Picky Eating Chronicles – My #1 Tip for Parents of Picky Eaters

One morning this spring as my son was getting ready for school, I noticed that his hair was wet.  I asked him why and he told me “I had something in it, so Grandma washed it out.”  It was only later that I heard the full story from my mom.  She had gone into the bathroom to shower and found Tyler in there just about ready to cut something “sticky, like a gumdrop” out of his hair (that would have been bad, considering his last cut-my-own-hair incident hasn’t fully grown out yet).  Any guesses on what that sticky thing was?  A fiber gummy vitamin – one he must have hidden in his bed instead of eating it as he told me he had.  *sigh*

That is just the latest in what has been our ongoing battle with our kids’ picky eating habits and our quest to get them to ingest something even partially close to the nutrients they need every day.  I know I’m not alone in this – plenty of children have eating issues of one sort or another and there are a lot of parents out there dealing with their own children’s eating habits with varying degrees of success (and frustration).  It has been a topic of conversation with my friends, family, and other parents many many times.  I have often been tempted to start writing a “Picky Eating Chronicles” series and with our latest brilliant idea (more on that soon!) being put into action this week, it seems like it would be a good time to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard) and share what I have learned so far.

Picky Eating #1 Tip for Parents of Picky Eaters

My oldest is 11, and my son is 8.  Both of them started out as fairly good eaters, but right around the time the independence and the Terrible Twos kicked in, so did the picky eating.  I had hoped it was a phase, but it wasn’t.  So I’ve been dealing with this for a number of years at this point, going through cycles of “working on it,” ignoring it or being too busy with other things to think about it much, periods of complete frustration, and more recently, possible food-related health issues for my son (constipation, according to a military doc at the base in NC – whose diagnosis I’m still not fully confidant in).  Over the years I’ve done a lot of reading and research, talked to other parents, and tried a whole lot of different techniques and recipes and ideas and even developed a few of my own.  I will get to most of those in future posts, but my biggest and best tip for parents of picky eaters everywhere is this:

Stay positive and don’t take it personally.

What?  You think I have some sort of magic trick that will turn your child into one that eats all his broccoli overnight? 😉  Naw, that’s not how life works.  But the one thing I do know to be true in life is that our attitude and our expectations are the biggest influence on our happiness and success in every aspect of our lives.  The second you let your child’s appetite (or lack thereof) upset you, you lose.  Dinner can go from a pleasant family event to a battle of wills in no time at all.  Don’t let that happen.  That perfect meal that you spent an hour preparing and were SO convinced your child would love only to find you couldn’t even talk him into taking a single bite? And this was after he pinkie promised that he absolutely WOULD try three bites, even if it didn’t look like he thought it would look?  Or the time you make his absolute favorite thing for lunch (you know the one he requested 3 times in a row last week) only to be informed that he’s “sick of it.”  Or maybe you just spent $6 at a restaurant for a kids’ meal that didn’t get touched at all (because the cheese in the grilled cheese was white instead of yellow?!) and you find yourself swearing you are never going to eat out again.  Believe me, getting upset about it is just not worth it.  Instead of flying off the handle, yelling, making threats, or pulling your hair out remind yourself it’s not you and it’s not the food, your kid is just a little quirky (and stubborn, er opinionated) and that’s ok.

Smile.  Hug him.  And try again tomorrow.

Because you know you love that little bundle of attitude and stubbornness more than life itself and he needs a calm, happy mother (or father) much more than he needs a stomach full of brussels sprouts.

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Back to School Mom’s Brunch

I am not one of those moms that spends the whole summer wishing the kids were back in school but I have to admit that there are a lot perks for Stay at Home Moms when the kids are in school.  Like the fact that the only dishes in the sink or crumbs on the counter are the ones I put there.  😉  And the quiet – oh the quiet house!  The kids are ready for a change too, even if they wouldn’t admit it.

It feels like summer has barely begun, yet already Back to School preparations are on the radar.  I’m seeing signs go up in stores and ideas being pinned on Pinterest.  I even got out the calendar yesterday and counted up how much time we have before the kids are back in school – 5 weeks!  It’s going to be here before we know it.

True to form, I usually do my best to add a few special touches to the first day of school.  I make special muffins or pancakes for the kiddos for breakfast, make sure they have something fun in their lunchboxes, and pull out the last of my husband’s award winning chocolate chip cookie dough from the freezer so they have fresh from the oven cookies when they got off the bus.  However, what I personally look forward to the most is my annual Back to School Mom’s Brunch! (photos are from brunch last year)

Chalkboard and Maps Oh the Places You'll Go Back to School Brunch for Moms

This is a tradition I started back when my daughter first started Kindergarten.  I knew I would be a little sad to see her growing up and wanted a way to celebrate the milestone – and to distract myself.  It served its purpose perfectly and I have had a casual Mom’s Brunch every year since.  I don’t go into full out party mode – the point is to keep it casual and just enjoy some time with the ladies without (most of) the kids running around.  I set aside the first day of school for myself with no real worries about the To Do List so brunch can go on as long as we feel like it.  I think a couple of years a few of us were still sitting around visiting until it was time to meet the afternoon bus 😉

Back to School Moms Brunch Celebrate the kids first day back at school with a fun get together with other moms

I do Mom’s Brunch potluck style so prep work on my end is minimal though I do like to add just a little bit of fun to the food display.  A few weeks before school started I ran across this great Dr Seuss printable (here) and with our big moving date looming in the near future I knew that a Places You’ll Go theme was exactly what we needed last year.  In keeping with the chalkboard style I printed out a few more school-type signs (ran out of time though so only one made it onto the table – the fun flags and water bottle labels will have to get their turn another time.  You can find those printables here).  Then I added a few maps to round out the Going Places idea.  The maps themselves were road maps of the states – one for North Carolina (where we lived at the time), one for Utah (where we were moving to soon), and the others were the home states of some of my friends.  And yes, my friends did actually notice and comment on the fact that their states were included.  (See?  The details DO matter!)

Oh the Places You'll Go Back to School Moms Brunch
Party Idea for Moms Back to School Brunch on the first day of school

I know – I should have taken the covers off the dishes and the coffee cake wasn’t even out of the oven for this photo but hey – when you have to decide between taking beauty shots for the blog and actually participating in your own party… 😉

Happy Back to School Everyone!  I hope this year is a wonderful one for all!

My Pinterventures

The Answer Is Chocolate

Featured on Merry Monday and BFF Open House

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Before Screens List: How I Get My Kids to Balance Their Time

Before Screens List How I Get My Kids to Balance Their Time

Screen Time.  For this generation of kids and us, the parents, concerns about how much time children spend using “screens” like TV and tablets (and cell phones and Ipods and YouTube and XBoxes and…) ranks up there in the Top Ten Things Parents Have to Think About Every Day, right along with are they eating enough vegetables and are they going to get hurt doing _____.  Keeping on top of it all is exhausting, isn’t it?  How much TV/video game/computer time is too much?  How do I get the kids to adhere to whatever rules I set without constantly monitoring or nagging?

I had  noticed last summer that it was very easy for the kids to get sucked into the screens first thing in the morning and have a hard time redirecting themselves afterward.  I would be in the garage working and when I would take a break at 9 or 10AM I would go inside to find them both still in pjs  glued to the tablet and generally the little guy hadn’t even fed himself breakfast yet.  (I know – some of your kids sleep until then so it doesn’t sound like a big deal.  We are a house of early risers and generally my kids wake up on their own by 7:00)  Not good.

Chore Chart Before Screens List for Kids Daily Routines for the Summer

Last fall I ran across a brilliant idea (found here) and we’ve been using it fairly regularly ever since.  Instead of setting limits on screen time, this mom set up a list of things the kids need to do BEFORE they spend any time on the computer or TV and once those things are done they are free to spend as much time as they want with the screens.  The beauty of the plan is that you can customize your lists and change them as needed so that a good chunk of the day is spent doing the items on the list if you so desire.  By putting things on the list that are likely to get the child involved in other activities (outside play, something artsy or creative, etc) chances are they will get wrapped up in those activities and be less likely to spend as much time on the screens anyway.  Plus the list can serve as a reminder for all those things kids love to forget like brushing their teeth and feeding the dog.  I no longer have to nag them, I just have to ask what is left on their list.
Before Screens List Daily Routines for Kids Keep them Busy During Summer Vacation
With summer now in full swing here, along with new routines and responsibilities, we all sat down to give our Before Screens Lists a little update.  Kaitlyn’s list now looks like this (and Tyler’s list is very similar):

Breakfast:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, putting away food, wiping down counter/table where you ate – by 8:30AM
Get Dressed: includes deodorant, doing hair
Brush Teeth:  with timer, rinse sink afterward and make sure towels are hanging up nicely
Make Bed
Unload Dishwasher (Tues, Thurs, Sat)
Active:  60 Minutes
Reading:  30 Minutes
Creative/Productive (Play):  1 ½ hour
Time Outside – at least 30 min
Play with Bambi
Straighten up Bedroom
Clean Up Playroom
Practice Piano
Dinner:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, helping to clear table and put away food
Take out Garbage
Feed and water Bambi
Pack swim bag (as needed)
Before Bed: by 8:30 PM

-shower (start by 8:00)
-pjs, brush teeth, mouthwash, wash face, make sure bathroom is straightened up

Bedtime:  9:00 PM

Notice the times on some of the spaces?  I hate to nag and I also hate to have to watch the clock when I know the kids are perfectly capable of doing so themselves.  So I made sure to note what time I wanted them dressed in the morning or how soon to start showers at night so they could go to bed on time.
My kids are 11 and 8 so they need the specific details and reminders to brush their teeth, shower, etc.  My hope with the list is that the kids will start to form their own habits and routines so that I no longer have to be “on top of them” quite so much.  That as soon as they are finished eating they automatically put their dishes in the dish washer or that their morning doesn’t feel complete without getting dressed and brushing their teeth.  As a parent I am trying to teach them to be self-reliant and self-directed.  To learn how to prioritize their time and activities and recognize that spending a little time with the daily chores and personal maintenance is not only easy but useful.  To start to recognize that we all have certain responsibilities that need to be attended to and it’s easier to do so in a few minutes a day than to procrastinate and have to deal with the consequences later.  To learn that we all need to figure out how to balance our lives between “work,” play, creative time, learning time, and time spent zoning out because all of those activities have their place.

Before Screens List Daily Routines for Kids Chore Chart

Once we had the list arranged to everyone’s approval (didn’t take long because we already had a good base and I had saved it in the computer) I printed them out and put them in page protectors.  This allows the kids to mark off everything as they do them with dry erase markers (another incentive – my kids love dry erase markers!) then we can just wipe it all off and start again next week instead of having to print multiple copies of the list.  Then I mounted them inside a cabinet where they are easily accessible but out of sight.

Before Screens List Monitoring Children and Technology

As I have spent a little more time noticing how and when we use screens the past week one thing has become glaringly obvious to me – I am just as attached to those screens as the kids are!
What? No gasps of surprise?! LOL  Yeah, I’m not either.  I think a lot of us know that we as adults rely just as heavily on technology as our kids do.  Have a few minutes in the morning and what do I do?  Check my email.  Bored standing in line at the grocery store or waiting for our food in a restaurant?  Pull out the phone to see what’s happening on Facebook or Instagram.  Or I’m on the computer blogging, looking up ideas on Pinterest, editing photos, or checking new orders in the Etsy shop, or hey let’s see if it’s my turn on Words with Friends, or…
I’m thinking maybe I need a Before Screens list myself! 😉
I’m interested:  What would you put on your No Screens List?

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