You are here

Mealtime woes. One step forward one step back...

Steptococci's picture

Is there an order of who's served first in a family that makes proper sense?

Is there an age at which kids should definitely be served their food ahead of adults (babies)? If so is there an age at which this is no longer appropriate?

I'm the primary person buying the food for dinner time, meal planning, and 90% or more of the prep and cooking for most meals. DH helps a few days per week, but like most women this seems to fall mostly on me.

On Tuesday this week I got both our little ones (ages 3 and 20 months) ready for school and off to daycare, worked 6 hours, got food for dinner and then picked up SD9 at her school at 4pm, then went to get the other two, came home by 430 and prepped homemade meatloaf and roasted veggies for dinner while the kids ran around like wild Banshees underfoot.

When DH came home at 5 I gave him the meal on trays to put in the oven because I was taking SD to gymnastics at 530 and heading out for a run. On Tuesday and Thursday she has gymnastics 530-630, so the 3 of us usually eat after she gets home at 645. Lately he and I have been mixing up who takes her and who stays with the other 2. So on Tuesday it was his job to put the food into the preheated oven and let it cook for 45 minutes, and take care of the littles until I got back with Sd.

As any parent of a toddler knows, ours turn into gremlins if they don't eat dinner by 530. So the person at home with them has to get some dinner into them. He did.

But when SD and I came back at 645 he acted like he had slaved away on dinner. He made sure to serve us out plates. He alwayd serves SD first in this context. Like, because? Is she dying of low blood sugar and needs the food in her right this second? I mean, he did this when she was 4 too, and it made sense to me then. She's almost 10. She didn't help make dinner- and he didn't either for that matter! He proceeded to sit down last and eat and midway through the meal commented how perfectly he had cooked the veggies. Never thanked me or mentioned any of my contributions to the day whatsoever.

This is why we're in counseling. But I guess I'm tired of being given a plate by my husband, and always 2nd in line to princess SD.
I cooked. Shouldn't I get to serve myself first? Or am I overthinking this?


Steptococci's picture

I could see my DH doing this too!

We buy SD's favorite flavor of ice cream (Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ben and Jerry's,) amidst a freezer full of good ice cream. DH loves ice cream and there's always 4-5 flavors in there.

And for awhile I never touched the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. All the other ice creams are fair game for everyone in the home- even the kids, but for some reason I always left this one alone, even though it's one of my favorites too. Then one day I felt like having some for dessert, and when I took it out of the freezer DH looked at me like I had 2 heads.

And I realized, this is SD's special ice cream that Stepmom isn't allowed to touch it - and the littles aren't supposed to have any either.

And then I thought, wait a second, Stepmom makes all the meals, and pays 1/2 the bills, and owns this house with DH, and does most of the grocery shopping, and picks up after SD and waits on SD, and shares everything with SD- and SD is a child. Stepmom buys most of the ice cream! This ISNT her ice cream.

So I eat it when I want it now. But I think it was a big adjustment for DH to accept that (and for me, to change my own behavior, since I've played into these little things all along and now I don't want to anymore.) But again, it's "just" ice cream. Just another little way she has a special place in the house above everyone else.

DaizyDuke's picture

I think you're overthinking. I always serve our BS7 first and DH always serves BS7 AND me before himself if he is cooking. To be honest, in my family (so my grandmother and mother)whoever was cooking was always the last to get their plate. Not sure if it is some old school rule or what? We have Thanksgiving at our house every year and I do ALL the cooking. We do like a buffet style where I put all the food out on the counter, but I ALWAYS insist that EVERYONE get their plates before I do and I always dish up BS7 first.

To be honest, I think this is pretty normal in every family. Kids get served first (for whatever reason) I'd let it go. To me, this is just being petty.

agitated's picture

In my house, I do most of the cooking too, but I dish all the plates out evenly (we never have leftover, so I want to make sure everyone gets equal shares). I then put mine and DH's plates on the table and call the kids for dinner. The kids' plates remain in the kitchen on the counter and they get them as they come down. We all WAIT to start eating however, until everyone is at the table.

fakemommy's picture

Have you spoken to DH about your feelings? I always serve the kids first, mainly because their food is better cooled off a bit and the adults like their food as warm as possible. I do serve the younger kids, but leave the older kids food on the counter because I'm not their servant. I do put their food on the plates though.

So, I do think it is normal to serve kids first, however, if you feel this way, your feelings are valid, but you have to give DH a chance to understand your feelings by talking with him. If you talk with him, and he doesn't take your feelings into consideration, that's the time to get mad.

ESMOD's picture

I guess we always fed the kids first too. I would usually make a plate for the girls with a reasonable portion (to avoid the issue another SM has of kids having eyes bigger than their stomach). We would generally fix everyone's plates for them then call them to come get it from the kitchen to take to the table.

Then I let my DH fix his plate then I would fix mine.

Honestly, if you are worried about her getting preferential bits of dinner, I would be in there myself fixing my own plate }:)

moeilijk's picture

Obviously the issue isn't who got their plates first, that's just a symptom of you feeling unappreciated.

Here's what I would do:

I'd say to DH that I could see he wanted his contribution to dinner acknowledged, but that it felt like a competition because he didn't acknowledge my contribution. And that it's important that we both find ways to show our appreciation for what the other contributes to our family.

I'd say that I want to improve in that area. And ask if he has ideas. Doesn't matter if he does, because you do. Here it is!

When you sit together as a family for dinner, you say to him, "You know, love, one thing I really appreciated that you did/about you today was xyz." And if he doesn't shortly reciprocate, ask him. "What was something you appreciated about me today?"

Be prepared with some things for him to appreciate. If you have to give a suggestion, he should be elaborating on why that was so freaking awesome of you. If you have to give a suggestion ALLLLL the time, there's something else going on.

Because deep down, I think he was wanting you to notice him. And being an idiot like so many of our partners are, he doesn't realize that the quickest way to get noticed is to pay attention to you.

secret's picture

I usually cook... and I cook enough for 8 adult plates. There are 5 of us that eat about the same amount... SS eats, but smaller portions... and there's enough for seconds if anyone wants any... leftovers get packed up for lunches for DH and me.

I let everyone know dinner is ready in 5 minutes... that's their cue to go wash their hands, help set the table etc... everyone gets a plate... and they WAIT for everyone to be served and seated. Well except SS, but he's working on it. Sometimes he remembers, sometimes he doesn't - he gets reminded and is getting pretty good about it.

If someone isn't hungry just yet, they don't have to eat... but their plate stays on the counter, and they're responsible for covering it/packing it and they must eat it when they get hungry, not something else.

Unless they're sick. Then they can have soup. lol

Steptococci's picture

Thanks for the feedback, everyone- and yeah I can see why and how we get into a pattern of the kids getting served first, from a practical standpoint. And definitely as the cook I usually serve everyone else, then myself last.

DH started asking SD to wait for us to sit down before eating a year or so ago, because I pointed out to him that it seems kind of rude for her to start eating before everyone else.

But he has this thing where he thinks she "won't" eat, or can't eat, so he likes to make her start before us, which he thinks will even out the time it takes to get through the meal. I get tired of watching her pretend to eat so when I'm done I usually get up and start cleaning dishes.

The annoying thing to me is that she will eat, and she's always "saving room". For mac and cheese or a hotdog she'll eat in 5 minutes. When it's something more grown up she stalls and pushes food around and talks nonstop and drags out the meal. She used to hide food in her napkin etc but I think that's stopped. She only eats enough to pass DH's approval for dessert. She has dessert every night. So dinnertime often feels like a weird game. Him serving her first feels like part of the game. And subtly, (because I'm hungry maybe!) it kind of makes me feel like she does actually come first to see him serving it up to her ahead of us.

And those of you who pointed out this is really about DH - it is- yes, thanks for noticing, because it always is. DH repeatedly takes credit for things he didn't really do. (just like his mother.)

He has a history of taking credit for my work or my accomplishments and diminishing my contribution to things, especially in front of other people. So when I work all day, manage the household needs, go to the store, get all the kids, and make a meal for all of us form scratch that is something the kids love, and DH does nothing but *PUT IT IN THE OVEN*, then claims credit for it, that makes me really mad.

And the way our family used to work was on activities days (M, T, TH) I'd always be at home with the littles and he'd be off driving SD around to her gymnastics then doing things for himself, and then they'd both come home hungry at 645 expecting me to have fed/ bathed/ and maybe even put to bed two babies, AND made dinner for the 3 of us. So when he would serve SD first on top of that, it really felt icky, as you can imagine. I think this week DH did want to feel appreciated because he did me the HUGE favor of watching our littles so I could leave with SD and go for a run. But then he had to go claim credit for making the meal, which is, whatever...

Long explanation over such a silly little thing I know. But as our therapist says, "it's the little foxes that kill the vineyard" right? (;

moeilijk's picture

First of all, those nights are now crockpot meal nights. Stop with making it more work than the bare minimum.

DH is an idiot with dessert etc. And why does it matter if you all finish at the same time? Isn't it STARTING at the same time that's polite? And it's not a race anyway!

But, it's probably a losing battle to try to get something more healthy going on with SD and DH at mealtime.

OTOH, there is something deeply unhealthy about your DH taking credit for things he didn't do, worse that they're yours, and really, so bad that he'd diminish you ever, never mind in front of others. I would stop caring about dinner altogether until there was a 180 there.

Steptococci's picture

Oh believe me I love the crockpot! We're both working demanding jobs but I work fewer hours, so kind of assume the other 10 hrs of my week are devoted to household stuff and taking care of kids etc and I try to cook more... Fine.

But oh how I love the crockpot! The problem with it is still the prep, shopping, chopping, planning- again- If i don't make a plan for the meals of the week on Sunday he does nothing and tries to decide what we're doing about dinner at 5 pm every day on his way home from work. And the crockpot definitely requires more forethought, as you know.

Usually we take shortcuts w/ foods that are pre-marinated or pre-chopped or whatever, or in the case of Tuesday, I was actually trying to buy the meatloaf at the store, (local grocer actually carries it fresh) and they were out. So, in a pinch I made it myself. It was kind of a cluster-f, rushed day. I still don't think a person who puts the pre-made food in an oven of 350 degrees for 45 minutes is a hero for doing so. Go figure (:

And yes, we're in therapy because I can barely stand this about DH. I'm sick of being diminished and controlled by him and his absurd expectations and his failure to recognize my strengths or contributions.
I almost don't like him anymore. Guess we have our work cut out for us.

moeilijk's picture

Frozen chicken breasts, can of cream of mushroom soup, and, if you're all fancy, salt and pepper.

I have about 20 recipes for the crockpot (but I'm in the Netherlands, so I have it all organized by the products/product sizing over here). None of them take more than 15 minutes to prep. And never more than 20 minutes to the table (rolls you finish baking at home, or rice, or pasta). I know this is not your REAL problem, but those pre-chopped veggies make great soups for example...

On a cluster-F day, go to eggs on toast for dinner. That works in our house. Or crackers and raisins for the 3 yo. Lol.

Yeah. He needs to figure this out and fast. We want to share our lives with people who champion us. Not with the people who try to knock us down. Of course.

Tomatoe's picture

If i plate meals then kids (teens now) are served first. If they plate their own they go first but are reminded others haven't eaten. It helps them to take smaller portions and think of others. At family get togethers we start plates in groups. Littles, kids then teens and last is adults.

I think your picking to pick on this.

BethAnne's picture

In my house my husband usually serves the food and sd gets served first, then me and then my husband serves himself. But we follow the etiquette that you wait for everyone to have food and be seated before starting your meal, occasionally we do not but we are in the habit of checking with the others if they mind if we start before them. Sometimes it is ok, sometimes we wait.

SM12's picture

The truth is...Your DH isn't thinking about who gets served first at all. At least not in a way that he is doing it maliciously. I think he just is thinking, get the kids settled and then we eat. I can see how it would carry over as they got older.

I had an issue similar at dinner time when we had all four kids at the house.

I would cook dinner, the SS's would all come in and grab heaping piles of food, DH would then join in and grab a heaping pile of food and there would only be enough left for one person while BS and I had not got our food yet. Of course then the SS's wouldn't even begin to eat all the food they grabbed so it was wasted. That happened a few times before I put my foot down. No more of that crap. I started dishing out the plates myself...starting with BS. Then DH, then the Spawn. I would get mine last, which I never minded, but I always made sure there was enough for me to eat as well.

Now, however, I rarely cook. We only have YSS coming now and he is happy with whatever DH makes.

Tuff Noogies's picture

i wouldn't worry about dh serving sd9. hell, my dh still serves and ss is 17!!! dh and i just serve ourselves. i'm sure your sd is very hungry by 645p if she's had nothing to eat since lunch - is she getting a decent snack when she gets home at 430?

BUT as you're already aware, your biggest issue is your dh minimizing you. no bueno.

one other quick note about the crock-pot, can you just to all your prep as soon as you get back from the grocery store and have "meal kits" packaged together in the fridge? then it could just be a dump-and-go thing...

Steptococci's picture

Yes - she always has a snack. She carries granola bars in her bag from school so she might eat one in the car from school, and I always offer her something at home. The tricky thing with her is her not really wanting to eat her dinner, because she's "saving room" for dessert. So we're not talking about a starving kid.

But yes the crockpot prep would be amazing. I need to get off my a** on weekends and do that. As soon as some company starts making them to order for delivery to my doorstep I'll be all over it. (:

Thanks for your perspective. I'm edgy because of years of seeing DH put SD on a pedestal (even over the other two kids) and now I'm at a point where I don't know if my judgement of these situations is fair or correct, or maybe just paranoid, out of our history and my frustration with DH.

Peridwen's picture

IMHO, it's not SD getting served first that's bothering you. But it's the easiest thing to pick out at the time you are being bothered. I'm guessing it's more of him acting like he did it all (stealing credit and giving you no appreciation), irritation because you are the one running around like a madwoman and his job is 'simpler' (put prepped meal in oven, serve to kids), and your DH getting played by a 7yo to get dessert/an alternate meal.'

Though now I read through all the comments and realize that you've come to that realization. It's time for a sit down with your DH. Lay out what you need and what you're willing to give.

'DH, I need you recognize what I am doing is just as busy and exhausting as what you are doing. Neither of us has an easy time. We both work full time. We both have kids to take care of after work. Running around delivering SD to her activities is exhausting. So is making sure the dinner I prepped earlier is in the oven, feeding the younglings, and getting them to bed before the SD and whichever adult has her gets home.
I feel frustrated and unappreciated when you act like watching the younglings is a favor to me and that you have done all of the work for dinner. I feel hurt that it seems like everything I do is taken for granted. To resolve this, I would like to do something like....
list of your ideas for making the evenings easier ie,

  • crockpot meals,
  • your DH doing all the prep as well as cooking,
  • your DH running around with SD and putting the plates for you two and SD in the oven when he gets home so you are not struggling with a time crunch to get the littles to bed,
  • etc

    Do you have any ideas, DH?'

  • Acratopotes's picture

    I'm the evil one.... you never get a thank you for dong anything... simply stop then.

    Dh can from now on take SD to what ever practice at all times, you stay home and make a quick dinner.... then you feed your kids and eat self as well, DH and SD can have dinner when they come back, DH can dish up for the both of them..
    why should your kids eat alone without an adult but SD gets to have her dinner with both adults?

    If you have to take SD, then you do nothing for dinner, then dinner is all alone on DH's shoulders... sorry you where busy..... he never thanks you for dinner, then you simply do not thank him, and when you walk in, simply dish up for you and have dinner...

    But I think it's a good custom to thank people for the food, and I feel you need to eat with your children, regardless their age, how else will they learn to have manners Wink ... see a very good excuse as well lol

    sunshinex's picture

    Literally this lol I wouldn't prep food for him/SD if he didn't say thank you, let alone if he acted like he did all the work. That's crappy and wouldn't feel too nice after lugging around someone else's kid and missing dinner with your own.