Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Picky Eaters

Want your kids to be more adventurous at dinner time?

Getting kids to eat different and new foods can be a challenge at times and  I am sure all parents will struggle with this at some point in their lives.  The struggle comes from not wanting to wage war during dinner time, forcing your child to eat or giving up entirely and letting the child eat whatever they want. I usually cook dinner most nights and I only cook one dinner.  I refuse to cook multiple meals to please every one's appetite, I mean if I wanted to be a short order cook, I would get a job at a restaurant. 

So how does one get their kids to eat without dinner time turning into a battle of the wits?  Here are some of the tips that really have helped me in helping my kids eat better and not be so picky.

1.  Don't disguise food.  Lately, it seems everything I read about raising healthy eaters involve some sort of trickery, disguising food so your child does not realize they're actually eating healthy.  This is a mistake; if you disguise everything to taste like chicken nuggets, you've only managed to enforce to your child that the only food they should like is chicken nuggets.  This could really backfire on you down the road.

2. You have to try everything every time.  We have a rule in our house:  You must try everything on your plate every time.  Just because they didn't like meatloaf the last time I served it, doesn't get them a free pass to not try it this time.  I realize that my kids are not going to like everything I make, they are real people with their own tastes and preferences, but they still have to try it.  When I say "try it", I mean one bite, not eat everything on their plate.  When serving a main dish that I know is not a favorite, I do try to serve side dishes that I do know they like.

3. Model good eating habits.  Since instituting rule #2, I have also applied the same rule to myself.  If I expect my children to follow this rule, so can I.  If you are not willing to eat the veggies how can you expect your kids to be excited about them?

4. Don't force kids to clean their plates.  I just do not like this idea as I feel it sends the wrong message about food. 

5. Deflect the attention away from the food. When my kids are about to try something they're less than thrilled about trying I ask a fun question right as they're taking the bite.  Engaging them in a conversation I know they'll be excited to talk about.  I find that if I can deflect the attention on something other than the food, they'll end up forgetting about what they're eating and finish most of it before they realize what happened.  I have found that if my husband or I make a big deal out of taking just that one bite and silently wait for a reaction we get a dramatic display of how terrible the food tasted. 

6. Make dinner time fun.  Create a fun dinner time atmosphere, where everyone tells funny stories, jokes and talks about their day.  My kids love to cook, so I try to find something for them to help with as I am preparing dinner and  they get more excited about the food, they "cooked" themselves.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sending Sick Kids to School

Why do people love to bring their sick kids out in public?  This is something I will never understand.  Yes, I realize that sometimes kids get sick at the most inconvenient times like right as school is starting but that is not an excuse to keep them there.

Today as I dropped my son off at preschool, another mother was carrying her daughter into my son's classroom.  She stopped to chat with the woman I was talking to and mentioned her daughter was not feeling well today but that she was pretty sure it was just allergies causing her to be sick.  Fine, I'm thinking she probably just has a runny nose and cough, two ailments that don't require a kid to be quarantined at home.  Right as she was walking away though, the little girl happened to mention how she just threw up all over another kid!  The mom, who happens to be a teacher at the school, just sort of laughed it off and mentioned she was sure it was just the allergies again.

If your kid just threw up all over another kid at school, it's time to go home.  I was stunned into silence as I watched her walk into my son's class to drop off her sick daughter. 

Don't Be A Slave to Sleep Schedules

Don't let the fear of interrupting sleep schedules
keep you locked in your house!

After the birth of a baby, most of us will spend an insane amount of time trying to get that baby on some sort of schedule.  Trying everything in our power to ensure that the baby actually sleeps during the night and takes regular naps during the day.  Once the schedule has been set, the thought of actually disrupting that schedule may seem as appealing as stabbing a sharp knife through your hand.

That being said, you also don't want to live your life always navigating sleeping and eating schedules.  It is OK to skip a nap every so often or push bedtime back an hour or so to enjoy a family dinner or party with your kids.  Babies are resilient and will survive if nap time has to be adjusted every once in a while.   Trust me, if you try to plan every single event around nap and bedtime, you will pretty much count yourself out of any social event in your life for about 2 years or so. Not fun.

Just look at how much fun you can have during nap time:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Oops...More Public Highschool Blunders

What is happening in our public high schools? A group of seniors at a western Pennsylvania High School were treated to a video display at an assembly on the importance of giving blood.  According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the power point presentation that the kids were supposed to see was saved on a flash drive owned by one of the employees of the Central Blood Bank.  Also saved on that flash drive were pornographic images and unfortunately the file with the "graphically educational" images were mistakenly played instead of the appropriate file teaching the students the benefits of giving blood.   Apparently, the blood bank employee gave the flash drive to the assistant principal to play without telling him which file to play. 

I giggled when I read this story imagining myself as a senior in High School sitting in that assembly as I am sure I would have found it quite amusing and somewhat would have reaffirmed my opinion that the people in charge really were morons (I still don't feel that way).  I bet my parents would have had an altogether different reaction though.

I am gathering it was an unfortunate mistake and not done purposely, but I bet everyone did learn a valuable lesson that day; unfortunately I doubt it had to do with the benefits of giving blood.  I guess if it had to happen, at least it happened with an audience of 17 and 18 year olds and not during the elementary school presentation.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

How To Put An End To Sharing Battles

PLEASE; we say it's the magic word, but do we really know how powerful it can be with our kids?  My 5yr old and 3yr old spend A LOT of time playing together, so inevitably they spend about half of that time arguing. I try my best to stay out of their arguments and not get too involved. Honestly, most of the time I have no idea what happened or who was right, so I find it best to get them to work it out between themselves. Most of these arguments revolve around sharing toys and taking turns, and the backyard swing set is the scene of many of these battles. Basically, there are two swings and normally 3 kids playing so someone always gets left out. Once this happens the one who’s not swinging will make their way up the stairs, crying, to find me in hopes I will make someone take a turn. Usually, I would just say, “You need to work it out between yourselves”, or “Don’t worry, you’ll get a turn soon”, or yell outside, “Make sure everyone is sharing”. After saying these about a million times, I decided to try something different.
So the next time my son came crying up the stairs complaining that he wasn’t getting a turn on the swing, I told him “well maybe if you go down there and ask really nicely they’ll give you a turn.” I’ll admit I felt a twinge of guilt as he made is way down the stairs, feeling as if I just sent him into battle without an adequate weapon because I was pretty sure this tactic would fail. I heard him say, “Gracie, may I please have a turn on the swing?” My daughter said “Sure!” and happily hopped off the swing. I almost fell off my chair in shock, because about two minutes before, my son was down there screaming and crying about wanting a turn on the swing and was basically ignored. This must be a fluke I thought to myself.

It turns out this tactic has about a 99.8% effective rate and it makes me feel good too because it gives me something concrete to tell them to do without having to get involved. As I’ve been really paying attention now, I find that if one of the kids is throwing a tantrum regarding the swing (happens daily) the other kids will just ignore them or yell back at them, but when are asked politely, one kid will always eagerly offer up their swing. Now all I have to do is get them to remember to ask nicely on their own, without reminders from me…..

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Breastfeeding in Public

I am always slightly amused and mystified as to why people get so angry and offended at the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby. Sometimes in life people need to understand and realize that not every moment of every situation is about them and a little compassion and understanding can go a long way. What exactly about the act is offensive? The off-chance that you might catch a glimpse of cleavage? I imagine a person would have to be staring intently to see any cleavage from any of the mothers I have ever witnessed breastfeeding.

Most people who are offended by a woman breastfeeding in public are offended by the act and not the mere sight of a woman’s breast. I wonder if these same people are also outraged when they walk down a beach and see half naked woman prance around in bikinis. I doubt they even give it a second thought. I imagine you could argue that you would expect to see an exposed woman at the beach but not at a restaurant or mall, if that’s the case then people should come to expect to see a breastfeeding mom whenever they are at a place that they might also see a baby. If they come to expect it, then maybe they won’t be so shocked and disgusted.

I have also heard the argument that if mothers just planned a little bit better they would never have to actually breastfeed in public. HA! HA! I laugh because a person that actually has a baby would never make that comment. Kids and babies like to laugh in the face of our well laid out plans. Sometimes babies eat every hour and half during the first few months of life. So, if I were following the “just plan better” advice, I would feed the baby, then spend about 15 minutes getting ready to leave, get the baby buckled into the car, drive about 15 minutes and then I would have exactly 45 minutes before I had to leave and drive home to feed the baby again. Sounds fun! What if I have to drive further than 15 minutes? What if I have older kids that have obligations outside of the home? It’s not always feasible to “just plan better” , as there are events that might require a mother to be out of the house for longer than an hour an half. Even if a mom has nothing to do, but feels she just needs to get out, then so be it. By law (in most states) she has every right to feed her baby in any public place.

Most breastfeeding mothers I know are not trying to make a statement by nursing in public or trying to be offensive; they’re simply trying to meet the needs of their baby in the most discreet way possible. Breastfeeding in public is not something most mothers enjoy, so the next time you see a mom breastfeeding her baby, instead of giving her a disgusted look, try a simple smile and remember she is probably more uncomfortable than you.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Off To Kindergarten...

My oldest, my daughter entered into a new phase of life today: Kindergarten. She was so excited and bursting with joy from the moment she woke up this morning. I tried my best to hide my apprehension and nervousness about this new phase. Unfortunately, I failed because as the bus pulled up to pick her up, she turned and said, "Mom, don't worry about me while I'm at school, I'll be FINE!"

Will she find nice friends? Will other kids make fun of her? Will she find anyone to sit with on the bus? How will she know what to do when she gets off of the bus? These were the questions(and more) flooding through my mind this morning in anticipation of her leaving.

I know in my heart, she will be fine and have a wonderful day full of new adventures and new friends. I'll just have to file this away with all the other "firsts". Like the first time I left her with a babysitter and the first time I dropped her off at preschool. Even though it is difficult for me to let go at times, I know she will probably not even miss me, just like she enjoyed the other "firsts" as well.