The 5 types of dinner you eat when you’re a parent

Dinner is a lovely time, where one can relax, reflect on the day’s activities, fill one’s belly with delicious food and ease towards the gentle rest of a peaceful night...

That is, if you don’t have kids. Having dinner as a parent is somewhat different, writes Evelyn Lewin.

Here are five types of parent dinners:

1. The Early Bird Special (having dinner with your kids)

Having dinner with your children is a great way to bond with them, model healthy behaviours and find out how your children are faring in their day-to-day lives. In theory, that is. In reality, having dinner with your kids is often about shoveling as much food as you can into your own mouth, in between going back and forth to get your kids water, more food, napkins, and more napkins (for the water they just spilled). Plus, there’s the added joy of knowing that, if you eat dinner with your kids, you now eat at the same time as the pub early-bird special. You do realise this makes you on par with a senior citizen, right?

2. The Eating Your Kids’ Leftovers Dinner

For many busy parents, the word ‘dinner’ is a bit of a euphemism. Instead of eating hot food off a plate, parents are more likely to scoff down cold scraps off several plates. You may even do this all while flitting between other activities. Because – let’s face it – you’re a mama, and you ain’t got no time to slow things down just because it’s eating time.

3. The Pre-Dinner Dinner

For parents, the evening meal is often split in two. You see, there’s the ‘pre-dinner’, and the ‘late dinner’. Or that’s what we like to tell ourselves, anyway. The ‘pre-dinner’ is the food you eat while joining your kids when they have dinner. The ‘late dinner’ is the food you then eat about three hours later, when the kids are in bed and you’re hungry again. Try not to think of this as having ‘two dinners’. Such thinking can lead to bad feelings. Instead, simply tell yourself one of these meals is the ‘pre-dinner’ and the other is the ‘late dinner’ and voila, problem solved.

4. The Brinner

We all know about brunch (where breakfast meets lunch). Introducing: Brinner (where breakfast meets dinner). Brinner is a common evening meal for many parents. After you’ve fed your kids, the last thing you want to do is cook. And yet, you also need to appease that rumbling in your belly. While we try to steer our kids away from sugary cereals, we all know a bowl of cereal is an appealing dinner option for parents because it’s a) easy to prepare b) edible and c) easy to clean up after. On a side note, eggs also make an excellent brinner. (Plus, if you have eggs for brinner you get the added bonus of feeling justifiably smug for choosing such a healthy meal.)

5. Dinner without the kids

On the rare occasion you get to eat out without the kids, relish this experience, mama bear. Savour not only the taste of adult food, but also the lack of sticky hands pulling you away from your seat. Marvel at the way your cutlery stays where you last left it (without being flung across the room). Be blown away by how clean the table stays during the meal (who knew such a feat was even possible?). Soak in the ambience that is not having children screaming for something or other. Lap up the fact that someone else is bringing you food, and that you will not be asked 70 times for water by a child who is more than capable of getting himself his own drink. Sure, the actual food at the restaurant may not be gourmet, but if you get to indulge in this experience while seated (and you don’t have to eat at the ungodly hour of 5pm), then you’re bound to enjoy every last mouthful.

What type of parent dinner do you eat most often?

Photo: Grace Alyssa Kyo