How was your Christmas? Chances are it had its moments – children laughing and Walton-style family bonding, but those times may have been punctuated with stress, everyone getting on each other’s nerves and some pretty fraught mealtimes. Mealtimes can be stressful at the best of times. As well as feeding my own family, 7 days a week for the past 19 years (yes it does get monotonous, doesn’t it?), I do spend a lot of time listening, sympathising and trying to help other parents.
So today I had an email from a lovely lady who contacted me for skype support about 6 months ago. Her main goal? For her fussy little eater to sit up and eat Christmas dinner with the extended family this year. Her email today was one of the best I have had all year ‘He did it! He sat up at the table and had the same meal as the rest of the family!’. So why was this such a big deal to her? There is so much pressure to be happy and for everything to be perfect at Christmas and this highlights anything that is less than perfect in our lives, including the behaviour of our children. Feeding children is one of the most stressful aspects of childcare for many families. Food is tied up with emotion in a way that some other aspects of child management is not. Our job as parents from when we were pregnant or began raising our little ones is to nourish, nurture and feed. And this means we are emotionally invested in them eating in a way that we may not be about other aspects.
Add into this equation the change in routine that accompanies Christmas, influences of well-meaning relatives, the inevitable comparisons with other children who ‘eat everything’ and it is no surprise that feeding our little darlings can become slightly fraught!
So if you can identify with this, be safe in the knowledge that you are not alone. It is good to talk about it with other parents as chances are they have similar difficulties. And if it gets really difficult then do give me a call – I have a group workshop running in January (contact me for details) and also offer 1-2-1 support.
Here’s hoping you had a very happy Christmas with lots of fab food and family fun! Happy New year to you all!