A day of play makes all of us, especially a growing tot, hungry for a hearty home-cooked meal before bed. But how can you master the challenge of making dinner, entertaining your toddler, preparing for the night-time routine and avoiding the witching hour meltdowns?
Only the master multi-tasking mummas and night routine ninjas can do it – and all in just 22 hilarious steps (most of which you probably already have down pat).
Prepare for the challenge ahead with our tongue-in-cheek guide to feeding toddlers.
STEP 1. Make a list of all meals your toddler has devoured in the past.
Aim for success by sticking to items that make this list. Your list most likely includes chips, nuggets, pizza, spag bol and anything cheesy.
You can try to defy the odds by adding a non-favourite item to the plate. It just might go down well. Or end up on the floor. We’re putting our money on the latter.
(If you do want to venture outside the list, try this ingenious way to get fussy eaters to try new foods.)
STEP 2. Confirm with the toddler that, yes, the meal you’ve chosen is still acceptable.
We all know that toddlers’ taste buds change every day…
STEP 3. Make a timeline of when you want dinner and when you need to start cooking.
Add an extra hour, just in case. Add two extra hours if your toddler likes to “help”.
STEP 4. Set up various stations to keep your tot entertained while you are in the kitchen.
Watch as your tiny terror thrashes through every carefully crafted station in 17 seconds.
STEP 5. Attempt to get your toddler to play “clean up your mess”.
Fail miserably. Clean up yourself because toddlers are terrible at putting toys in the correct boxes (and you know you are going to just redo the job anyway).
STEP 6. Get distracted by toy organisation. Burn dinner.
Spend 15 minutes trying to get the caked-on pieces of your culinary masterpiece off the pot. It’s probably around this time that you decide to open a bottle of wine.
STEP 7. Prepare for your child to NEED a snack.
Spend the next ten minutes explaining that dinner is almost ready.
STEP 8. Notice toddler has gone suspiciously quiet.
Find missing tot in the pantry, covered in Nutella. Pour another glass of wine.
STEP 9. Remove child’s chocolatey clothing and place toddler into chair.
Offer a number of toys to keep him busy.
STEP 10. Watch as toddler throws every toy on the floor and attempts to exit the high chair.
Return the toys to the high chair. And tighten the straps. Repeat this step 7 times.
STEP 11. Give up and give your escape artist the iPad.
STEP 12. Chop your toddler’s meal into teeny tiny portions or cut each piece into various animal shapes.
Be informed by your toddler that you cut the food the wrong way. It is now inedible.
STEP 13. Place the inedible meal on your plate and try again.
Wait for your toddler to announce, “Me no like.” Point out that last week your tot devoured three plates of the very same dish. Be ignored.
STEP 14. Add sauce.
Sauce fixes everything, even poorly cut dinosaur nuggets.
STEP 15. Offer water in the very special green cup.
Discover that the green cup is no longer special or acceptable. Only the red cup will do.
STEP 16. Search the cupboards for the ridiculous red cup.
Make a mental note to invent a cup that changes colour with a child’s mood.
STEP 17. Watch your child eat a civilised meal.
Just kidding. Watch 1/8 of the meal actually end up in your toddler’s mouth. Watch the rest end up on the floor and mixed in with the water to form a gooey paste all over the high chair.
STEP 18. Call dog into the house to “clean” the floor.
STEP 19. Place your child (and most of your child’s dinner) in the bath.
You might as well place the high chair tray in there as well.
STEP 20. Kindly ask your child to get out of the bath.
Be ignored, again. Move on to Plan B: attempt to prevent your toddler from weeing in the bath water and pouring the entire bottle of baby wash down the sink. Fail on both accounts.
STEP 21. Choose cosy pyjamas suitable for the temperature (and that your toddler requested the night before).
Chase toddler around the room for twenty minutes trying to get chosen jammies on. Watch your cheeky cherub stroll out of the room two minutes later, completely naked. And probably requesting a snack.
STEP 22. Give in to your hungry nudest (and prepare for the next mammoth task)…
Sure, you can argue with Nudey Rudey…or you can count your losses on this one (and cut up an apple, which will probably be fed to the dog).
At the end of the day, your toddler may not be clothed, but at least you got bub fed and clean. And two out of three ain’t bad!
Dinner down. Bath done. The end is in sight! Preserve that very last ounce of energy and get ready for the grand finale – bedtime!