Tag: picky eaters

Parenting in Survival Mode

My husband traveled every week for the entire month of September and it sucked. It felt like he was home for a day or two with just enough time to unpack before repacking and leaving again. That left me to manage my kids, the house, the chores, the lunch packing, my blog and gave me zero time to take care of myself. Let me tell you, working from home isn’t easy when you’ve got last nights dinner dishes calling you from across the house. And of course it doesn’t feel like I’m winning mom of the year when I forget to pack an extra snack for my daughter’s long bus ride home. Ooops!

Chaos coordinator reporting for duty! When I am left alone to hold down the fort, I go completely into survival mode. Every parent knows survival mode. It’s what gets us through those lengthy stretches of teething and middle of the night vomit. There is nothing glamorous about survival mode.

For the first three years (or four – it’s kind of a blur) after my twins were born, I lived in survival mode. I mostly remember my husband working 17-19 hours per day while I was home alone with two infants and not a single extra helping hand. I cried a lot because I was so exhausted and in constant management mode. I actually made an appointment with a neurologist because I was convinced the exhaustion and dizziness were signs something bigger was wrong. She simply looked at me and said, you’re perfectly fine. You just need more help. And that’s when I realized perfection cannot exist in survival mode. I was trying too hard to make every piece of the puzzle fit perfectly and it was only hurting me in the end. Those early years really taught me how to live life with the bare minimum and that even the hardest days will pass. 

Thankfully, my husband doesn’t travel often and today he only works around 9 hours a day, but there are times those survival skills come in handy! It’s what gets us through a rough week, kid sickness or when things go a little off kilter. It’s good to have those skills, but survival isn’t a place you want to live in for too long. Believe me, there isn’t much joy in it.

I know there are plenty of you out there doing this gig solo every day. Whether you are divorced, widowed or maybe your spouse travels routinely for work. No matter what the reason, carrying the parenting load all alone is incredibly exhausting. My hat goes off to you! I’m sure you are familiar with survival mode, but I hope you are finding the support you need!

It has been a chaotic month for sure. It is also amazing how quickly I can slide right into trading perfection for whatever works. If I slow down and focus on each moment as it comes and not think too far ahead (and extend myself a little grace), I find it easier to survive when the wheels fall off the track.

How are you surviving this week?

Tips if your spouse travels for work:

If you know your spouse is traveling, prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Start by writing a simple menu for the week so you aren’t caught off guard at dinner time.

Use paper plates to eliminate the big clean up.

Line up the help you need – a cleaning lady at the end of the week, or a baby sitter during the week so you can run errands or grocery shop kid free. Order your groceries online and pick up at the store to save time.

Being out numbered by picky eaters and time, I try to keep dinner super simple. I will sometimes call a DIY sandwich night and round everyone up for a picnic on the living room floor, or I might put out a picky platter like this and let everyone chose what they want.

Use your calendar and sticky notes to keep you on task. I try to look at my calendar each night and make a list for the next day of the most important things I need to accomplish (lunches, phone calls, emails, etc). I write my list on a sticky note and I leave the note on my kitchen counter to review again in the morning.

Lower your expectations. Do not expect to fit everything into one day, or make all the ends meet. Your perfect plan will be destroyed by kids with a stomach bug, or a sudden school event you forgot about. Just keep things basic and aim for survival until help returns.

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I Surrender the War on Meal Time

I was struggling with what to share today when the topic just naturally appeared to me in the form of a cheese quesadilla. I know I’ve shared a lot about the insanity of having two picky eaters. But none of my words can articulate the drama that comes along with our meal times. One has to experience the hour-long fits of rage from my children to get the full effect of the mealtime madness at my house.

This picky “phase” began just before age three (my kids are almost six). It isn’t just the food choices they complain about, they also complain about the size and the shape of their food. They let me know their disdain for the color plate touching their food, or which side of the table they are served on. I simply cannot win.

I have done everything you are not supposed to do, and I’ve done everything by the book. I have consulted our doctor, and more than one Registered Dietitian. I have spent many mornings adding organic fresh berries and fruits to a smoothie just for one sip to send my kid into hysterics. They help me cook meals and snacks in the kitchen all the time and they still won’t eat any of it. I have tried everything to end the pickiness. Given all my hard work it stings when people make comments about my kids food choices, or posts those #proudmom moments on Facebook because their kid ate a new vegetable. My kids ate all of their organic veggies once too.

So what about the quesadilla? Well, last night I was pretty proud of myself for making enchiladas. I had no idea how easy these are to make. Thinking ahead I knew my kids would not even consider a bite of an enchilada, so I gave into making cheese quesadillas. If you have never had a cheese quesadilla, it is simply shredded cheese sandwiched between two tortillas and heated up to create a melty, gooey cheesy sensation. You can add things like chicken or veggies, but not in my house. My children are purists when it comes to their cheese quesadillas.

F A I L

I call the kids to the table expecting them to recognize one of their favorite foods and begin eating without complaint. Instead: (actual conversation in the Whatever household):

Child: “I can’t eat that.”

Me: “What do you mean you can’t eat that? You asked me to make it for you.”

Child: “I don’t eat round foods.”

Me: “You don’t eat round foods?”

Child: “No.”

Me: “Since when?” (Knowing she has eaten plain cheese quesadillas most of her life).

Child: “Since right now.”

Me: “So, mommy just made you a cheese quesadilla that you asked for and now you won’t eat it it because it is round?”

Child: “Yes. I can only eat triangles.”

Me: {blink} {blink} {blink} Stare. “Are you asking me to cut this into triangles?”

Child: “Yes. But only if they are small triangles.”

I CAN’T WIN.

Now this is the point where other parents suggest I not give into the demands, she either eats or she doesn’t. But other parents do not live my struggle. I could refuse to cut the triangles and spend the next 30-60 minutes listening to my kid scream about how awful her life is, or I can just give her triangles and move on peacefully. I can’t count of the number of meals I miss because I spend so much time disciplining my kids through theirs. It is a complicated tango we dance at least three times a day, every day.

My daughter accepts the quesadilla in triangles. Then opens each triangle and peels out the cheese. I leave the table to wash the dishes already resenting the bedtime snack she is going to beg me for later. I feel like I have tragically failed this part of parenting. Then I realize I need to dig deep and listen to my own advice, “Do whatever it takes to make it through this, Rox. You have fought a good long fight. You have hung in there longer than most folks would. You still feed them the good stuff and allow just the right amount of treats. You have remained faithful in your belief in good food. So what’s going to work to make your meal times less stressful?”

LET THEM WIN.

After nearly 4 years of battling against two strong wills, arguing, threatening, bargaining, yelling and digging my heals in, I give up. I GIVE UP! I raise the white flag and concede the war. I am no longer going to spend extra time in the kitchen crafting meals with hidden veggies, just for them to be rejected over and over. I am no longer going to worry about buying up the organic chicken nuggets when my kids won’t even come to the table if those are on the plate. I am no longer going to recreate healthier versions of Alfredo sauce just for my kid to splatter across my kitchen cupboards.

My kids are healthy and they are strong. So I will let them eat fish sticks and chicken nuggets every single night. I will let them eat their cheesy topped cheese with a side of cheese. I will let them have a small bedtime snack even when they skip refuse dinner. Most of all, I won’t let it bother me anymore when people say things like, “I would never let my kid get away with that.” OR “I guess I’m lucky my kids just eat everything.” OR “I better train my kids now so they don’t act like that later.” From now on, I will accept that this is what our “whatever” looks like. And this is what works for me. #proudmom

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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Whatever. It’s Just Breakfast.

Breakfast Ideas

Before I was a mom I knew my kids were going to eat perfectly balanced, delicious, organic meals because that’s what I planned for them to enjoy. It was like I had psychic abilities and just knew they would love wearing adorable coordinating outfits and having their hair tied up neat with pretty little bows. And, of course, my children would know how important it is to follow directions perfectly and need only a few gentle reminders.

Then I had kids. Twins in fact. So, that’s two at once. I didn’t know that I would eventually eat my own words. My kids are picky eaters who typically wear crazy mismatched outfits with their hair tied up loosely in a sloppy bun. Most of their outfits are accessorized by large, rubber rain boots. I once had a parent look at my kids outfit and ask me during preschool drop off, “I thought wacky day was next week?” There is just NO “bending my kids will” in my parenting.

My one daughter is NAHAHAHAT a morning person. Waking her requires three stages:

  1. Duck and cover.
  2. Run like hell.
  3. Screw it you’re going to school like that.

It is rare we have a peaceful morning. There is usually a 20 minute meltdown about the breakfast choices; which is then followed by another 20 minute crying fit because I made her selected breakfast items according to her exact specifications, but “that’s NOT WHAT I WANTED!!” This has resulted in many mornings of me shoving a piece of sandwich meat, or string cheese in her hand and marching her out to the car. We have exactly a four minute commute to her school so she eats what she can eat during our short trip.

Just as I began feeling guilty about the food choices she gets in the morning, I realize she only rejects the hot meals I wake up early to make. So, I no longer feel like a bad mom because she just won’t accept the available choices. I have come to accept that doing whatever it takes to make it through my morning is giving my kid a strange breakfast in the car on the way to school. Fighting against that just makes for more tension and arguing and resistance from my already super strong willed child.

I used to think (and judge) parents giving into their child like this was bad parenting. But, now that I am a mom I think it’s good parenting- good parenting looks like picking your battles. Fine, eat cold cuts for breakfast, but you are not getting away with pushing your sister. Go ahead and take your socks off before getting out of the car, but you cannot run through the parking lot without holding my hand. Sure wear that crazy outfit to school, one day you’ll decide six different layers of stripes isn’t necessary.

My mission isn’t to go to battle over every little thing my kids do that goes against my grain, or to control their behaviors to the point they can only respond with robot precision. With two kids in the same developmental stage of pushing boundaries, I’d loose my ever loving mind (and many days I do) trying to keep them perfectly in line. I think they’ll go farther in life when they know mommy loves them enough to accept them just the way they are; even with their crazy hair, mismatched outfits and refusal to eat my stellar breakfasts!

So parents with strong willed picky eaters your kids are going to be OK! You, are going to be OK! Believe me, I know how hard it is to choke back the tears and suppress the obscenities every time your efforts are rejected. As for me, I don’t think eating breakfast before leaving the house is ever going to be a non-issue, but I also won’t let it be our biggest battle. In the grand scheme of life letting my kid eat a weird breakfast on the way to school isn’t what’s going to land her in therapy one day. I am sure I am doing plenty of other things wrong that will keep her future therapist in a comfortable lifestyle.

Whatever. It’s just breakfast.

 

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here, Find her two party Body Beautiful project here and here. 

Find more from Roxanne at Hudson Valley Parent and at Masshole Mommy

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Recipe Round Up!

Some of you have requested recipes for my sneaky sweet treats. You can Download your FREE copies using the links below.

All recipes have been toddler tested and hubby approved! Hope you enjoy!

 

avocado pudding Chocolate Avocado Pudding

My kids LOVE this recipe! I won’t name names, but one very picky eater won’t even touch an avocado. But, you mix it with dark chocolate cocoa powder and a some honey she’s all over it! We may have also enjoyed this as a lunch option once or twice.

 

Cookie snack Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookies

This twist on a traditional chocolate chip cookie goes completely undetected! The only difference is the texture. It doesn’t get crispy like a thin cookie, but remains doughy (will firm up once cool).

 

 

Banana ice cream Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is a great dairy alternative for those with sensitivities! It takes a little longer with freeze time. My kids thought it was a fun “experiment.” Hey, whatever gets them to eat it! You can skip the crackers and eat the banana ice cream straight from the bowl! The flavor combinations are endless. Add in peanut butter, frozen berries, chocolate. Get creative!

 

 

Hummus Sweet potato hummus

Picky eater says what? This homemade hummus made with chickpeas and sweet potatoes has a slight sweetness. It pairs well with apples, carrots, purple grapes and the toddler staple: Goldfish crackers. As a bonus, I used this hummus in place of oil in a boxed brownie mix. It made cake like, dense brownies. I am pretending the extra protein balanced out all the sugar in the mix.

 

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Please share any favorite ‘hidden’ recipes!

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