Ah, the dreaded Bedtime Snack. Arriving so soon after supper that I was often still elbow-deep in dishwater. Demands for variety, for a veritable menu of choices. Each child requesting something different. Spoons and bowls and crumbs and complaints. The growing suspicion that bedtime snack had become a more important meal, for some, than supper itself. Something had to give.
This was Kevin’s solution.
I didn’t post it immediately upon signing because I wanted to see whether or not it would stick. It didn’t entirely work over Christmas, what with the endless parade of eating and the crazy party hours we were keeping. But it’s been working pretty smoothly on more ordinary evenings.
Here is the full text:
BEDTIME SNACK AGREEMENT
This agreement is between “The Parents” and “The Kids”
Whereas, The parents agree to provide a substantial supper, NOTWITHSTANDING inedible suppers, the kids agree to receive a bedtime snack with no plate including but not limited to Apple slices and carrot sticks.
This agreement supercedes all previous agreements.
Signed at WATERLOO Dec. 21, 2011.
Aside from revealing my husband’s predeliction for random capitalization and punctuation (and the fact that I, his loving wife, will not let such things just pass by), the agreement highlights several important points: 1. no dirtying dishes post-supper 2. eat your supper 3. inedible means actually inedible not merely inedible in one person’s opinion.
For the past number of evenings, we’ve been snacking on apple slices and carrot sticks between episodes of Modern Family, which everyone in our house loves equally. Occasionally a cookie is thrown into the mix (no plate, ergo acceptable snack). We’ve even had several blissful evenings, post-supper, when all of the children have worked together with the parents to clear the table, help with the dishes, tidy the living-room and countertops, and vacuum–all in anticipation of the reward of sitting together as a family to watch Modern Family episodes.
We’ve never been a TV family, but there’s something so deeply pleasurable about sharing downtime together. We work together, then we get to hang out together. There’s a real connection to be made between effort and reward; and best of all, the work and responsibility is shared out, as in the snack agreement, not dumped on one or two in service to the rest. I don’t know whether this marks a lasting change–whether it will survive the return to routine and busyness–but let us hope so (or as Kevin might write let Us hope so). Because it’s been brilliant.