Interview With A Parent of A Child With Autism- Meet Kaitlin and Parker

rd autism

As we close out Autism Awareness month I want to share with you one more story. Meet Parker. His mom Kaitlin lives in my area and we are part of the same mom’s group on Facebook. I am grateful she is allowing me to share their story. It may sound familiar to you, or you may know someone who is currently going through a similar journey to find a diagnosis. Feel free to share this story with them: a real mom with a real struggle just like theirs.

Autism Awareness

How old was Parker when he was diagnosed?

Parker was 18 months old when he was diagnosed on the spectrum of Autism. I knew in my heart prior to the diagnosis. I think with knowing something was going on prior it was easier for me to accept. Two developmental pediatricians and a neurologist confirmed the diagnosis and still follow him.

 

What has life been like after diagnosis?

Everything I read about was so different than actually experiencing it. We began our journey receiving services through Early Intervention (OT, PT, Speech, Special Ed) and working with a licensed social work therapist (LCSW). All our services were in home so it was like a revolving door sometimes. It would be three services a day. We would make strides with speech and have some new words for a little while and then they would just disappear, like he forgets he learned them. One day they were here and the next they just disappeared. He had a lot of sensory needs. He would love being rocked, squeezed tight and disliked certain textures and loud noises scared him. Every day I learned some new.

IMG_20160319_085645

As Parker got older he became very aggressive towards others. He was hitting, biting, pulling hair and he would even bite himself when things would get overwhelming for him. It was hard to watch and accept. His activity level was extremely active and very dangerous. Parker has no fear whatsoever so, safety became a huge concern. He is also a runner/bolter. We recently became enrolled with Project Lifesaver with our local sheriff’s department. Parker wears a radio transmitter device that can aid in the location of finding him if he ever takes off.

 

How important is it to have support?

I am a single parent and having support is HUGE! I am thankful for my family who helps when anything is needed. My parents are our greatest support system and I would be lost without them!

 

What advice could you give to outsiders not familiar with autism?

Never judge a book by its cover. Prior to kids I told myself I would never use a backpack leash. But with his safety concerns I have too.

Kaitlin also recommends the following articles to help others understand more about what it’s like to be a parent with Autism.

The Mighty: 12 Things Not To Say to Parents of Kids With Autism

Today Parent: 11 Things Never to Say to Parents of A Child With Autism (and 11 Things You Should)

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy. 

Guest Post – A Defeated Mom’s Manifesto

Guest Post- Defeated Mom Manifesto

 

Amber by lineAmber Christensen is a mom to four boys, a blogger and author of  Memoirs of Mayhem: The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious. She is learning to find the humor in her parenting which she shares on her blog Watch This Mom. You can also find her on InstagramFacebook and Twitter!

The Problem

You know what MY problem is? (Well, one of them.) I think everything is my fault.

The kids don’t have clean clothes for school? My fault.

The kids are whining? My fault.

The kids turned the house into a disaster zone in the five minutes I left them quietly watching a movie to make a phone call? My fault.

It’s easy to feel defeated when I blame everything that happens on myself. I’ve taught my kids to do laundry. Even the two-year-old knows how to throw clothes into the washer. If they have to wear dirty clothes to school, the least I can do is let them share the blame.

You know what OUR problem is, fellow parents?

We like to pretend we have no faults. That’s why we couldn’t possibly let one of our children go to school in a shirt they wiped their face on. Other people would know we didn’t write, “Wash your disgusting shirt,” on our Pinterest-inspired, save-the-world job chart. They’d know we’re terrible parents for not teaching our kids responsibility and letting them out in public with Cheeto powder on their clothes. (You feed your kids Cheetos? What is wrong with you?!)

My Three-Part Solution

1. Make Connections by Admitting the Realities of Life

People make connections when one of them is brave enough to tell the truth and the other says, “Me too.” I’m not talking about becoming a whiner. But if someone asks how you are, it’s okay to say, “I seriously need to get out of my house. Without my kids. Like, yesterday.”

When they respond with, “Me too!” BAM! Girls Night Out!

You have a baby with eczema who scratches the heck out of his cheeks and don’t want to put steroid cream on his face so you’ve spent a lot of money looking for something that else that works? ME TOO! At least, I did. Then a mom at the doctor’s office gave me some suggestions and we got it figured out. Let’s help each other out!

2. Find Humor

I’ve learned to find humor in parenting. I even wrote a book about it. Because reality is quite funny. Watching a two-year-old get stuck trying to take his shirt off then turn in circles until he’s both stuck and dizzy is hilarious. When I laugh instead of cry (or yell), we’re all happier people.

3. Learn From Faithful Women Who Actually Had Hard Lives

The women in the scriptures have much to teach us. First and foremost, that life is hard no matter who you are. Reading about Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God under the least ideal of circumstances and had to hide him in Egypt to keep alive, really puts my life into perspective.

Hard? Hardly.

These are faithful, courageous, stalwart women who relied on faith and pushed forward despite their trials. I want to be like them.

Are You With Me?

Are you ready to stop blaming yourself for everything, admit reality, and find humor in everyday life?

Me too!

Want to read more great articles like this one? Subscribe to this blog via email (over there in the sidebar) and never miss another great post again! Follow The Whatever Mom on Twitter, Facebook and BlogLovin. If you don’t? Whatever.

Mother’s Day – A Handmade Tradition

I remember one sunny, warm day when I was a kid rushing through the bank with my mom in a hurried pace to finish up her errands. As she was standing at the counter the bank teller quietly admired her jewelry. “That’s a really nice necklace you have there,” she said with a grin. My mom looked down quickly forgetting what she was wearing. “Oh this? Ha, ha. My daughter made this for me for Mother’s Day.” My mother forgot to take off the hand painted pendant either my sister or I made for her (I can’t remember which one of us). But, it didn’t phase her and she went back to writing on her piece of paper. “You’re a great mom to wear that out,” the bank teller offered. “Thanks. I don’t mind wearing it,” my mother returned.

Now it is my turn to enjoy handmade cards and gifts from my girls. Whether they get a little help from their teacher, or their daddy it doesn’t matter. I love every single gift they make. (I am truly a sucker for a tiny hand print!) My heart melts when I see them practically bursting with excitement in anticipation of my joy filled response to their gifts. I could care less about getting a spa day (although don’t take that completely off the table), or a dinner out at a restaurant. These gifts made by their tiny hands are the best gifts of all because they are made with love and given with pure generosity. Plus, there are only a limited number of hand made unique gifts I’ll get for Mother’s Day. One day when they are too busy to shop, they’ll just send a note with some flowers attached.

Luckily for my mom, she now gets more practical gifts; things she can use and enjoy. But, I still send her tiny hand prints and hand made cards with a little help from her grandchildren. The gift she still has hanging on her fridge is the one where I painted the girls’ feet and pressed onto paper. I wrote this poem over top:

Walking with Grandma

Click here for FREE printable.

The poem I still enjoy was included on a craft sent home from my girls’ first nursery school. My girls were so little then, so of course I cried when I read it. I admit it still gets me a little teary now.

Walk with me mama.jpg

Click here for FREE printable.

 

I could not find a source, or author for either of these poems, but they are scattered all over the Internet on various blogs and Pinterest pages. You can easily copy these and print to include with your own gifts this year.

I know there are thousands of blogs right now offering a list of gifts that moms REALLY want for Mother’s Day. I can assure you the only gift any mother wants on Mother’s Day (or any day of the year) is to hear Thank You. And, maybe someone else to do the dishes for her.

What is your most cherished Mother’s Day gift given, or received?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy. 

 

Friday Favorites- Earth Day Roundup

Happy Earth Day!

Yes, today is the day we celebrate the earth and all the fabulous wonder it brings. Hug a tree, recycle a container or go out and plant something. Here are my Top 3 favorite earth friendly (and human friendly) products I have shared so far in my Friday Favorites series!

NORWEX

Norwex

My absolute top favorite is Norwex. We use the Envirocloth every day and need only water to clean with! This has cut down my household dependence on paper towels, cleaning chemicals that wash into our water supply and I let my kids help out more often too! That saves my energy resources. 😉 I started using the crazy mesh dish cloth I thought would never work and now I am hooked! It cleans better than a sponge and food doesn’t get stuck inside. I no longer have to buy pesticide soaked sponges! That saves me money, our water supply and adds way less waste into our landfill. You can find my original post about Norwex products here.

 

RUME

MyRuMe

I still love my RuMe reusable bag! I carry this tote inside my mom purse where ever I go. It has saved me from using countless plastic bags when shopping for only a handful of items. I can skip the plastic bag at the library too when out with the kids. And I can even use it to carry home a wet pair of pants (don’t ask). It is a great size and rolls up small so I can carry in my purse. It is washable and very sturdy! You can read my original post about my favorite RuMe products here.

 

POOFY ORGANICS

Poofy Organics

Last but not least, Poofy Organics has become our bath time favorite! My girls are still using and loving the Young Wild and Free shampoo and conditioner. I am loving the organic ingredients (entire product is not organic certified) and that it is cruelty free. The products clean really well and smell wonderful! We also use the lice prevention spray in the morning before leaving for school. This also smells really good without being over powering! All products that are good to our earth from start to finish! You can read my original post about Poofy Organics here.

There ya have it! A round up of my Top 3 favorite eco-friendly products I can count on! For me being kind to our earth is necessary to leave behind a healthy world for my children and my children’s children. What earth friendly products do you love the most?

All links to giveaways are now closed. Winners have been chosen and prizes distributed. No financial compensation given for reviews all opinions belong solely to The Whatever Mom. No affiliate links contained within individual posts. 

 

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy. 

Don’t Wish Away The Years

Don't Wish Away The Years

I remember a friend telling me at my baby shower, “don’t wish away the years because you will wish away all the good stuff too.” I remember her words so clearly, it feels like just yesterday. Here it is five years later and I see how hard that advice is to follow. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished for my babies to “just go to sleep!” or wished that potty training, or this picky eating phase would “just be over already!” In those moments it was too hard to see what I was wishing away.

My babies waking up in the night was the only time I had to snuggle them one at a time while their twin was asleep in another room. Now, I miss those precious early morning moments of feeling a tiny, fuzzy head snuggled under my chin. I miss the sound the rocking chair made in the late night hours quietly shushing us back to sleep. I miss holding those tiny bundles against my chest with their arms around my neck, the scent of their hair and the tiny wisp of their breath on my neck. Here’s the part I want to wish away: my kids are growing up and I’m feeling so unprepared. Where is the restart button? How can I go back to day one knowing all that I know now? I’d be more patient. I’d be less busy. I’d throw away perfection much sooner.

Kindergarten registration has come and gone. My kids are officially on the track to elementary education. Our first visit to the school is happening tomorrow. The girls will get to tour their classrooms with out me. They get to meet some of the kids they will spend their days with for the next 13 years. I will be in another area of the school talking with other parents about how to prepare our children for their first day of school without us. And I’m not ready to let them go.

You would think staying home with them for the last five years would feel like enough, but it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. That five years went by quicker than I could imagine. When I sit down in the rocking chair in a quiet moment I can almost feel my pregnant self sitting in that chair. I waited patiently through five months of “bed rest” for my little babes to arrive. It felt like that five months was never going to end. But it did and at the end there were two incredible little gifts that belonged to me.

I thought the first year of taking care of twin infants through the night was never going to end. They would never be out of their cribs and into their own rooms without each other. I would let them decide when they were ready I thought. But then I decided on my own when they were old enough to get out of toddler beds and get into mischief together.

I thought potty training my set of very strong willed twins was going to break me. I couldn’t imagine a day where I wasn’t wiping up potty accidents all day long. Those were really hard long years (yes, years). But now that phase is over too.

I have been so fortunate to stay home with them. I have had five years of snuggles and kisses, watching them grow and learn. I have not had to share all their amazing milestones with anyone else. It was all me. And them. And I loved it.

I have been able to watch over them, protect them and keep them safe. Now, we are moving away from our own little world to enter the big wide world. I am excited to watch them learn new things and grow. But it feels like a lot is ending for us. It’s an end to lazy morning snuggles because it’s Tuesday. It’s an end to sunny morning park dates. It’s an end to trips to the ice cream shop in the middle of the day. It’s an end to slow easy mornings where the day is ours entirely.

Now, we move on to homework struggles and rushing to the bus stop, bullies and besties. My beautiful babes are on the threshold of shedding their innocent perspectives and learning to connect with the world around them.. They will learn so much more than what I can give them by myself. Some good. Some bad.

I know the next five years will be very different than the last five years. But, I can’t help wishing I didn’t have to wish for more time.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again!

 

This article also appeared on Mamapedia.com

 

 

 

Make Your Own Play Dough For Sick Days

How To Make Playdough

We were struck down hard by the flu bug for nearly two weeks. My poor kiddos have been lethargic with only spurts of energy. They waiver between lying on the couch taking small sips of water and short bursts of wanting something to do. They keep asking to take out the play dough. “Um, you’re a hacking pile of slime right now mayyyyybe we should pass on the play dough?” Nope. Must have play dough.

Kids are gross. I love ’em but ew. They sneeze into their hands and wipe them on the table. They use one small corner of a tissue to rearrange the snot on their face and go back to eating dry cereal with their fingers. They PROMISE me they’ve washed their hands, but I’m not entirely confident in their promises. Squishing all those germs into the play dough and then sealing it inside an air tight container feels more like a DIY petri dish experiment than play time fun. Ick!

So, I pulled out our favorite recipe for homemade play dough and started cooking. Most moms cook up a big batch of chicken soup for their sick kids (which by now you know my picky eaters won’t eat that anyway). But, this mom cooks up a batch of homemade play dough? Whatever. A mom has got to do what a mom has got to do to make it through the thousandth sick day! Am I right?

Here is what you need:

2 Cups flour

½ Cup salt

1 packet of Kool Aid

1 Cup boiling water (I ran my tap until the water was at its hottest)

3 Tablespoons oil (Sunflower, or Vegetable works best)

Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt and Kool Aid together first.  Next, add oil to the boiling water before pouring into the bowl. The fun part is watching the colors magically appear.

The dough will resemble crumbles at first. That’s when it’s time for all hands on deck! Everyone can take turns kneading the dough until it becomes a smooth ball.

play dough crumbles

After you’ve made all your play dough, store the dough in an air tight container (a plastic baggie works too). We made a few different colors.

play dough boxes2

This recipe is cheap and it makes enough play dough that I can portion out to have on hand for a few sick days. I toss it immediately after my kids sneeze into it.

You don’t have to reserve this recipe for your kids’ sick day. You can make it any time! 😉

How do you keep the kids entertained on sick days?

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again!

 

Friday Favorites – Special Books by Special Kids

rd autism

As I mentioned in my post on April 2nd, April is Autism Awareness Month. No one is more aware of autism than the individuals who live with this diagnosis, and their families who love them. They are the ones who live with the challenges and differences every day. But, there are some unsung heroes out there helping them find a comfortable place of acceptance: Special Education Teachers and Therapists.

Teachers and therapists working in the world of special education truly have the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve met. They have to give enthusiastically for 6-8 or more hours a day. What makes them truly special is they can breathe the power of belief into the hearts of our special kids who don’t always believe in themselves. They can bring relief to a parent filled with worries and doubts. What an amazing super power!

I am a huge fan of this guy: Christopher Ulmer. We have never met and probably won’t. But, I want to introduce you to the important work he is doing. He is working hard to open doors of acceptance for children with autism and different abilities. His passion and his energy in the videos he posts are contagious. I hope you catch it too and pass it on to friends, family and strangers. As he says in nearly every video, “we are all more alike than we are different” and no matter what our abilities are we all need one thing to thrive. Love.

Here is a PopSugar video of “Mr. Chris” (as his students call him).

Mr. Chris tried to publish a book series written by his students. It was rejected 50 times. Instead he now travels the country interviewing individuals and their families and posting those videos online. Through sharing these stories on social media he is hoping to create a platform to educate the world and invite others to learn more about neurodiversity.

Mr. Chris uses rough 1/3 of his teacher salary toward promoting this project. I encourage you all to go check out the Special Books by Special Kids website and Facebook page. If you are inspired by his work feel free to click on the donation tab on the website and contribute to his gofundme site. Mr. Chris is using donations to fund his expenses to travel to each family and to keep SBSK operating. And, if you know a publisher who would be willing to publish his book series don’t be afraid to reach out to him directly. 😉

Please share this blog post on your social media pages. We can make Mr. Chris’s work a little easier by helping create a better understanding of what it looks like to treat others with compassion despite their diagnosis.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again!

What Is a ‘Real’ Single Mom Anyway?

 You’re Not a Real Single Mom

Originally posted at Mommy My Way and again on Huffington Post.

circle nikkiby Nikki Stephens, blog owner and writer at Mommy My Way  is a 25 year old single working mom to baby boy Zaylen. She believes that just because her way is a little hard it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Find Nikki on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

I was recently “mansplained” how there are real single moms and then there are single moms who claim the title. Ya know the type of single mom I’m referring to? No, you don’t? That’s OK because I didn’t either. I am a single mom. I have never been married and my son’s father is not in the picture at all. I don’t receive child support and I do it all on my own. I bare all of the financial responsibility and am the sole provider for my family. I am a real single mom, at least that’s what I’m told.

What Is A “Real” Single Mom?

Apparently women who:
1. Are not currently in a relationship with the father of their child, but who have an involved and supportive baby daddy, are not allowed to call themselves single mothers.
2. Are not in a relationship with the father of their child and receive child support are not allowed to call themselves single mothers.
3. Have a positive relationship with the father of their child, regardless of his level of involvement, are not allowed to call themselves single mothers.
4. Chose to conceive without a father or significant other are not allowed to call themselves single mothers.

nikki guest pic

I guess I wasn’t aware that ‘single mother’ was synonymous with ‘struggling alone.’ I didn’t realize that being a single mom meant I had to be struggling at all.

This explains quite a bit though really. I was wondering why the first thing out of people’s mouths is, “I’m so sorry to hear that” after they find out I’m a solo parent. I was wondering why I received the sad, pity-filled looks as I spoke about my life. I now understand that this is all because I’m a real single mom and being a single mom equals pain.

nikki guest pic 2

Newsflash! I’m pretty freaking happy with my life. I didn’t think I needed to shout it from the roof tops, but I guess I should at least once for people to truly see I’m good with my circumstances.

But what’s most concerning is not that I’m looked at with pity, no the real concern is that all of these single mothers out here are being treated like trash for claiming a title that other people don’t think they have the right to hold.

nikkie guest pic 3

I’m sorry but when did being a single mother become some medal of honor that women are jumping at the opportunity to call themselves such? If a woman is single and also a mother, then I truly hate to break it to you, but she is a really real single mom and she doesn’t need your approval to say so.

I don’t care if she splits her parenting time right down the middle and shares all of the responsibility: financial, emotional or otherwise. If she is single and raising a child she can refer to herself as a single mom.

I don’t care if she gets $2,000 or more a month in child support and treats herself to a pedicure every other week. If she is single and raising a child, she is a single mom.

I am so incredibly tired of the stereotypes women are placed into relating to the type of mother they are. You are not HER so stop judging her.

And if you need anymore proof that being a real single mom comes in all forms and fashions… here are just a few real life, real single moms:

OTHER REAL SINGLE MOMS

ROSE is a single mom to a 16 month old. She has a great friendly relationship with her daughter’s father and he helps out financially whenever he can.

12809679_1731774543707393_4791019578178548548_n
Photo submitted by Rose Evans

 

STACY is a single mom. She is a widow of Correctional Officer Joel Ramos.  They have three beautiful children Joel Jr. 10, Natalie 8, and Alexis 2.

Photo submitted by Nicole Diele with permission by Stacy Ramos. Photo taken by Kayla Tapley of Merced, CA.
Photo submitted by Nicole Diele with permission by Stacy Ramos. Photo taken by Kayla Tapley of Merced, CA.

 

JENNIFER is a single mom. Her son’s father is on active duty in Korea and has never met his son nor does he wish to.

Photo submitted by Jennifer North
Photo submitted by Jennifer North

Are you convinced yet? We are all real single moms and no man (or woman) is going to tell me we aren’t. All moms rule whether they have a good man helping them raise their children or not.

 

 

 

 

Exciting News- The Whatever Mom Community Grows!

Introducing

 

I am excited to share with all of you wonderful readers some exciting news! The Whatever Mom Army continues to grow!

Starting TOMORROW you will see some new faces on my blog! You will see posts submitted by guest bloggers and contributors who are lending their voices to our incredible Whatever Mom community! Why is it important to have some new voices? Well, I know you could never get sick of hearing from me *wink* but my kids are growing and I am entering a new season of parenthood. In those really rough sleep deprived early months of life as a new mom, I never thought I’d get here. HERE I AM MAMAS!! One day you will be to!

My mission has always been to expose those struggles we all face as parents and ease the pressure to meet perfection. But, it wouldn’t be fair to my readers to only hear my struggles. There are new moms out there who need to know they are going to survive and they need to know there are other moms right there in the trenches with them. Mothering can be so hard. We put so much pressures on ourselves to make it all perfect.

Well, moms I am happy to share none of us are perfect. I want this site to be a place of comfort and understanding. Any parent in any stage of the game will find something they need. Whether it is connecting with someone else’s story, or a craft you need to keep the kids happy, or a recipe to hopefully get that picky eater to finally eat something (fingers crossed). Or, just simply a place to know you are not alone. We all struggle and that’s OK. *Breathe*

Thank you to everyone who reads each week. Truly, from the bottom of my heart I mean that! It is a dream come true to be able to write my thoughts down and send out to the masses. It amazes me each week that there are a couple thousand of you who look forward to what I have to say (my husband and two children do not count in that number, ha!). Someone once told me I couldn’t be a writer and I believed them. I also told myself I couldn’t be a good mom, and I believed that too. Thankfully, I was wrong on both accounts.

Guess what? You can find more really great moms to connect with right here in the very near future. Please check back often, or even better subscribe via email so you won’t miss a post again! You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Bloglovin’. Just check out the sidebar for all those links. I love getting the chance to connect!

Happy reading!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again!

Picky Eaters Party of Two – My Hidden Nutrition Mac and Cheese

Hello mamas! I have shared before how difficult it is to find foods for my super picky eaters. These girls of mine simply will NOT take even one bite if they don’t want to. So, I end up wasting a lot of food. I try not to make food a struggle at our house, but I think sometimes it just is. Other times I find myself doctoring up their most favorite food on the planet: Mac and Cheese. But, hell hath no fury like a child who does not get the right shaped pasta in her mac and cheese. It MUST be shells NOT elbows. Lesson learned.

Here is how I sneak in a little extra nutrition into their favorite boxed mac and cheese. (Yes, boxed because they won’t eat my super amazing from scratch recipe).

Picky mac and cheese

Ingredients:

Favorite Box of Mac and Cheese

Nutritional Yeast

Winter squash, pureed (can also use sweet potato, cauliflower to go unnoticed)

Avocado mayo (optional)

Why avocado mayo? Well, it’s adding in some extra healthy fats which little developing brains need.

Why nutritional yeast? The nutritional yeast is rich with B-vitamins which my kids may not get enough of because of their limited food choices. Helps sneak in a little extra fiber and minerals too.

Why veggie puree? The hidden veggies gives an extra boost of fiber and vitamins.

Here’s how I make it.

Boil macaroni according to package directions.

picky mac and cheese 2

While the pasta is draining, I put in the amount of butter specified on the package and get it melting.

picky mac and cheese 3

Once it is melted I add in the veggie puree and mayo. Once it is all mixed I add in the cheese packet and the nutritional yeast (which I have been able to convince my kids it is a “cheese booster”) and milk. Once all of that is mixed well I add the pasta back into the pot and stir.

picky mac and cheese 4

My kids will eat the entire box together. Some nights this is all they will eat despite me serving their favorite veggies and fish sticks, or chicken nuggets along side of it. Having all that extra stuff mixed inside the mac and cheese is like a little nutritional insurance policy. I don’t worry about what they aren’t eating because I know what little they are eating is still packed with good stuff.

picky mac and cheese 5

I have to admit, some of these ingredients do not seem appetizing on their own. I thought nutritional yeast just sounded so gross until I actually tried it for myself. Also, who puts mayo in their mac and cheese, right? But, none of these ingredients are even detectable when masked behind the cheese. It also helps to NEVER let your kids see what you add into the sauce! Afterall, the secret is in the sauce. 😉

If you have a picky eater making you jump through a lot of hoops to get them to eat, hang in there! Despite my kids desire to subsist on macaroni and cheese alone, they are thriving and hovering in that 80th percentile.

Got a sure fire, tried and true way to get your picky eater to eat their veggies? Please share in the comments below!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again!