It’s a well known fact that in early childhood, food preferences are most influenced by primary caregivers…
What I Vowed Never to Do
Before I had children, I had a pretty detailed list of how I was going to parent. I was pretty certain on a number of things I would never do, and of the things I would definitely do. Today, whilst catching up with my old friend Lisa McKay (a talented author BTW – you should buy her new book) we were reflecting on just those things. We were reflecting on these lists whilst my 2 children (3.5 yrs and 18 months) did many of the things on that “I would never…” list and I was hardly even batting an eyelid, although looking back on it now I am groaning and cringing a fair amount.
This is how the hour of our catch up went:
It was within half an hour of dinner time, and I let the boys eat cookies (more than one each) and gave them juice (this was probably Noah’s 4th taste of juice ever and Beau’s 1st).
I let the boys eat their fruit squeezey packs before the main meal.
I gave up trying to feed them both the main meal (smoked salmon pasta) after about 5 minutes (I usually persevere far longer than this).
I gave Beau a cucumber stick, and I have just realised that I have no idea what happened to that (apologies to Lisa’s Aunt and Uncle if they find that in a day or two squished somewhere unpleasant).
I let all of the above happen whilst the boys wandered around the TV room where we were catching up spilling crumbs and juice everywhere. I think I did mention a few times to Beau that he should sit down, but in all truth, there was very little persistence on my part to enforce that requirement.
On the drive home I pulled into McDonald’s and bought a cheeseburger and fries and shared the fries with the boys (though I did manage to evade Noah’s questions about the name of this “dinner pick up place” under some misplaced belief that if he doesn’t know the name of that particular “family restaurant” he may not pester me to go back there. Somehow I think the “salty, crispy, yummy, chips” are going to lead to a fair amount of pestering regardless of whether he knows the name or not).
So what are some other things on my “I would never…” parenting list? A lot of them have to do with food, with bedtime and with sleep.
Food and meal times
I was pretty determined that I was going to cook one meal for my children and if they didn’t eat it/like it, they were going to be hungry. This was all good in theory and I even stuck to it a few times, but then I had a 12 month old, or an 18 month old, or a 3 year old waking up at midnight or 2 am hungry and demanding food, or milk, or both. In the end it is far better for everyone to make a vegemite sandwich or serve weetbix when the grilled perch and beans, roasted lamb & vegetables, or other nutritious meal is rejected. I can scream and cry and howl at my 18 month old all I want, but if he doesn’t want to open his mouth, he won’t.
I was also pretty determined I was going to introduce my children to a huge range of foods, so that they wouldn’t be picky eaters. But following on from the previous point – well it is also far better for everyone, nutritionally and emotionally, to cook meals for them I know they will eat most nights of the week. I won’t go so far as to only serve them one type of food – such as only serving them pizza (which I have heard of by the way – for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week), but I do often take the path of least resistance – googey eggs and soldier toast, frozen peas with every meal, smoked salmon pasta (besides tonights state of affairs this usually is a sure winner), spinach pie.
Sleep and bedtime
I was pretty sure I would have babies who slept through the night from 8 weeks. When my eldest, Noah did sleep through the night for the first time at 8 weeks I gave myself a little pat on the back (after the initial panic about why he didn’t wake up to feed). But this surprising success was short lived. Noah was 14 months when he began consistently sleeping through the night. Beau was 14 months old as well. Now at 3.5 years and 18 months, my husband and I rarely have a night of unbroken sleep. Between wet beds, bad dreams, wanting milk, being cold, and traffic noise we are really fighting a losing battle with this one.
I was pretty certain that letting your baby cry to go to sleep was the best method and wasn’t that hard. That was until I had a baby and couldn’t bare hearing him cry. The first night we tried “Ferber” with Noah I think I cried more than he did. I disliked it so much I hoped for 14 months with my second that he would learn to self-sooth. He didn’t. I know that after both my boys learnt to self-sooth to sleep they were both happier boys, but I never understood how hard it would be getting there until I had to do it myself.
I was absolutely never having children sleep in my bed. These days between the hours of about 2-5am we have either 1 or both of the boys in bed with us. I have given up fighting it. I just might buy a King size bed to accommodate us all.
Other “I would never…”
I was not going to let my children watch TV. And whilst we have made the decision to not own a TV for this reason, I have to admit that TV, a DVD, or a downloaded episode of The Octonauts, is a wonderful little entertainer when you have to jump in the shower, make a few phone calls, pay the bills, or many of the other everyday items on the “to-do” list which are best done without a child hanging on one leg or in one arm, with the children relatively quiet and not jumping off furniture.
Oh, I could go on and on. But you get the picture. My “before-children-I-would-never-do”…list is out the window.
What about you? What was on your “I would never” list which you find yourself doing now that you are a parent?
Author: Bree Hulme
I’m an Aussie Mum to my 2 American sons and my Australian daughter. My husband and I moved to the USA in 2006. We lived on 2 coasts, in 2 cities, we were blessed with our 2 sons & grew to love the USA as our 2nd home.
After almost 5 years in the USA we have returned home to Australia. We bought a house and were blessed with the arrival of our daughter.
I am the Mum who dresses her kids to match. Who stays up until midnight hanging a hand-made bunting for my kids’ birthdays. And who thinks her kids are the bee’s-knees.
But I know that life isn’t always smiles. Sometimes the best part of the day in nap-time or bedtime.
Before having my kids, I was a Psychologist. In Australia, I worked with people with &/or effected by HIV/AIDS and later in the USA I wrote self-help materials for Humanitarian workers and their families about trauma and stress. Now I dabble a little in social media and advertising. But my passions are photography and writing.