Friday late afternoon involved a 3-4 hour car journey to London. Car snacks are an essential. What did I take for a pain free journey which included a late tea time? Well, I decided on hummus and pita, grapes, pears, fromage frais (yup, tubs of it with a spoon), dried mango & digestive biscuits. MESSY in the extreme, no bibs as a precaution only wipes to deal with the inevitable back seat destruction. Florence looked crusty by the end of the journey! There was a huge amount of crumbled biscuit, half sucked mango and squished fruit down the side of the car seats.
I’m quite relaxed about mess, I’d rather it be in their tummies than making them worry about the odd spill here and there. In the main I have two tidy eaters, it could be down to luck, having a fantastic lady Claire look after our children and enforce good eating habits or just down to having patience at mealtimes. I believe in picking your battles. If I was to pick them up on everything life would be pretty stressful for all of us. Whilst I am a stickler for table manners and will not let either of them leave the table unless they have asked correctly, I am not bothered about accidental spills here and there, I put that down to the ‘theatre’ of eating!
Getting a toddler to eat their meal is sometimes stressful enough. Florence is going through a stage of 'mixing', which yesterday consisted of a mix of yoghurt, water and grapes floating around in her cup. This was not 'accidental'. Whilst I stood watching her on her second chance, she looked up, gave me eye to eye contact whilst slowly mixing her spoon with that kind of 'Ha ha mummy, you lose' look. So, whilst Tilly sat there, good as gold, Florence and I had yet another round of battle of the wills! Of course, I made sure I won but it is hard. Sometimes it would just be easier to walk away and let her win on the odd occasion but with Florence I would be creating a monster! She definitely needs the boundaries reinforcing. Sometimes she is a little angel, sometimes not. Anyway, the result was no more food, a stint on her own and no more snacks until breakfast this morning. I might sound a bit hard but by 2 she understands the basics of right and wrong. I wasn't worried that she hadn't eaten her fruit or yoghurt. She had eaten a very healthy dinner of homemade risotto with lots of veg so she definitely had sufficient energy to see her through to this morning! She did of course have her evening milk (which incidentally she absolutely loves).
Regarding trips away, what I do find tricky is when we are at other peoples’ houses. Florence spotted the Quality Street upon arrival on Friday night. I battled inwardly but didn’t stop her having one as it seemed unfair since we had just got there and they were offered to her. Instead we took it on the chin, bedtime just took a little longer as a sugar rush meant a less tired toddler ;-), not ideal but part of life! There were the occasional treats and snacks on Saturday daytime whilst other people were around. I refuse to put my children on edge, particularly at Tillys age (5) I want her to make balanced choices and in the main she does, I don't want her feeling 'guilty' because she ate a treat, she doesn't have to ask me permission for everything she eats, particularly when it is offered by one of mummy and daddys' friends. I was there some of the time and could see what was going on but I don't want to appear to be an over bearing parent. In actual fact they didn't eat the lolly they were given, they took one lick of it and then put it in the bin (well Tilly did, Florence put it on the chair beside her!). By the way, Lollies are my least favourite invention! There are so many reasons for this including the fact that it is sugar on a stick which not only gives them a sugar high then low, it is just about as bad as it gets for their teeth.
Whilst I love going away and love seeing friends, feeding the children is just so much easier when you are on your home territory or with people who have similar aged children themselves. I am not a control freak but I do like to think I'm feeding my children the right food most of the time. Not only do I want them to be healthy but it definitely has a direct knock on to their behaviour and mood swings. In our household, sugar = tantrums about an hour later when the sugar crash kicks in!
I somehow felt better last night when I had packed them full of goodness at dinner time and made a batch of healthy meals for the week.