If you have been following me, you know that I often bemoan the amounts of sugar in all our diets, especially kids. Added sugars are everywhere, and it seems like not even the smallest special event can go by without snacks, treats and juice for all.
At the same time, you know I preach moderation, so I have never wanted to be the mom always saying “no” to her kids at other people’s homes or special events. Allowing them to have a little here and there, and making sure things at home are good options, was always my chosen path.
But that was challenged this past weekend. This holiday weekend consisted of:
Friday: Went out for dinner, so the kids had restaurant food and juice;
Saturday: Had pizza lunch at church—restaurant food and juice, then had a picnic at our house—good food, but juice/chocolate milk and dessert;
Sunday: Fellowship lunch at church—crackers, juice, dessert;
Monday: Picnic—juice, dessert.
And this is all on top of the normal snacks they are allowed at home.
When I looked back at the weekend and tallied up how much sugar and restaurant food my kids ended up consuming, I admit I was a little dismayed, mostly at myself. While my normal mindset of “a little here and there” may work most of the time, I realize that there may be times I need to be a little stricter with them.
But, like I said, I don’t want to be the Negative Mom, especially when we are being hosted at other someone else’s home or at a group event like a church meal. So, how do we balance enforcing good decisions for our kids, and not being THAT parent (you know who I mean)?
Suggestion #1: Decide your own limits ahead of time. What are you going to allow, and not allow? Juice is a yes, soda is a no? Crackers and chips are okay, but no cookies? If you don’t have an idea beforehand, you are never going to be able to communicate it to your children.
Suggestion #2: Communicate it to your children, as much ahead of time as makes sense for their age, and preferably out of earshot of any hostesses that may be put out that you are telling your children not to partake of their desserts.
Suggestion #3: Make sure your home is setting the example. Preferably, don’t even have stuff in the house that you wouldn’t be wanting them to eat out, and when there are treats at home, make it understood what your expectation as to amount allowed is going to be. That will then spill over to when you are out and about. Also, my best suggestion to you would be to cut out juice at home, and make water your kids’ primary drink (maybe a very small glass of OJ in the morning). Yes, even 100% fruit juice should be an occasional food.
Suggestion #4: DO NOT teach your kids that certain things are bad, and give them the impression that if they eat them then they too are bad. Kids are very black-and-white thinkers, and are likely to equate their actions with the morality of their food. Encourage better behaviors, and explain that some things need to be “sometimes foods” because they do not help our bodies.
Suggestion #5: Know your kids’ limits. My oldest and youngest are not overly susceptible to sugar highs, but my middle child can get a bit crazy (and loves sugary stuff), so I know I need to enforce limits with her, and keep an eye on her to make sure she is following them.
Last night we had an end-of-year event at school. Going in to the snack hour afterward, I gave them a 1-juice, 1-cookie limit. Not outrageously stingy, but keeping the sugar at a lower level. They balked, then they listened, and then they went to bed without a problem. I call it a win!
Remember, the limits and the balance are going to be your own, but make sure you remember who is the boss, and help your kiddos take care of their little, growing bodies!