My kids are just a couple months away from turning 3, but I’m already getting anxiety about sending them off to school. Yes, there are the obvious reasons:
Separation anxiety. Mainly for me. I know the kids will be fine.
What will I do with *gasp* free time?!?
Finally understanding the most overused statement, “they grow up so fast”.
The main reason for my anxiety is that I will be losing some control I’ve had over their nutrition since they were born. That probably isn’t a normal fear that most parents have.
For me, though, it’s a biggie.
I’ve heard too many stories and have seen so many Facebook posts and Pinterest ideas about the many, many ways to get junk food in a kid’s hands. Every birthday, sporting event, holiday, game, and reward system seem to be focused on food.
Kids respond to non-food rewards, too.
My kids get so excited about the simple stamp they get on their hand after every gymnastics class. Can I tell you how relieved I was to be part of a program that doesn’t reward with food? The first time their instructor gave them a stamp on their hands, I wanted to run onto the blue mat and give her a big bear hug. I decided against it, though.
My kids are currently enrolled in a 1-day-a-week class with our local park district. Upon enrolling them, I was prompted to fill out a form for each of them to list allergies, special instructions, etc. I was tempted to list that they were all allergic to preservatives and chemicals, but figured they’d ask for a doctor’s note and I really didn’t want to make the embarrassing phone call to the doctor to ask for a fake diagnosis. Junk food is so harmful, though, that I think it should be diagnosed as something. That’s another post for another day.
Instead, I listed that I only wanted them to drink water at snack time. In all caps, I wrote, “NO JUICE”. Seems pretty clear.
For the first few weeks, the teachers complied with my request. However, after picking up the kids after class recently, the teacher confessed that they had asked for juice so she gave them a little. She assured me that she diluted the juice quite a bit. Just because something is diluted doesn’t mean it’s any less harmful. No one would ever think of giving a child diluted alcohol or coffee. And just because something is called “juice” doesn’t make it wholesome.
I’m not ashamed to say I’m already THAT MOM – the mom who brings her kids’ snack instead of letting them eat bright orange cheese puffs and atomic blue juice like the other kids. THAT MOM who emailed the park district director asking for a change in the snack system. My suggestions: omit snack altogether, only allow kids to bring their own snack, or provide healthier snacks. By the way, the director identified the program’s snack criteria as availability, sales, shelf life, and desirability. What about nutritious, healthy, or full of protein?
A small victory came in the form of a phone call from their teacher last week, though. A child’s mom had brought cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday. The teacher promptly called my husband to let him know about it. (She claims she called me and it went straight to voicemail – I think she’s a bit intimidated by THAT MOM). Since my husband and I don’t ever want our kids to feel left out or different because of our food choices, he simply told her to just give them half of a cupcake instead of a whole one.
The lesson here is: don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in when it comes to your kids. They’re YOUR kids. No one will protect them like you will.
If you have any success stories about how you approached a teacher, coach, or fellow parent about what they’re feeding your kid, please share.
If I ever run into you around town I’ll be sure to reward you with a high five.
Sorry, no candy rewards from THIS MOM.