eater.


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#9 of 20 Old 12-08-2010, 07:00 PM
 
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Cook dinner earlier in the day. I rarely, like once a week on the weekends, will actually cook dinner at night. I always either have something in the crockpot (there are soo many books out there with good recipes, soup tonight was from the crockpot, tomorrow is spagetti and meatballs, I make chicken pot pie...) 75% of our meals come out the crockpot, I cook pork chops for Dh in there, we eat good for me never standing in front of the stove! or I cook up something in the day to pop in the oven later. My kids MELT if they are not eating dinner, and yes it has to be real dinner as well by 5:30 at the latest. Most of the time DH never eats with us because they couldn't even wait another 10 minutes. They just get so hungry, a snack doesn't cut it. 


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#10 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 05:32 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

If she 'demands' dinner just tell her nicely that dinner is in the works and she will have to wait. Yes, she will likely put up a stink over it but if she's old enough to make demands she's old enough to learn patience. Put out snacks in the meantime or give her a job such as washing plastic dishes or flatware, you may have to rewash everything but it will keep her occupied. You could also bring out a clock and explain that dinner will be ready at x time, be sure to give yourself a couple extra minutes just in case. If you don't feel she would understand a clock set out an egg timer, show her how the round part moves and when it dings dinner will be ready. You could make a game out of having her check the clock or timer every few minutes to tell you how much time you have remaining. My advice on the screaming would be to stop what you are doing if the older one is screaming. Just stop. It might take a few days of dinner being an hour late but she should learn that screaming will not get dinner on the table. Don't worry about cooking every single night - pancakes, sandwiches, frozen dinners, and so on are fine in a pinch. Are you able to premake dinners on the weekend so they are ready to heat up? The crock pot idea is a great one, lots of meals can be made in a crock pot and it only uses one outlet.



My newborn demands dinner: I don't think that it's an age thing.  A hungry child is a hungry child, and I think making them wait even longer for dinner isn't going to solve anything.  I would move up dinner to when she's hungry.


Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#11 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 06:20 AM
 
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Like Peony, I prep 90% of dinner before dd even gets home from school at 4pm.  If I'm doing something in the kitchen, I'll do something else to get ready for dinner.  I cook almost exclusively from scratch, so there is a lot of chopping, etc. that goes into our meals.  I don't do much of anything with the crock pot because everything seems to come out the same texture, but that's a good idea, too.  Usually food from a crock pot can be eaten over the course of a few hours... earlier for your dd and later for your dh.

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#12 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by lach View Post


My newborn demands dinner: I don't think that it's an age thing.  A hungry child is a hungry child, and I think making them wait even longer for dinner isn't going to solve anything.  I would move up dinner to when she's hungry.



But she's ALWAYS hungry and constantly eating!  


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#13 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 11:05 AM
 
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First, if she's suddenly extra hungry, perhaps a visit to the doc to rule out something medical might be in order.  Just to be sure.  It could just be that she's hit a major growth spurt.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by elus0814 View Post

I just read that your mother in law goes to school most nights - why not go upstairs and use her kitchen while she's gone?



I'd rather not deal with DHs nosy ex-chef uncle prodding and telling me everything I'm doing wrong :(   Their house is also not child-friendly at all and I'd probably have more trouble watching the kids and cooking up there than here :(

 

I need to look into some crock pot recipes that are palatable for my DH.  He's the picky eater.


What about having ex chef uncle come down to babysit the kiddos, and you go up to cook.  That way he's not looking over your shoulder, the kids are not in the child-unfriendly house, AND you don't have to listen to the demands.

 

In regards to your DH being picky.  Well, I kinda figure tough luck on that one.  If he doesn't want what you make, well, then he can make his own. 
 

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#14 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 11:05 AM
 
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You said she hadn't gained weight for a long time and is now gaining.  She's probably in a growth spurt, and therefore really is probably hungry about all the time.  I'd keep lots of snacks where she can get them if she's hungry, and move up dinner a bit for her big feed.  Really, I'd be glad she's hungry for an actual dinner and not just wanting to fill up on snack food, as that can be another problem during growth spurts.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WindyCityMom View Post


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post


My newborn demands dinner: I don't think that it's an age thing.  A hungry child is a hungry child, and I think making them wait even longer for dinner isn't going to solve anything.  I would move up dinner to when she's hungry.



But she's ALWAYS hungry and constantly eating!  



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#15 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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3 is a weird age.  Let me say that again... 3 is a weird age.  3 yr. olds start to obsess about the oddest things.  From what you describe, it's entirely possible that she's not hungry.  So then you have to ask yourself, why is she wanting dinner?  Is she really wanting to eat dinner or is it that she just wants your attention when you're trying to cook?  Is it possible that she wants to move your evening routine along because she really likes whatever family activity you do after dinner?  Or is she just anxious that she will get hungry and the food won't be ready? (this is something my 3 y.o. DD would do).  I have found age 3 to be full of anxieties because my DD is starting to figure out how the world works and some of it is scary to her.

 

On a related note, yes, get a crockpot!  They are the world's most awesome invention!  I use mine 2-3 times a week.  And this is the world's best crockpot cooking website:  http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/

 

Most of her stuff is very healthy.  She also does a lot of gluten-free and dairy-free recipes and some vegetarian stuff.

 

I stillheart.gif my crockpot.  joy.gif


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#16 of 20 Old 12-09-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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I'd cook dinner much earlier in the day and serve it later during the witching hour. She is probably going through a growth spurt and really is hungry. I'd also plan my cooking around what I can easily do rather than stacking applicances and cooking times. Or say, run the rice cooker in the bathroom.

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#17 of 20 Old 12-15-2010, 07:54 AM
 
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My three yr olds learned the word "appetizer". When they wanted food before dinner, I'd always have a tray of veggies, fruit, etc. available for them to munch on while they waited for dinner. But, it sounds like she has snacks available and is just latching onto the "is dinner ready" thing for some reason. I did find that what worked best for me with my 3 yr. olds when they were having a meltdown/tantrum was to acknowledge the reason "you're hungry for dinner, it will be ready soon, you can have xyz while you wait" then, simply, ignore it.

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#18 of 20 Old 12-17-2010, 03:18 PM
 
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I would give her a nutricious snack about an hour or so before usual dinner time so she isn't so hungry that she bugs you and maybe find something she is fond of like an art, play-doh, drawing, tv, coloring to do while you get started with cooking so she is entertained.


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#19 of 20 Old 12-17-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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You've gotten some great advice. I love the idea of getting creative with your cooking locations. So what if the rice cooker is in your bedroom? I'd definitely do whatever needs to be done to have dinner prepared earlier. My just turned 3yo comes home from school starving. If dinner isn't ready by 4:30 he'll fill up on snacks for sure. I can push him until about 5:00 if we're not home. The other thing I might suggest is involving her in the food prep. If you tell her, "I'm trying to get dinner ready as quickly as I can. Can you help Mommy stir this?" she might be so interested in what she's doing that it'll buy you a little time. And it doesn't necessarily have to be a huge thing. She can wash the same carrots in the sink over and over again if it keeps her happy while you cook. :)

 

And of course the other option is to just feed her some leftovers and then cook your meal after she's gone to bed for you and DH. Then save her a plate of that to be eaten the next night. Honestly, I end up having to do this quite a bit. DH doesn't come home until after DS is in bed sometimes, and it gives us a chance to eat together. I make myself a small plate with DS (a snack) so he feels as if we're eating together too.


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#20 of 20 Old 12-19-2010, 02:23 PM
 
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I much prefer my electric roaster oven to any slow cooker that I've owned.  Nesco makes a ton of different sizes.  You can bake in them as well as using them as a slow cooker.

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