I absolutely love 'drop-off' and 'pick-ups' with my daughter.
Firstly, I get a chance to walk her as she bounces happily to meet her friends then hear all about her day fresh from the gate, but, I also (selfishly) love it as it gives me a chance to get a slither of social interaction that isn't my phone, zoom or other faux-face-timing.
The absolute greatest thing about these fleeting 5/10min windows is that, because of the very nature of how we as parents can communicate at these moments- kids chatting around you, keeping all eyes on the roads, bags falling off our shoulders, hair scraped back and face full of frenzy- we're just vulnerable, and we tend to use these 5/10mins to decompress with each other. It's unfiltered, pure parent venting. It's in these moments that I feel my best because I feel like I'm not alone and we're all making it through together. That's what this blog and these articles are all about. Releasing, advising, and tapping into a portal that is bigger than just us.
So, first write-up. Well, I had to go with a theme that has long been the complainant of many-a-parent. Long before I even launched Short Eats, it seemed to be that so many of us were battling with Fussy Eaters. You could be cooking for a while in the kitchen, only to be met with the 'what is this?' face or conversely have a pot of yoghurt whipped across the room. Mealtimes can be stressful. For us, our Movement is all about 'Prevention' rather than 'Cure'- i.e we want to start a new way of feeding babies based on the old school theology of Eating Together. This method takes time to see fruition but is beyond worth it. No separation for cooking. No-fuss at mealtime and ultimate freedom of food choices as they grow up. But what about the here and now?
I had an ephinany one day as I chatted to a parent during a school pick up. He said 'My baby eats everything, but it's my older one (6years old) who is the proper fuss-pot'. Whilst we research heavily for weaning and baby-eating, we're forgetting the 5-7year olds. Many of their long-lasting food behaviours and habits are starting to solidify by this point, so we need to be just as vigilant for them.
The way we deal with eating is multi-dimensional. I mean, all kids are different, so there are no hard and fast rules, but when it comes to certain age brackets, there are certainly more applicable approaches.
Here are some guidelines that we suggest. The number one thing we try to maintain is the MAKING FOOD AN EXPERIENCE. We cannot emphasise how this is, and what a positive effect it can have for your little ones, and as a result, you! Remembering these points will also go a long way to keeping your sanity. Let us know how you get on!
+ Any signs of tiredness or irritation will make meal moments very stressful, so aim for times when your little one’s happy and calm.
+ This seems like a little point, but a big one- make sure they are in a dry nappy- imagine if you were sitting down to eat on a wet seat. No thank you!
+ Don't rush- little ones can absolutely pick up on your moods, so if you're stressed and in a hurry, they might not want to comply.
+ Babies have a natural knack for absorbing new flavours, so try and experiment with new ingredients as much as you can!
+ Try to involve them in the eating/dining experience as much as possible. Setting the table- let them pick out the cutlery, dish their own food out and jazzy napkins always go a long way to making a simple meal, a dining experience.
+ If they have younger siblings, encourage the older ones to be a 'food model'. Good behaviour and trying everything! Lots of praise and support.
+ Whilst babies love everything, older kids might need a bit more help. If you're cooking a completely new ingredient, then cook it in a familiar way- yams styled as chips- or if you're using a classic ingredient then add something to make it a bit different or try cooking it in a completely new way- mashed potato but sprinkled with onions and coriander. But don't do both! Small easy teasers are the way forward.