Food and Family Time
by Marlena from Wisconsin
There are a few smart shopping strategies I use when out and about with the kids. Before we even leave the house, I make sure to menu plan and figure out what we need.
Then I will choose the store we are going to and make my list based on the layout of the store. But to keep them occupied, I try to find stores that cater to kids, such as stores that have the "Customer in Training" little carts, carts shaped like cars, or ones with double occupancy to keep both kids in one spot.
I also find ways to keep them entertained and involved. I might task the older one (age 3 ½) with picking some bananas or give him options of cereals to choose from (ones that are covered with WIC benefits too). If they are sitting nicely in the cart, they can earn a reward of some sort (the Aldi fun aisle is always a winner), or I play "I Spy" with them and have them look for things while I shop, such as “find something blue.”
When we get home, they can help unload the car, put things away that are at their level, and get a snack of some sort. With meal prep, they can sit on the counter and watch what I am doing (if something is sharp), but I also have a chopping tool that they can put mushrooms or peppers in and dice. I love to bake, so a lot of baking involves the kids, from getting the ingredients to measuring to pouring the batter into the pans or tins, and of course the best part, licking the spoon.
Eating as a family is always a challenge because we live on a farm, which keeps dad occupied most nights. I try to have meals prepped and ready to go so they just need to be popped in the oven or heated up quickly, so that I am not spending excessive time away from the kids or being preoccupied with tasks when they just want to play outside.
Once dinner is ready, we make sure to eat as a family without distractions.
I know it can be hard for both parents and kids to leave things off the table, but the kids really do mirror our behavior, so it's important that we show them what it means to eat together and talk about our day. After dinner, we can clean up and then have fun playing. After the kids go to bed is when I do dishes. While it is important that they understand the cleaning part too, I try to make time for them after dinner, since it seems like the nights just fly by as it is. As they get older, I will incorporate more responsibilities, but I do find it's important that they still be kids and have fun as well.
This blog was written by one of our guest bloggers, Marlena.
About Marlena. . .
My name is Marlena and I have been a participant in WIC for the last four years, most recently joining as an employee as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. I have two boys, ages 1 and 3 1/2 that keep me on my toes. We live on a dairy farm and make the most of spending as much time outside as possible.
Want more inspiration about how to involve your kids and encourage eating nutritious foods? Check out a few lessons at www.wichealth.org. Our Choosing Healthy Foods category is a great place to start!
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