Motherhood, in some ways, is like a well-orchestrated magic act. Clever rouses, schemes, fuzzy fabrics, glitter and glue hide our real motivation: surviving and hoping our kids turn out ok in the end. These tricks-of-the-eye apply to the health and well being of our kiddies too. Trying to get your kids to eat a healthy meal can be more impossible than finding the one, small particular green lego that your 6 year old wants from his huge bin of legos. This is where mamas need to get clever. Some moms are lucky and are born with fantastic eaters, but others are, welllll, not so lucky. It is that group of moms that have become experts in the three-ring circus act that most non-parents call “dinner time”. These slights of hand, imaginative stories and clever songs are what we use to survive the Battle of Dinner, night after night…and some of them are pretty funny.
If you were blessed with wonderful eaters that don’t throw a fit about whatever you cook for them, or that never have sporadic food likes and dislikes that change with the tides, or ones that never, never try to negotiate with you how much they have to eat like a $1000 an hour lawyer, well then the rest of us are jealous. You can feel free to read along and take notes, just in case your child decides to switch to the “I’m not eating THAT!” team.
The story unfolds in an ordinary kitchen with an ordinary family. Ordinary mom or dad is ordinarily tired from their ordinary day, but still they put on their big-parent pants and begin to cook a healthy meal for their wonderfully ordinary family. Maybe it’s a tried and true favorite, maybe it’s a new recipe they found on Pinterest and thought the kids would “surely love this!”. What they make isn’t the point…it’s all what unfolds after. Everyone sits at the table, ready to enjoy this lovely meal when it starts. The “yucks”, the stares, the plates being pushed away or picked at…it’s the world famous Battle of Dinner. Mom or Dad sigh all the sighs and then reach into their imaginative bag of “ways to get your kids to eat” tricks and come out with some pretty ingenious ways to get those littles to eat that meal- or at least some of it.
Here are some of the hilariously honest tricks many parents have used to get their kids to eat:
The “hidden veggie” trick
We all have see those cookbooks that are full of recipes that call for cups of veggie or fruit purees cleverly hidden in the mix, and we may even own a few. Are they clever? Yes. Does it work? Yes, normally; but is is a pain in the you know what? YES. Preparing all those purees ahead of time is a nightmare. Maybe we should just start buying baby food again and add it to their mashed potatoes. Much easier.
The “superhero” trick
“Hey, did you know if you eat your chicken, you will be as strong as Spider-man??” Yes, it’s totally true. Just eat them!
The “it’s _____’s favorite!!”
Sometimes just telling your child that Blue from Blue’s Clues, or Daniel Tiger also loves toast is enough to get them to eat it. Some parents even go to great lengths of creating new “versions” of their child’s favorite show’s theme song to include the food they want them to eat. Drastic, yes, but if it works, then why not?? “Thomas the Tank Engine is eating his ham. Do do do do. Do do do do. Thomas loves his haaaammmmmm.”
Breakfast for dinner, sandwiches for breakfast. Why not? Just because it’s silly it may work!
The “put it on a stick” trick
Most kids will eat anything on a stick. Why? We’re not sure, but just cutting up an ordinary meal and placing it on a stick seems to magically transform the dish into something mystical- and makes the child want to eat it. Now we just need to find a way to make a turkey-mashed potato-green bean-and-gravy kabob and we will be all set.
Many-a-parent have turned regular meatloaf and mashed potatoes into something extraordinary, like a polar bear sitting on a rocky cliff, or perhaps an Olaf who’s riding a brown skateboard. Sure it takes an extra hour to create, but who among us doesn’t dream of sculpting snowmen from mashed potatoes for hours??
The “funny new-name” trick
No, kids, it’s not spaghetti and meatballs, it’s Spider-man webs and Super balls!! Yes, we said super balls! Suddenly boccoli are “trees” and noodles are “tunnel slides” or “worms” (whatever your kid is into). Silly, but it seems to work. Just don’t ever stop calling them by those special names. Ever.
The “eat wherever you want” move
Oh you ONLY will eat lunch in the bathroom now?? Ummm ok, sure, why not? Roll with it moms!
When your child turns up their nose to that new recipe you made, just use The Fib. “No no sweetie, this isn’t something new. We’ve already eaten this and you LOVED it! Don’t you remember that? You wanted seconds! You loved it that much.”
And when all else fails:
If you eat x amount of dinner, you get x amount of bites of dessert. Yes, we know it goes against all parenting books but we are not ashamed to admit it!! We’ve all bribed your kids every now and again- right??
Ok fess up, how many have YOU been guilty of doing? Do you have another amazing trick to share? Well, don’t keep it to yourself now, tell all of us what hilariously effective tricks you have used to get your kids to eat their dinner (or breakfast or lunch).
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Photo Credits: Our Three Peas