I hate eating a cold dinner — unless, of course, it’s supposed to be cold. But lukewarm pasta, or cold chicken, or worst yet, cold pizza just isn’t fun. After going through the effort to prepare a meal, it sucks to be left with a tepid dinner while our kid (who did zero work to prepare the meal, mind you) gets to enjoy a nice, piping hot meal. Doesn’t it?
So here’s a thought, parents… Why don’t we start feeding ourselves first?
I’m not suggesting that we make two meals; I’m simply saying, serve yourselves first. The kids can eat when you’re finished. This way we get to eat a hot meal, and we’re not fighting of hangry rage while we pour five cups of juice and retrieve the fork that’s been dropped for the fifth time. The kids aren’t going to mind — they’ll be whining about something no matter what — so take care of you, mama.
Imagine, if you will, getting to make the delicious dinner you’ve been dreaming of making for weeks. Imagine that you actually get to eat it, and without hearing from the little person sitting at the table that whatever you just put on their plate is “yucky.” Sounds downright dreamy, doesn’t it?
If you’re anything like me, you might not want to eat the same thing as your kid. (Dinosaur chicken nuggets? No thanks.) If you feed yourself first, then you can actually eat something you want — without sharing. So often, we shove dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets down our gullets because we made extra and we’re just too damn hungry to care. Or if you have a picky eater who only eats five different foods, you aren’t stuck eating the same boring thing every night because you’re just too tired to make yourself something other than macaroni and cheese from a box.
There is only so many ways you can try to spice up powdered orange cheese before you’re going to have your taste buds revoked. Sometimes grown-ups want to eat grown-up meals that don’t taste better drowned it ketchup or barbecue sauce.
Think about what it could be like to eat dinner when you’re not starving. If you feed yourself first, you might be able to get ahead of the hunger, and avoid eating like a toddler who is trying to shove as many cookies in their mouth as they can before they get caught. I can’t be the only one who’s guilty of overeating because I’m just so. damn. hungry, right?
By the time I’ve waited for my kid to get settled and eat his dinner contently, I am just so relieved to finally have a chance to eat that I literally inhale all of the food on my plate and then feel like I’m going to explode or puke because I didn’t think to, you know, breathe in between bites. If I eat it fast, I can imagine what it must have tasted like when it was still hot, and not just lukewarm and slightly congealed. Because, let’s be honest, by the time I reheat my food in the microwave, my son will be done eating anyway.
Wouldn’t it be nice to actually sit down and enjoy your meal? It probably won’t be quiet, but you may be able to distract the kids long enough to actually sit down and eat more than two bites before you have to get up for something. Who knows, maybe you’d be able to — gasp — finish your entire meal in a timely fashion. Wouldn’t that be something? To be able to actually sit and enjoy dinner? It feels like that’s a pipe dream that I won’t be able to achieve until my kid moves out of my house. But if you eat first, you might actually taste the food you got to cook.
Listen, this whole parents-eating-first thing is brilliant. We get to have a few minutes to ourselves where we can pretend that we don’t spend the rest of our day wiping butts, washing clothes, and cleaning the kitchen. If only for a few minutes (because, let’s face it, these aren’t going to be leisurely meals), we can eat like an actual human instead of a rabid animal. It makes us yearn for those days to come when our kids might be capable of serving themselves and getting their own damn juice. We just have to keep seeing the light at the end of the french fry-lined tunnel.
We spend every other minute of our lives putting the kids first, and we deserve a little time each day where we put the focus back on us. It’s not being selfish, and it doesn’t mean that we don’t love our kids. It just means that we’re human.