One of the Biggest Fights In Our House: Battle Dinnertime

It comes around every evening between 6 and 6:30, and I’ve grown to dread it. Maybe it’s because it’s the end of the day and my nerves are shot. Maybe it’s because I am dieting and can’t eat what everybody else is. Or maybe it’s because my kids drive me insane every.single.night. because of it. It’s dinnertime, and I can’t stand it.

See these kids? They've just been told what's for dinner, and they ain't happy about it. Let the battle begin.

They’ve just been told what’s for dinner, and they ain’t happy about it. Let the battle begin.

Right around 3 PM when Ethan gets home from school, the kids are all starving and need a snack. And another. And another. They get cut off after the first one, and I start to chant this mantra: “No more snacks. It’s almost time for dinner” At first, I say it calmly. But by the 140th time, I start to yell it.

Then comes the question what’s for dinner. Unless my answer is hot dogs or chicken nuggets (or if they’re in a good mood maybe tacos), their answer is always the same: “I DON’T WANT THAT!” See that picture above? I just told the kids what we were having for dinner. They weren’t at all impressed or happy about it.

Last night, I made spaghetti and Gigi’s kick ass meatballs with garlic bread. Every time we’ve had it in the past (and that’s a lot!), the kids love it. Lila’s response tonight? “I don’t want yucky pasghetti and nasty meatballs!” My response? “Too bad. We are having yucky spaghetti and nasty meatballs and you’re gonna eat it all!”

The entire time I’m making dinner, my children are on the verge of dying from hunger. They start in with their  incessant dinnertime cry: “I’m so hungry. I want a snack.” And in return I yell incessantly: “I’M MAKING DINNER. YOU HAVE TO WAIT.” They don’t want what I’m making, they want cookies, crackers, ice cream, and/or candy.  And every night I force them to eat nasty food instead. This may win me the title of Meanest Mom in the Whole World.

Finally, dinner is ready. I line their plates up assembly line style, and dish out the nasty. I don’t give them all that much because let’s face it, they rarely eat it all anyways. And then I serve it to them, listening to whines and cries that would make any mom want to sell the kids to gypsies.

The whining doesn’t stop there…oh no. They continue the entire way through dinner. Every.single.second. of it.

While that’s happening, I make my plate. Since I’m dieting, I have to prepare a separate meal – it’s not hard and doesn’t take long…let’s say it takes me 10 minutes.

I sit down and eat. This takes longer because of the constant interruptions for more water, bathroom breaks, begs for something different to eat, etc. This takes about 20 more minutes.

I finish up and start cleaning up. I rinse dishes and load the dishwasher. I put away food and wipe off the counters and stove. This takes 15 minutes or so.

So we are now at 45 minutes from when the kids start eating.

Do you think they are done? Or do you think they are still whining and complaining?

Yep, still whining and complaining. And NOT done eating.


I’m at a loss. I know that dinnertime needs to happen and will continue to happen every night. What I need help with is how to handle how it goes! Do you have tips and tricks to cut out the whining and get your kids to eat? HELP!!!!


  1. It's rare that I'll make them something different, unless we're having something like tortilla soup, and i'll make them quesadillas. But if they argue, I just say too bad, this is your dinner. If you don't want it fine, but you're not getting anything else. I also make sure to give them something I know they WILL eat along with what we're having. So sometimes they only eat their fruit. Whatever. I actually miss the days of having them strapped in. I cannot STAND the constant getting up from the table to get something (irrelevant), go potty, name it. Stay in your chair! Leigh Ann recently posted..I see the light: An overindulgent Mother’s DayMy Profile
  2. You have described dinnertime at my house to a tee!!!! I have zero tips except for they eventually grow out of it! I just listen to the complaining... ok I really just tune it out! I've tried everything under the sun to get them to like new things, or at least try them. The one tip that I find the most laughable is the one about trying to give them "ownership" of the meal by helping out, growing the veggies etc. Yeah... they love the helping part... not the eating. Every single time I have tried that they have looked at me like I am crazy when I tried to get them to eat it. Not all of mine complain at the same time about the same things... but you can count on one or more grumbling at every meal! I agree with the previous comment though... something that they will eat along with the stuff they complain about. Good Luck!
  3. I was a picky eater, what do I mean once; I am! Something that helped me is that I let the kids help out and if I note that they keep wanting snacks before dinner time I actually move dinner time if its at 6 I'll feed them at 4:30 without snacks! And guess what?! EMPTY plates!!!! (I have 12 nieces & nephews and a baby girl who I've had to feed more than once)
  4. How to stop whining? I'm at a loss on that one. Nothing pushes my buttons more than whining. But dinnertime went much smoother in my house once I started keeping the milk at the table so no one has to get up. It's a small thing but getting up for milk was driving me crazy. Recently my kids started helping with the meal and setting the table. Even at three, my twins are helping stir things and tearing lettuce. It's not really help and it does make getting dinner on the table take longer, but it has made them more willing to eat. Twingle Mommy recently posted..Confidence My Son's New Weapon Against Cerebral PalsyMy Profile
  5. Oh my god. Have you been spying on my house at dinner time? Because this sounds VERBATIM like what happens. Last week I had a one hour stand-off over three bites of peas with my eight year old daughter. THREE BITES! ONE HOUR! So I feel your pain! Brooke recently posted..Move on maybeMy Profile
  6. We occasionally have this problem as well. I think ours stems from the fact that dinner time follows right after getting home time. They've been away all day with teachers and school and had to be on their best behavior. They are now home and can let their hair down... or get their whine on. I just tell them too bad, eat it anyway (but I always make something that I know they'll eat). I'm lucky that I have two really good eaters, but I did have one cry the other night because we weren't having spaghetti (we were having burrito night, she ate two). Jennifer recently posted..I am a food addictMy Profile
  7. I have a picky eater, and he does sit down with us for dinner, though he doesn't eat what we eat, I give him whatever he eats (which is limited, nothing too difficult). If he doesn't eat, he doesn't eat. When he gets hungry later, he'll ask for food, and he gets his unfinished (but warmed up, still yummy) dinner. It doesn't always work. If he whines during dinner, we just ignore him (in competition for Meanest Mom Ever). He'll realize that he's not getting the attention he wants, and he'll stop. I don't have personal experience, but from asking other parents, some have suggested involving the kids in the making of dinner, that'd get them more excited about mealtimes. Good luck! Alison recently posted..Things I’m Afraid to Tell You: Volume IIMy Profile
  8. I have no children and my dogs (with the exception of one finicky terrier) have always been motivated by food. I have witnessed the "supper standoff" while at a friend's house for dinner - an engaging 5 year old went from sweet to stubborn in 5 seconds at the sight of spaghetti. Kudos to all you moms (& dads) who engage in this battle night after night until something gives and hunger wins out. I was not a picky eater as a child, but my brother (8 years older than me) had to have clear boundaries between items on his plate and insisted that my mother strain his orange juice "to remove the googlies". We are now middle aged adults and I can report that my brother's appetite ( & his waistline) have grown over the years. He still has his quirks but has no problem getting enough sustenance Good luck to all the parents waging the dinnertime war. We salute you! Joan & the canine crew
  9. Oy, I tend to cave and make them things I know they like and will eat - mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, etc. I always give it with a side of fruit or something healthy. I know that's not the best answer, but its the truth. I have heard (but not tried) that often if they help you cook and feel more apart of the making of the meal they're more likely to eat it. It's certainly worth a try. GOOD LUCK! Marta recently posted..On Dove, Abercrombie and Marriage Equality.My Profile