Meals with a three-year-old are unpredictable to say the least. They can be full of fun and laughter while healthy foods are eaten in unbelievable quantities (did my toddler really just eat more bean burritos than I did?) or they can be full of screams and little feet stomping off to the other room while ant size portions of food are eaten between tears (hopefully only from the three-year-old). Luckily for the most part S is a relatively good eater and is pretty good about sitting down at the table with us, but I get it, sometimes sitting still and eating just isn’t fun.
I know some people live to eat, but I am not one of them. I usually eat to live. Matt used to say when we were traveling that he would wait for me to remember it was time to find someplace to eat, but often he would get too hungry and would give up and decide we had to stop to eat. When we were traveling I would get so distracted with all the new things to see and do that eating was just not a priority for me. I try to keep that feeling in mind on days when S is not into sitting down and eating. While I know not all meals have to be full of laughter and good food, I have been trying to find ways to have “fun meals” once in a while, which it is a lot easier now that summer is here and we can eat outside.
We live within walking distance of quite a few different City parks with playscapes and only a short drive from many more. One day when S and I were at the park this spring I looked over at the expansive green lawn and thought how nice it would be to just spend an evening at the park as a family. So we did. I packed a picnic dinner of sandwiches, chips, and cut up veggies and we went to the park. S had a great time and we got to spend time relaxing outside with minimal post-dinner cleanup. I might have to rethink the menu a bit because S wasn’t really into the sandwiches, but I’m hoping to make picnic dinners a summer tradition for our family.
We also set up a fire pit in our backyard recently. We have a little propane grill I want to start using more often too, but there is just something fun about roasting hot dogs over an open fire. Sure it takes a little time to get the fire going and everyone smells like smoke afterward, but it is an easy way to get that camping feeling without leaving our backyard. It also never hurts to have a few marshmallows to roast for dessert.
So this summer I aim to make meals a little bit more fun for everyone, especially S. When it turns cold again I might have to come up with new “fun meals” but for now we are going to enjoy the warm sunshine, green grass, neighborhood parks, and even our own backyard at dinner time. What do you do for fun meals with your kids? I would love some more ideas.