The parenting F word – frustration

The new VSHQ. A spot for everyone, even the papertoy monsters.

Recently I spent two days up a ladder turning my spare little gimp room into a family office. I lovingly tended every square centimetre with 3 coats of white paint to turn the dark dump into a THING OF BEAUTY that the whole family could share. Each of us had a spot. A desk. A pencil holder. One of those cool, Smiggle 6-colour pens. We all belonged.

The result was so gorgeous that I was quite in love with myself. I wanted to just go into this room and lay on the floor and lick it. It was deliciously schmick and we all moved in.

One week later I discovered that Miss Fruitarian had decided to show Mr Meat & Potatoes the joy of splatter painting. In the new office. She had procured a toothbrush from god-knows-where, dug out her full palette of watercolours and GONE FOR IT on her desk. And since it is HER desk, she didn’t feel the need for any kind of time-wasting preparation materials such as protective newspaper.

I am of course, piecing events together in a CSI fashion, but it seems apparent to me that mid-way through her masterpiece she had second thoughts. So the blood paint trail changed from a fine spray to dollops across the carpet as she made a quick getaway to the back deck. And across the back deck, to the table, where the splatter-fest continued. But at some point, clean up was required, so the large water container was emptied over the railing. Which was possibly a good idea, except that below at that point, was the path, so the now browny-green water was splattered over the railing, down the side of the house and all over the stone pathway.

Now I wouldn’t have discovered this so soon if we hadn’t decided to eat outside that night. Which of course we had to do because all of the dining table chairs were being used to hold up the lounge room cubby, which was full of every single stuffed toy from the two bedrooms upstairs. Plus most of the plastics from my kitchen. Apparently the toys were whipping up dinner.

And did I mention that later that same day, Miss F went on to ‘create’ a kangaroo made from tissues, wading and reused bits of fluff from her end-of-year ‘Cats’ dance costume? Again, in the newly refurbished office.

By the end of the day I was ready to kill. My best friend and I did paper, scissors, rock to work out who got the enviable task of dishes and cleaning the entire kitchen and who was going to be in charge of getting the kids washed, teeth brushed and into bed. I won and spent a delightfully quiet half hour cleaning up all of the breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes….ahhhhhh bliss…

Did you read the Huffington post article about parenting recently? Summed it up nicely, the dichotomy between overwhelming parental love and the tedium and hell of the every day. There is SO much work and slavery and boredom in being a mum that it really does grind you down. I can totally see how various pressure points compete and healthy food gets shoved further down the list in favour of sleep, silence and compliance.

The trick is though, to realise when food is actually the answer to the other problem areas as well. Well fed children, full of nutrients tend to behave better. They have full tummies, steady sugar levels and enough (but not too much) energy. They will play without crashing but sleep well at night. They get sick less often too. So perhaps it’s the times when you’re in your parenting lows that you need to stop, focus and rethink things, find the motivation to take on the food battles and get some healthy food into your little lovelies and see what difference it makes.

But trust me, they still make mess, regardless. It appears no amount of vitamins can stop that – sorry.

Here’s a nutritious dinner that is quick to cook and sneaks in heaps of vegies – even cannellini beans.

Get through to the end of the day, no worries.

Quick pasta bake

250g pasta (shell or penne is good)
1 cup broccoli florets
400g can chopped tomatoes
400ml bottle tomato pasta sauce
400g can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
½ red capsicum, seeded, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, grated
125g can corn kernels, drained
Handful of basil or parsley, finely chopped
2 cups grated cheese (cheddar/mozzarella mix is good)

Preheat oven to 200°C. Cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain and set aside.

Place the broccoli in a microwave-proof dish with a drizzle of water, cover and zap on high for 1 minute or until just tender. Feel free to blitz the broccoli with a stick blender if your kids will pick out bits.

In a large bowl, mix together the pasta and all of the vegies, sauce, beans and herbs. Season with black pepper to taste. Mix through half the cheese. Spoon the pasta mixture into an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden.


You might also like to try….
Baked tuna and tomato rice
Lulu’s favourite Tuna pasta bake


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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Melissa said,

    I hear you about the F word! My two kids are forever pulling things out of the cupboard and making a mess while trying to create their masterpieces. I love that they TRY to be creative, but could they be a bit tidier!
    The pasta bake looks delicious and so easy. Will have to give it a go for a night when I’m working and don’t have time to make a fancy dinner.

  2. 3

    Ruth said,

    Very impressed with this recipe. Both my kids loved it. Usually the beans would have been picked out but I used macaroni and it was like the beans just blended in.

  3. 5

    Niki said,

    I so love this post – it really captures a day in the life of school holidays – can’t wait to try the dish too. Thanks.

  4. 7

    Kym said,

    Wendy, that is a classic post. It left me in stitches because it was so well written and so close to home! Love your honesty and thanks for the laugh today!
    Did you get all the paint off from her desk and everywhere else?

    Oh and the pasta bake rocks, I’ve made it also. I cooked all my vegies a little more before the oven stage as the kids picked out any crunch! Thanks again

  5. 9

    Mel B said,

    I’ve just put this in the oven now 🙂

  6. 11

    Iris said,

    Great article! We are linking to this particularly great content on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

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