Hi Amy!! Have been following you forever and love your Smackdown advice. Please be merciful with my situation:
When I was home on maternity leave last winter with a colicky newborn I got into a bad habit with my toddler: *whispers* I started giving her most of her meals in front of the TV *hangs head in shame.*
At the time it didn’t seem like that big of a deal because it was the polar vortex winter of doom and I spent a lot of time pacing with and nursing a screaming infant. But now the screaming infant is a pleasant 10-month-old who eats nicely in a high chair and my toddler (now just turned three) just can NOT sit still and eat at the table.
I work part-time and she attends a home daycare while I am at work and is able to sit and eat properly there, even trying new foods, etc. Daycare lady reports no problems. But at home she will not sit in her seat, runs around the kitchen, and is generally disagreeable. Usually she asks to be excused and bring her plate to the couch to watch something. By that time I’m usually frazzled enough to be all: fine! She kind of zones out in front of the TV and will peacefully eat whatever’s on her plate. For what it’s worth, she’s a picky eater and kind of small/thin for her height but nothing outside the realm of normal.
I knowww what needs to be done, I just need advice and support about the terrible few weeks (months?) it will take to get there. I even bought Ellyn Satter’s book and I totally understand/agree with/want to emulate her advice. I am worried that I will repeat the same mistakes with my younger daughter and we will never have the lovely family dinners of my dreams. Is that unrealistic with two young kids anyways? My husband shares my concerns but works kind of late so it’s usually me and the girls for most meals. He will be totally on board with any plan of action.
So basically this isn’t a question about my toddler, it’s more about me. What are the actual words that need to come out of my mouth? I am prepared to have her skip some meals (dinnertime is the worst and she does much better at breakfast and lunch). Can she never eat in front of the TV again? Should I cut TV out all together? Help! I need some tough love.
PS I am a children’s librarian. Not even kidding. Oh, the irony!!
PPS This might sound defensive, but also wanted to note that we don’t watch crazy amounts of TV at our house — we do a good amount of reading, crafts, playing, running errands, normal stuff. TV is kind of now tied to dinner, which makes it … worse? I don’t know.