Thursday 13 March 2014

The (Toddler) Hunger Games

Race you to the crust!

Currently my two boys are ongoing contestants in The Hunger Games - yes they do try and kill each other most days, but mostly they just pester me all day long for food and drinks.

I could give them a huge breakfast (e.g. two bowls of cereal plus fruit and water), yet it's not enough. They'll see me eating my breakfast and want some too. Then we'll head out to the park and they'll instantly demand sandwiches, because that's what they ate last time we were at the park.

We'll have just arrived at the library and while my back is turned for one minute they've rifled through my bag and found the lunch for hours later and devoured it. If we go to a play date at a friend's house, they'll literally camp out at the kitchen table and do nothing but eat instead of playing until it's time to go home. And going to the shops, well that's a joke. Any store we walk past that we ever bought an edible item from or is displaying something they're interested in consuming, they want it.

Why do they do it? Because toddlers are just darn annoying that's why.

It sure isn't because I haven't fed them enough. I give them breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus morning and afternoon tea at pretty much the same time every day and never skimp on meal size - I know they're growing boys.

They just associate EVERYTHING with food and use it as a way of either getting attention, delaying doing something, copying someone or asserting themselves.

I know I'm not alone here, many of my friends are in the same boat, and they all find it equally frustrating.

"We didn't come to the park just so you could eat!" I hear myself say over and over again. I know I shouldn't care, but it's pretty annoying. Especially as when we have to leave they then decide it's playtime.

Even though I don't cave ALL the time, I do often give in (sometimes not of my own choice though if they're on a pilfering mission). I know this is the problem and I need to stop it, but some days I'm just not in the mood for a public meltdown.

I used to be very hardcore with set meal times and nothing in between, but things started to slip when baby number two came along. You're out in public breastfeeding and your other child is screaming for sultanas he saw you put in there earlier as an emergency snack - what would you do? That's right, you give them the darn tarnis.

From there it's a slippery slope though and that's why now I'm slap bang in the middle of The Hunger Games.

I know I shouldn't carry food with me, the boys are old enough now that I don't need 'emergency snacks' - but they sure do come in handy when you're stuck in severe traffic or some other major unforeseen delay that prevents you from delivering a meal at its normal time.

One answer I guess is to make it harder for them to find snacks themselves. The food in our home is already under lock and key pretty much though - we have baby gates still for the kitchen and I can't even put a fruit bowl on our dining room table because my youngest climbs up and eats it all (yep, even munches through banana skins).

It's also particularly hard at other people's places where you can't control what food is easily accessible. My boys are like animals, seriously. If you've got food, they will sniff it out.

The other solution is to just stop giving in when I can with allowing them to eat when I don't want them to. Sigh. I'm up for this, but I guess my friends and the general public will just have to deal with some noise for a while.

Or... I could just wait until they're a bit older and disciplinary tactics such as threats and bribes might actually work. That is, until they become teenagers and turn into walking garbage disposal units that I have no control over.

Of course the irony of their little game at the moment though is at dinnertime they couldn't care less about what yummy meal I've put in front of them. Tonight's pork schnitzel and peas was thrown on to the floor in handfuls by my youngest. Not content with his own bowl emptied, he even helped his brother out and threw his on the floor too. Nice.

Maybe I should start taking dinner to the library instead.

Are The Hunger Games happening at your house?

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc 

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