Apr 10, 2015
There are days when I feel like the lone server in a fast-food joint and like "mother" is just another name for "chef."
It's amazing how frequently little kids can be hungry (or "ravenous," as my boys usually say). I get it that their stomachs are small and that they're growing boys. But I'm also pretty sure they get bored after eating three bites and run off to play, only to realize a mere ten minutes later that they're still hungry. When you stagger that between four boys, it can feel pretty constant.
One of the things that has continued to stick with me from the book Bringing Up Bebe is that French parents have somehow figured out a way to confine their children's eating to three real meals + one afternoon snack each day. Since then, I've diligently tried to implement a similar schedule into our daily routine (except I add in a morning snack as well), but somehow my kids find ways to work around it. And I give in because they're much more whiny when they're hungry.
But a few weeks ago, I had had it. I felt like I could never keep the kitchen clean or do anything else because I was always meeting food orders. My life was being taken over by pleas of "I'm ravenous!" all. day. long.
Something had to change. It was time to get serious.
On closer examination, I realized that I was part of the problem. When they asked me for a snack, especially if it was Aaron or Max, I'd impatiently say, "Again?! Just go grab something out of the pantry!" So basically, I was encouraging them to eat little bird-sized portions every fifteen minutes because they could always go back for more if they felt the least twinge of hunger.
So the first thing I did was to delegate two times of day for snacks: 9:30 in the morning and 4:00 in the afternoon. (The afternoon is tricky because I'd like to do it earlier, but Aaron doesn't get home from school until 4:00, so if I don't wait until then, I have to serve up two afternoon snacks--and Maxwell and Bradley almost always want to join in on round two.)
Next, I brainstormed a long list of potential snacks. Max and Bradley were happy to help me with this, especially when I told them there were no wrong answers and let them include cookies and cinnamon rolls on the list. I was actually surprised by the length of the list. In the moment of hungry demands, it always feels so difficult to think up a snack, but I realized there are actually dozens of easy choices.
And finally, I planned out a week's worth of snacks, writing down what we were going to have on each morning and afternoon. Choices are great, but sometimes it lessens the potential for tantrums when you can just say, "It's time for a snack, and today we're having apples and peanut butter. It's written on the calendar. In ink."
As part of this goal, I also decided that I wanted to make a big batch of something (banana bread, applesauce muffins, etc.) on Mondays and freeze half of it so that after a few weeks, I could have another option for a quick, healthy(ish) snack.
All this planning happened several weeks ago, and I regret to say that I only made a snack plan for the first week. Yeah . . . my follow-through could use some improvement.
But it was such a good idea, and I hate to see it go so soon, so today I'm using my blog for selfish purposes: I'm telling all of you about it in order to make myself accountable.
So here's the plan: Every Saturday or Sunday, I'll write out the snacks for the coming week on our calendar. I'll also plan what I'm going to make and freeze on Monday. After four weeks, I'll share all the details here on the blog: what we ate, what I made, and what things worked and didn't work.
In the meantime, I'd love to hear about how you make snack time a success. What are your favorite snacks? What do you take when you go to the park? How do you help your kids keep from eating at all hours of the day?