How Rude Night Saved Dinnertime: A Fed Up Mother’s Tale

We’ve all had a moment…the one we don’t talk about. The moment only our best of friends know because anybody else might think you have a screw loose. I mean, in that moment you definitely think that the screw isn’t just loose, it is missing. You question why you even signed up for the mom gig in the first place.

Sometimes, drastic times call for drastic measures.

Let me set the table. The plates are all centered at each place; fork on the left, spoon and knife on the right. The glasses are filled with each person’s drink of choice and placed just above the spoon and knife. Everything is in it place and the food is placed in the middle of the table ready to be served “family style.” Dinner was normal for about 10 minutes. Then the noise started. Some singing followed. My oldest let out a belch which had 4 out of 5 diners in hysterics. Hubby followed up with a belch of his own and I’m pretty sure everyone forgot food was even on the table.

I was trying my hardest to get everyone to settle down and get back to the business of dinner. The kids were squatting in the chairs. The cacophony of everything was pure chaos. And, then, it happened…someone farted.

At MY dinner table!

I was stunned silent while everyone else was laughing so hard they were practically falling out of their chairs. That is when I lost my ever-loving mind. I stood up, took my plate to the kitchen, and threw it in the sink; all while screaming to my family about how horrible they are. While they crashed from their fun high, I stomped downstairs and sobbed.

The Light Bulb Moment

There is always a moment after the sobbing stops that I really hate the way I handled a situation. Instead of questioning my sanity I decided to question my approach. Why was dinner so important? What was the point I was trying to make and what were they to learn? How could I get both my dignified family dinners while everyone felt comfortable and relaxed at the table?

Then it hit me! We’d use a little bit of reverse psychology. I could continue fighting them on it or I could let them be rude. Crazy, right? Hear me out. If being rude wasn’t against the rules then the novelty of it would be lost. After getting hubby on board with the idea, we sat down with the kids and declared Sunday nights as Rude Night.

How Rude Night Works

There are also two exceptions to Rude Night. The first is that Rude Night will not commence if we have a non-Rude Night guest for dinner on a Sunday. The second is that if we are out to eat on a Sunday public manners are expected. Otherwise, Rude Night shenanigans are (in no particular order):

  • Seating is Optional –  Standing next to the chair? Go for it! Squatting in your seat like a caveman is perfectly legitimate. If you feel like putting your feet up in the empty chair across from you, then more power to you.
  • Manners are out the Window – Seriously, aside from some basic respect, you can behave however you like. There is no need to ask someone to pass the ranch dressing. Just reach over and grab it. Need the corn? Say it however you want and hope that someone is willing to oblige. Chewing with your mouth closed is discouraged and talking with your mouth full is expected.
  • Gross is Okay – *deep breath* Belching and all that jazz is allowed. Yep, you read that right. It’s all about letting go and letting them be on this one evening. Hysterically laughing is often the result. Meanwhile, I just roll my eyes and choose to ignore it.
  • No Participation Necessary – Nobody has to talk about their day. There is no need to engage anyone in conversation. Items such as cell phones, books, electronics, games, etc. can be brought to the table.
  • The Table is Optional – My favorite is to pick up my plate and head out of the dining room to my computer. Gaming and eating at the same time is a win-win for me. Sometimes, Netflix totes is the dinner companion for my kids and the teen retreats to her habitat for her meal.

Dinnertime is Saved

The results were better than I could have imagined! I knew my family had it in them to have normal dinners and it is so nice to know I am right. My kiddos are more than happy to be civilized 6 days of the week while they look forward to Rude Night. They even love sharing the night with any visiting extended family that is “lucky enough” to be here on a Sunday. The experience here has lent itself to the idea that if something is not off limits then it will hold less interest to the kids. It’s a mom-win moment when they get to think they are getting away with something and in return I get a well behaved dinnertime. The kids even police each other. If it’s a non-rude night and someone is stepping out of line another kid is likely to remind them, “it’s not Sunday!”

It may be a little unorthodox, but it saved my sanity.

What types of unorthodox parenting do you pull out for times that you just can’t take it any more? 

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Jenn is a self-proclaimed Iowa girl transplanted from the mitten state a decade ago. Jenn, along with her husband Ben, is raising 3 sweet little Fritzlings; Erin (16), Robbie (10), and Penelope (9). Aside from doing an awesome job at momming, she works part-time in retail to help fund the fun stuff. Jenn can be found with a good book, playing Sims 4, writing, gardening, geocaching, cycling, outdoorsing…or drinking 5 cups of coffee in her spare time. Like a cat in a sunbeam, Jenn's most favorite thing in the world is napping.