Friday, September 29, 2006

Papernapkin asks

So I want to know, Internet! How often do you let your kids eat candy, dessert or sugared cereal? Do you take them to McDonalds, and let them eat chips? How often do you let them drink soda? Do you let them snack in between meals? How much TV do you let them watch? Do you encourage them to exercise a certain period each day? Do you make sure they're involved in sports? How much time do let them spend on the computer or in front of the TV? My inquiring mind wants to know

I was talking about this with a friend yesterday. Do we enjoy relaxed mealtimes and meals out because our children eat well and enjoy the culinary/social event, or vice versa?

I first took my daughter to a little local restaurant when she was just a couple of days old, and when i was on maternity leave, i began working her nap schedule so that she slept mid morning and mid afternoon and would be alert at lunchtime so I could go into the city and meet my friends for lunch. This was obviously 80% for my benefit, to combat the isolation of being home alone with the baby, but she grew to love the short train journey and love the different finger foods that were offered to her. As she got older she graduated from a fat bread crust to gum to a paste all over the table, to carrot sticks to olives, and now, at 3, she will try anything. The rule when presented with a new food (or familiar food in unfamiliar form) is that she must try it. She must put a little peice in her mouth and chew. If she doesn't like it, that's fine. She can try it again next time. This is fantastic because she is up for trying, and she mostly enjoys, all kinds of things, including freakish-looking seafood that many kids won't touch.

We have relatively strict table rules. If she leaves the table before the end of a meal (unless for bathroom, obviously) she may not return. But, since she was around 12 months, we have allowed her to serve herself from the dishes on the table, to have a real water glass like everyone else, real plates and silverware.

She's also been involved in meal preparation since she could sit upright, even if only taking out, and mostly eating, the peas from opened pods, or putting the pasta from the packet into a pan, dropping raisins into muffin mix and having a go at stirring - that sort of thing. I can't remember how long ago it was she got the hang of cracking eggs without getting any shell in the bowl.

I think its imprtant to understand the construction and well as the origination of foods. Our garden isn't really big enough for more than a couple of tomato plants, but luckily her grandparent are fairly self sufficient in the fruit anf veg department, so she gets to see stuff growing.

We've been pretty strict about sweets, but, then, she's our one and only child, and friends with more laugh and say they were all the same when they only had one. She's had ice cream maybe ten times in her life. I don't think she's ever had store bought cake. I never make her clean her plate, and I let her snack as much as she likes, but only on fruit. If she doesn't want to eat what has been prepared, I don't make anything else for her.

Luckily she doesn't ask for sweets. And she doesn't like fizzy drinks, so I haven't had to consider where the boundaries would be on that one. She was given some haribo jelly sweets recently at a party and came over to ask me what it was for. I did get a few horrified looks from other mums, especially since earlier at the party, my daughter had shunned the white bread sandwiches (which she complains stick in the roof of her mouth) and treat foods over at the kids table, and came to fill her plate from the brushetta, humous etc over in the adults corner.

We try to eat a healthy dinner as a family in the evenings, not possible every night because I'm away two evenings a week with work and my partner often likewise. So we usually eat in pairs. She gets her turn to chose what we have for dinner, same as we do (she loevs thumbing through recipe book pictures), and if the necesseary ingredients aren't in the house, we put our shoes on and pop to the little shop round the corner - which is great because, not only does she enjoy scooting round the to find whatever it is we need, but she'll tell everyone she meets that she's going to buy X to make Y with, and gets into some great conversations. (it's also often a great opportunity to talk about money/numbers etc) (but only if I've got the energy!)

Most weekends we enjoy long sociable meals either at our house or with friends. She likes to eat her breakfast on the sofa in front of the tv, which I don't mind. And sometimes when I get home late (around 10/11pm) from work and my coming home disturbs her into waking, she and I will sit in bed, watch Tv and eat french fries with a pile of mayo on them. Just to balance out all that green veg!


At 3:55 pm, September 29, 2006, Blogger Jonathon said...

Whoa, you're way, way more organized then I could ever be. I could never think far enough ahead to plan my/Little-E's naptimes to accomodate my schedule.

Every time I try to plan something while she's sleeping, she will undoubtedly refuse to sleep that afternoon. Ha!

At 4:04 pm, September 29, 2006, Blogger dodo said...

organised? nope. Self preserving. Someone left me alone in a house with a stranger who didn't speak english.

(also - "We are normal, cha cha chaaa" ??? Yay. I want my Tshirt!)

At 4:13 pm, September 29, 2006, Anonymous Sheryl said...

Very interesting, thanks for your take on this :o)

At 7:51 pm, September 29, 2006, Blogger Jessica said...

Came here from Paper Napkin. We have the same rule about trying new foods. The kids are great about it now. I'm not so good at letting them help cook - I'm always in such a rush, it's just easier to do it myself. Not a great excuse - especially when my 6 year old LOVES to cook.

At 1:13 am, October 03, 2006, Blogger spickydoo said...

I'm with you sister. I'm proud to say that my 5 and 2 year old have never had a drop of soda in their lives. My 2 year old eats hummus, sushi, anything in a broth, spicy, weird, what have you....they enjoy food. They can identify something that is junk food...the 5 year old reads labels, and layers a very mean veggie lasagne...I'm not being a food snob, but these are our kids and I cannot understand people who bat their eyes and volunteer that their 5 year old will only eat "Dino Bite chicken nuggets and doritos". Wha? Heh? We Americans are a big ol' mess....

At 7:49 am, October 05, 2006, Blogger lildb said...

I think that's wonderful. I think you're wonderful.

I do almost all of what you've done with your girl, minus the giving him a glass to drink out of. we're still working on that one. he's mr. adventure pants and usually the cup becomes a place to float small food boats, as well as a place to insert small hands, etc. anyway. we'll get there.

but I love that eats the way she does, and that is my goal with my kid. he's had cake twice, and a few bites of cookie. he's never had soda, and juice only a few times when he was sick.

anyway. I'm with you. I want my kid to have good food habits. no fatties in my house, please thank you! (kidding. not really but a little.)


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