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Battle-lio. Furrowed brows, heels dug deep into the  floorboards. Hair standing on end, muscles clenched and teeth grinding. Tears, lots of tears, wailing and crowing. Battle lines are drawn, it is war!

The reason? An apple. The opponents? A mother and her daughter. Sound familiar? So much crying, so little eating. The solution comes in the form of surrender; hands in the air! This time from the older of the two. Mumma surrenders, gives up, retreats. After three days of fighting the apple-related battle, things have been weighed up and a ridiculous tension has set in.

Time to call it quits. Pick the battle mumma, pick the battle. It’s not because she cried but how much she cried; like her little heart was being torn apart. Toys were confiscated, sweets were withheld but still she cried. The pain, the heartache, time to choose the battles mumma.

Trial and error, much error. The tide has turned. Peace has returned to the house. The apple still makes an appearance, only later in the day and everyone is happy. Light feet pad over the old heel holes. There are smiles, cuddles and lots and lots of toys returned.

An apple, a battle and a surrendering mother. Not ashamed or defeated, just a little older, a little wiser, and ever loving her little girl.

Meal times. You’ve got to love them. Breakfast, Lunch and the creativity of dinner. What will we eat tonight?

It may seem a little extreme but I have devised a four week dinner plan; a flexible list with a sense of direction. I love it. It isn’t something I tell everyone. It’s a little embarrassing to be so organised. But I tell you, I no longer stand at the fridge staring at my ingredients, waiting for inspiration.

These meals aren’t guaranteed to work every time but at least I have a good shot at having a successful dinner time. Ah, yes, dinner time should be filled with funny conversation and stories about the day but this time is mostly filled with strong encouragement for the kids to finish their dinner. I just can’t seem to change my mind set. There has to be a better way.

There is the consequences approach: “Well, if you don’t finish your dinner, no ice cream or if you jump around while eating you’ll have to clean the floor with your own saliva.”

There is the anything goes dinner time: Food flies everywhere, including out of the mouth while recounting the day’s favourite activity. There are tummy slides through ice cream and everyone talks at once.

There is the ‘Children should be seen but not heard’ version: The children are dressed in their Sunday best, hands are crossed in laps. Mother and father talk in low tones about the highlights of their day while the children pat their mouth with their napkin, listening with intense interest.

Honestly there has to be a better way! Food is glorious (according to the song). Ah, no matter what your dinner time routine is, it is such an important time to connect. Mothers of the world unite and know that no one gets it right! So we may as well sit back, relax and let the good times fly!

Four Week Dinner Plan

Week 1: Beef Stir Fry, Honey Chicken, Fish and Veg, Pasta, Steak and Salad, Adventurous, Pizza.

Week 2: Pork Stir Fry, Fried Rice, Fish Fajitas, Tapas, Roast, Adventurous, Sausages.

Week 3: Chow Mein, Kebabs, Tacos, Steak and noodles, Fish Cakes, Adventurous, Chicken Caesar Salad.

Week 4: Beef Fajitas, Fish and Chips, Risotto, Mini Pies, Satay chicken, Hamburgers, Adventurous.

Note* If you have any awesome kid friendly but tasty recipes to add to this assortment, I would love them!

It is interesting to see language change as you enter parenthood. Language is efficient between mothers. There are phrases, spoken or written, that instantly make sense to other parents. A tap of the nose, a slow blink of the eyes, they know exactly what you mean.

For example, the other day, one of my lovely facebook friends said that she was having “one of those days”. I could feel hundreds of virtual nods moving simultaneously. ‘One of those days’ for a parent goes something like this:

– MORNING: Sleepless night, followed by whinging kid at the breakfast table, refusing to eat. An hour and a half later, the child is still in pyjamas and you’ve got to get out of the door. Lunches are hurriedly packed, the other child potters around forgetting what he or she has to pack in the school bag, no teeth cleaned. “We need to leave in 10 minutes”, you try not to scream. School child tantrums while trying ever so hard to put on pesky socks. Pyjama kid finally finishes grapes and dismounts chair, and starts fussing over clothes. Tears, screaming, parent tries hard to ignore while a volcano of emotions moves closer to the surface. Finally, both kids are dressed and find themselves in a power struggle over who has the stool while cleaning teeth and who can spit in the sink and who has to spit into the bath. Children meander to the car, taking FOREVER to climb in an sit DOWN. Car in motion, school kid dropped at school. Perhaps tears today, clinging onto legs, “Don’t go!”

-MIDDLE DAY: One child down one to go. You love your kids but this is just “one of those days”. The little one constantly switches between crying sad and painful whinging. Your patience is paper thin. You may use words you promised yourself you never would. You feel worse. You send child to bed for an early sleep after the breakfast behaviour is repeated at lunch. Child refuses to sleep, wants water, toilet, cuddle, story, more water, noises are scary, wants to sing…

-END DAY: Wake up little one. He/she is not happy. Grumpy, tears start again. Refuses to get out of bed. Shoes are put on while still in bed. Cuddle on the lounge before placing bleary-eyed little one in car.  Drive to school.  Little one demands water. No water, left at home! Try not to make little one run as you rush into the playground. Bell goes, school child runs past, dumping bulging, unzippered bag at your feet. You have to chase school child around the playground with bag and little one in tow. Ignored, you start walking out of the playground in the hope that s.c will follow. Eventually get to the car, go home. Afternoon filled with demands, sulks, crying, whinging and then dinner. You place your hard work on the table and you get “I don’t want to eat that”. You put child’s dinner in the bin and eventually they are both in bed!

– EVENING: You want to cry but too tired. You bury yourself in dvds, tv or a good book. You go to bed, trying not to seethe. “I love them, I love them, it was just ONE OF THOSE DAYS!”

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