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Breakfast for Dinner and Eating with Two Year Olds

Thursdays are breakfast for dinner at our house.  Tonight, however, is Finian’s 3rd birthday – so at this very moment we’re at a nearby gluten-free restaurant celebrating his joining our family.   When we told the boys Sunday would be breakfast for dinner night since Thursday was otherwise occupied, they broke out into cheer and started jumping up and down.  Immediately, Matt and I sent them outside to jump on the trampoline and let us cook in peace.  Was quite a romantic evening, just us cooking since Wes was napping.

It never ceases to amaze me how much the kids LOVE breakfast at dinnertime.  Last night, we took the advice of Sarah at Everyday Paleo and made Sweet Potato Hash (with leftover roasted sweet potatoes from our Lamb Burger meal) and a Mushroom, Spinach, Onion Fritatta.  We served it with a bowl of berries and then surprised the boys with Health Bent’s Banana Bread (we didn’t use chocolate and it was still VERY good).

Even the baby loves breakfast for dinner!
For those wondering how in the world our children eat spinach and mushrooms, it goes like this: the only food rule in our home is that there are no other options.

Often the recommendations for getting children to eat more of a healthful variety of foods is to get them to participate.  We do that too.  We also eat every meal at the table, as a family.  We invite them shopping with us to pick out foods at the store.  We pull out our children’s encyclopedia or Google something if we’re curious about which vitamins might be in them (for example, my 5yo once told Matt – who wears glasses – to eat more carrots).  All of these things are great; they’re ways to incorporate living healthful lives into your day to day activities.  However, I would say the first and most important rule in your home (and that means sticking to it no matter how much someone whines or throws a tantrum) is to not offer foods that aren’t part of the meal you’re eating as a family.

When we ate this meal, my 2 year old told us all that he didn’t like mushrooms.  Or spinach.  Or sweet potatoes.  Or meat.  “I like THOSE!”  He pointed, shouted and insisted on eating nothing but berries for dinner.  We let him have his first helping, just like everyone else.  When he wanted more, we calmly mentioned there was still more food on his plate.  “We don’t have 2nds when we’ve still got food on our plates!” we joked.   Take a stand about wastefulness –  it’s another good lesson to teach.  We ignored the freak-outs, whining and crying and asked him to use words.  When he told us he wanted more fruit we weree calm, respectful and are clear about needing to eat a balanced meal.

Throughout the meal, as we all chatted and enjoyed food, Finian eventually took a bite of egg.  Then meat.  Then potatoes.  And before he knew it, 75% of his meal was gone.  And then we offered, “would you like more fruit?”  Yes! As Cole was clearing the table and getting washed up, Finian served himself 2nds of eggs and hash, he told Matt don’t put it away, I’ll eat the rest. He needed to feel in control, and our not pressuring or telling him what to do or how to do it enabled him to reach a conclusion on his own: they’re not going to give me more berries, do I want to be hungry or eat the food they provided?  It won’t be this easy your first time, but I bet you it’ll work itself out if you give it a chance.

Happy Birthday, crazy Fini! Hope the hamburgers and lava cake you’ve been talking about (at Choices by Shawn’s) are everything you wanted and more!  Welcome to being 3 – we’re looking forward to the magical wand you’ll get for your birthday that will wash away all those “terrible two” behaviors…

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