Dinner In A Cupcake Tin

“Unquiet meals make ill digestions.” ~ William Shakespeare

I’ve given up on having family dinners during this stage of our lives. I know how important they are for raising well-mannered, confident, happy children, but it’s no use. Most nights of the week, our Daddy has to work long past dinnertime. The twin 2 year olds only sit still for 2 minutes, and while I could put my foot down and make them sit longer, I think there’s a reason why timeouts are recommended as one minute per year of age. That’s how long their attention span is! On the nights when Daddy is home, by the time we finish the marathon of dishing out three plates, filling milk cups, cleaning up spills, and filling our own plates, the kids are done and begging for release just as we sit down. We learned quickly that bored toddlers at the table will shriek, jump, spill their milk, bonk their heads when they retrieve their cups, and cry. If they’ve eaten their fair share, quite frankly, we’d rather set them free and have a quieter grownup meal.

The joys and pains of being a stay-at-home mom to three kids age 4 and under mean that we love each other dearly in the morning, we’re still good friends by lunchtime, and by dinnertime, we’ve all had enough of each other! So we adapt. We often have better family meals at lunchtime, and Daddy can still participate when he’s off work. Or, if we’re out-and-about at a fun place, we take a break from playing and talk about our adventure while we eat. More bonding is accomplished during those times than during the war zone of our evening dinner table.

Our favorite adaptation is “the picnic.” Especially on the nights when Daddy works late and I’d like to make a decent grownup meal without the kids careening through my kitchen, I turn to our new blue cupcake tins and a TV show. (Because the metal tins were used so much they got rusty!) Each kid gets their own tray with six food choices, always several healthy ones, but usually a treat too. I think everyone should have the choice occasionally to eat desert first, and my kids do. However, they always eat all the healthy foods as well, and they often quote my advice back to me, “Eat healthy food first and then have a treat.” I hope my kids will have a healthy relationship with food as they grow up, and it seems they’re on their way. Neither binging, nor deprivation, just moderation.

I agree that kids should eat what they’re given and not treat my kitchen like a restaurant. However, with twin 2 year olds who eat the same 4 things every day, but not the same 4 things as each other, I do make room for accommodation to save my sanity and my eardrums. Thus, Mr. Twin gets more fruit and Miss Twin gets more cheese. I’m so glad I have Big Sister to continually remind me that the twins are in a phase and it too shall pass. She eats all kinds of foods now, and while her loves and hates change every day (apparently, the 4-year-old stage), she’s much more open to trying new foods than she was 2 years ago. Since their tastes continually change, I finally learned to not make mealtime a battleground. We have enough other battles in a day!

While we’ve adapted to raising twin cavemen, I see their progress every day toward civilized human beings. That gives me hope that we will one day have family dinner times, and will turn out well-mannered, confident, happy kids–who will then dash off to soccer games, friends, and homework, and Daddy and I will still have our grownup meals. 🙂

“Meals, in the sense in which we understand this word, began with the second age of the human species.” ~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth Louw
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 11:20:27

    I love it Abby. I wish we could have cupcake tin picnic dinners here. Unfortunately it wouldn’t fly with my big ‘kid’! So meat, veggies & potatoes at the dinner table it is.


  2. inadifferentvoice
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 15:22:02

    What a loely idea! I really like that – mine are 1 (x2) and 3 so will definitely put that on the list for the summer! Like what I’ve read so far and will look forward to coming back to have another good look through 🙂


    • abbyplambeck
      Feb 06, 2012 @ 11:26:47

      Thanks for reading my blog! Your post about “Things Not To Say To A Twin Mum…” came up in my Facebook feed through the Twinversity group. Loved it and identified with it, as well as your other posts. I have a Trio here too, age 4 and 2-year-old twins. It’s a wonderfully crazy life, isn’t it? Looking forward to reading more of yours as well! 🙂


  3. jcnieraderad
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 21:00:30

    Beautiful, fun, and yummy! Great idea, Abby. Thank you for sharing.


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