I hope you’re ready for a return to my usual motherly musings and rants, because that is exactly what you are going to get this morning.
There is one thing that I have learned during my short three years of mothering, well I guess there are probably other things too, but one in particular that I have tried to remember at all times. Basically, it’s the reality that we as parents can often set our kids up for failure or success. Let me explain.
The two main areas where this plays out are in our children’s sleeping and eating habits. As infants, we control 100% where, when and what they do in these ares. The eating thing is pretty straight forward until you enter that lovely stage of solid foods. Most babies though are pretty easy going and we can find at least one fruit or vegetable that they don’t spit back in our faces. Then, we move on to more table food, etc., and the waters can become a bit murky. In the sleep category, we bring this little baby home and most of us have no idea how to help promote healthy sleep habits. It is very easy to get into bad patterns, which we later end up regretting and having to break. Many parents get into the habit of having their kids skip naps, nap on the go or stay up late, all of which can seem pretty harmless at the time but come back to bite us all in the behind later.
All this to say, I learned early on that sleeping and eating are equally important and if I am allowing either one to go by the wayside, it is my children who ultimately suffer. Are we going to have a special activity in the evening? Well, then I need to make space for my children to rest so they won’t be cranky. Is dinner a long way off? Then, obviously, I need to provide my kids with a good snack that will keep them going. Tired and hungry kids…YIKES!! They are miserable and they make us miserable!
Yesterday I helped out with a group of kids ages 15 months to 2.9 years. It was a blast and they were so much fun. We had a range of personalities, of course, including the shy one, the clingy one, the chatty one, the eater, the super mellow I’ll do whatever one, and the bouncing off the walls does this kid ever sit/listen/behave one. The last category was a sweet little boy who I’ll call Larry. He was 2 1/2 and had lots of energy. We tried to direct this energy the best ways we could, but it was hard considering we can’t really discipline in this setting. He was lots of fun, don’t get me wrong, just exhausting. For lunch, the parents had packed lunches for the kids. We started pulling them out and then got to Larry’s. Wanna know what was inside? A big box of juice, Frosted Flakes, those fake cheese crackers that come in a six pack, and Trix brand yogurt. That was a big “a-ha” moment.
I was thinking that this boy’s mom is probably lamenting on how high energy and wild her son is, because let’s face it, he is! But, come on lady, is it really any surprise? If I had a sugar packed lunch like that, I would be bouncing off the walls too! I am not perfect when it comes to feeding my kids. They eat pizza, they’ve had chicken nuggets from McDonalds. But the reality is that we are what we eat and so are our kids. So if our kid is hyper and we’re saying, “He’s just a boy,” while we hand him a donut, is that really accurate? Or fair for our child?
Just some food for thought. I know it’s hard to get our kids to eat good things and sometimes even harder to make them nap, but think of the alternative? Do you really want to send your kid into a group setting only for her to be labeled the “difficult” child because she had fruit loops for breakfast? I know I don’t.
So there you go. And to Larry’s sweet mom, I still wonder, “Well, what DID you expect, hon?”