Say No To Snack Bags!

Think about the snacks you keep in your bag for your children…do they really need it?

Here’s the deal-when I carried a diaper bag for the first few years of my children’s lives, it made sense to have snacks. Their rapidly growing bodies and short attention spans necessitated the food items, mostly for my benefit. It was for me-not for my own consumption, but because if they snacked while I was busy doing an errand, etc. the task was more likely to be completed.  
The truth is that we all like to eat. Eating releases some of the feel good hormones, it keeps our mouthes busy, and if we are really hungry, helps reduce “Hanger.” Infants, toddlers, and maybe preschoolers need snacks while you are out and about living life, but then those kids grow up. And caregivers do not need to have an endless supply of snacks available.  
At the pool this summer I heard “Mom do you have any snacks?” This was approximately 5 minutes after we arrived and 30 minutes after we ate lunch. So my response, OF COURSE, was “None at the moment. Go play.” The reality is that I typically do not pack a lot of food options if I know we are going to be gone for a few hours. And this is when the kids will be swimming, burning calories, and getting tired. Can you believe it?  
This mean Mom recognizes that children should not have access to food at all hours of the day. The children of today, who are used to instant gratification, should learn their body’s hunger sensations and recognize that good eating habits are crucial for overall health.  They should be taught (yes, one more job for busy parents) to develop good eating habits at an early age.
The average child requires 3 meals and 2 snacks to get through the day. But the same children may be better eaters if they snack less. Especially because if you look at most of the snacks we pack for our children have less than ideal nutritional value. Goldfish crackers are not a good snack in case you were not aware, but they are easy to pack, so we bring them. Let them wait for dinner when the veggies will be more easily consumed because they are hungry. They will be more likely to eat well because they did not fill up on other stuff.
Do I win the award for most nutritious foods offered to my family every day of the week? NO! But do I strive to teach my children about healthy eating habits? Absolutely! And this starts with saying “No” to the endless snacks that my kids will ask for.
So I challenge you to say “No” to the snacks that are in your bag. You are not a walking vending machine!!! Do you agree?

Food Allergies-what’s a parent to do?

Food Allergies are everywhere. In the past few years the number of children diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities has sky rocketed. Research is ongoing, but one of the theories is that we helped create this problem by avoiding foods in infancy. When I think back to the advice given around introducing solids, we were very cautious. We instructed families to avoid peanuts and nut products for 1-2 years. We skipped the seasoning, the healthier fats, and were generally afraid to give foods that were not overly basic-at least in the beginning. 

Interestingly, other countries did not take this approach to food allergies. In many other cultures, a wide variety of foods is offered as early as 3 months. These foods are mixed together. The foods have spices. And as a result, food allergies are not as prevalent and children are better eaters. Interesting, right?  

So the pendulum has swung back and we are now sending a different message. Pregnant mamas are encouraged to eat a wide variety of foods, including peanut butter. Breastfeeding mothers are also told to eat everything in the hopes that the ever-changing milk taste and scent will improve our countries picky eaters. See this article which I thought was interesting as well: 

http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/well/2016/03/28/how-breast-feeding-can-broaden-a-childs-diet/?_r=0&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2F

 

Additionally, we hope that there will be fewer food allergies and sensitivities. What a wonderful concept-eat well and your children will benefit when you start at conception and continue throughout their lifetime. Is this a brilliant new idea? I think it is common sense, but what do I know.

 

But the truth is that some of us have food allergies. And this is tricky. Finding foods to eat that will not upset a baby’s tummy, let alone cause and anaphylactic response, is hard. It may seem quite daunting at first. This is because we are creatures of habit and we eat what is familiar to us. So change then becomes hard. 

 

Here is an approach to consider. Pretend you are in another country and you are not familiar with the local foods and produce. Imagine that everything is new and different. You need to look at it, read the label, and do a little homework to figure out how to prepare. It can be a game if you will. There will be success and failure of new recipes. But eventually you get steady on your feet and figure out this new style of eating. See that is not so hard is it?

 

I recently was introduced to a website that I found extremely helpful. http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/page/recipes-diet.aspx

It has so much information that I was immediately impressed. There are recipes, research, links to online support, etc. If you have a child with a sensitivity or food allergy I would highly recommend it.

Do you have any tips?

Somewhere Between Helicopter Parenting and Free Range Parenting Is a Good Place To Land

I often find myself telling my kids to “be careful” in the most mundane circumstances. Be careful- pouring the milk. Be careful- climbing on the slide. Be careful- when you get into the tub. And then I pause to ask myself why I do it. It’s like a gut reaction that I can’t stop. Why do they need to be careful?
There is a bumper sticker that I really love. “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” Does a similar sentiment apply to kids? Careful children don’t learn as much as the ones who take chances-I wonder.
According to the Webster’s dictionary, one definition for careful is “marked by wary caution or prudence.” One of the joys of childhood is jumping in with both feet. Kids instinctively explore and act impulsively. And I think in most situations, they learn a lot in the process. Sure, accidents can happen, but most of all there is a whole lot of discovery.
Recently my daughter decided to climb a rock wall. She has done so many times with her grandmother at the YMCA. And she does it with confidence and enthusiasm. But this rock wall was outside (and very, very high.) She donned a helmet and the harness. She climbed up like a spider monkey. It was all good until she reached the top. At the top, fear set in and tears began to fall. I felt helpless as I watched her crying out to me. But as we cheered her on and offered reassurance, I knew she would ultimately gain strength. I was so glad she had the opportunity to try.

I am learning to let go and give my children more and more responsibilities. I hope that they value their mistakes and remember that risks are worth taking. I want them to climb to the top of the jungle gym. I want them to approach a new situation with confidence. I want them to fail so they learn to persevere.
The next time you tell your children to be careful, ask yourself if you should. (And for the record, my daughter made it down safely and smiled once her feet were on the ground.)

Kids and Money

I love most of the concepts and ideas shared in this piece about money.  But in my opinion, you can start teaching children some monetary concepts before the tooth fairy comes.  In fact, I think that might be too late.

Talking about what we NEED to spend money on is something you can start at a very early age.  We started this before my kids were in preschool whenever we went to Target.  (I know, you are one of the many people who go to Target for one thing and end up leaving with 10 things…maybe some things you didn’t need.)  We need to spend money on food, clothing, and shelter.  We did not need new crayons.  This early dialogue is a great way to start kids thinking about money.

How have you taught your kids about money?

Read this article for more insight.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/on-parenting/dont-shy-away-teach-kids-about-money-from-the-start/2015/03/10/ffdc7ab4-c101-11e4-9ec2-b418f57a4a99_story.html

Reading with Kids

Every Monday a blank reading log comes home from school.  We are “supposed” to fill out the books read each night and document the time spent reading.  I will admit publicly, I think it is ridiculous.  But it is not because I do not think kids should be reading every day…

Reading is fun!  Reading brings you to new places, offers new friends, and opens up minds.  So why do we have to be so structured about recording it?  Does reading the cards on the Life game count?  What about reading recipes?  Or even reading instructions for putting together a new toy?

I get it, we need to document reading to make sure kids understand how important it is.  But I think the reading log is not the answer.  I did love the list below!  It has creative ways to get kids to read more because it challenges them to find books they are interested in.  And that will make them want to read more.

How do you encourage reading in your home?

Check out this year of reading challenges!

http://imaginationsoup.net/2015/01/a-year-of-reading-challenges-kids/