I’m not quite sure whether to jump for joy or weep into my coffee. Why? Because with my youngest starting Junior Infants this week, both my children are now at school. It’s a strange feeling; a mixture of pride, joy and nostalgia. How did those years go by so quickly? How did those tiny babies grow up so fast? I’m sure these are thoughts being shared by many parents around the country this week.
Of course, it’s lovely to have a little bit of ‘me time’ back. Now, I have no excuse for putting off that daily morning walk I’ve been talking about since September 2010. Now, I can sit at my desk and get on with my job, without getting up to every ten minutes to separate Lego bricks or wipe up a spilt drink or find a lost teddy. I will have the peace and quiet I have craved so often – but I will miss the chaos.
Thankfully, my boys are still young enough to allow me to kiss them goodbye in the school yard. I still get smothered with hugs when they come home and I am still needed to patch up wounded knees and over-loved teddies. I am also, of course, still needed to provide an endless supply of food. The packed lunches are going well (so far) and appetites are definitely increasing after a busy day at school. With the nip of autumn already in the air, I’m looking forward to making warming soups and stews for my hungry boys. Of course, they will refuse to eat them, but I will continue to make them anyway in the hope that one day … one day …
With ‘Back to School’ there comes the inevitable return to the old routines. Everything has to be that bit more regimented. Homework – check. Dinner – check. Showers – check. Bedtime – check. The whole day seems to be managed on the basis that ‘you have to be up early for school tomorrow.’ And I find that what you put on the table for dinner can make or break the entire day. If it’s a pasta carbonara night, everyone runs to the table and devours the lot. If it’s salmon we may meet with some resistance and if it’s the dreaded stew … shudder.
Having fought over the years about peas and broccoli, things touching each other on the plate and arms which are simply too exhausted to lift a knife and fork, I think I am now battle scarred enough to face whatever new forms of mealtime protest my little soldiers throw at me. Slotted spoon at the ready, I will face them head on.
Funny though, how I can now laugh at the little things they said when they were just toddlers. And I quote:
- That’s too soft, I only like crunchy things
- But that tomato is too bendy
- Well, it’s just that those carrots are touching the peas
- Yukky. That bit of the banana is dirty
- I WANTED CHEESE ON TOAST, NOT CHEESE SANDWICHES
- It’s just that my tummy is SO full but my pudding tummy is still hungry
- But I can’t eat it mummy because THIS IS THE WRONG SPOON
- I’m too tired to eat cucumber
- That’s got peppers in it and they make me cough
- But if I eat all this, then I won’t have room for any telly
The protests about what’s on their dinner plate may change slightly, but the sentiment remains the same.
Perhaps they are growing up too quickly, but reassuringly, some things never change!
For loads of great meal ideas and easy recipes for healthy family meals, check out the Tesco Real Food page where you can search for recipes by ingredient, type of meal, cooking time or type of cuisine. There is also a great section for family meals on a budget.