This is not a crafty post or even a tutorial. Rather it is an "Ah-ha!" moment I had that has helped to maintain my sanity. And truthfully, I know many of you organized moms out there have been doing this for years, so perhaps my idea is more "Duh." than "Ah-ha!" In any case, it's something that's saved me time, headache and battles with my children. Just in case you, like me, have yet to join the super-moms out there with their highly intimidating propensity for genius here it is.
It's a basket. In which you place snacks.
No, it's genius. Really. Would you like to know why?
An average day begins like this:
bug wakes up at some horrid hour when the sky is still dark.
He wakes everyone else up begging for food. He's like a dog that way.
He eats breakfast.
He begs for a snack.
mini has been awakened by his pleading.
mini wants breakfast.
bug finishes his snack.
K arrives for the day.
K sees the remnants of bug's snack and wants one too, although she has just eaten a mere 15 minutes ago.
mini sees the older kids eat and finish their snacks, and begins to beg for hers.
By the time everyone has eaten breakfast, finished snacks, gotten cleaned up, been forced by threat of death or worse into their clothing and helped pick up the remains of the food chaos, it's lunch time.
While I make lunch, the kids beg for a snack.
Not just any snack will do. They want the grossest, most disgusting, ooey, gooey, sticky, sweet, sugary snack possible.
Lots of crying and carrying commences when they are denied.
After lunch and the clean up resulting from lunch (which sometimes includes shampooing hair), the kids want a snack before quiet time.
The kids have quiet time. Which should be called "Not So Quiet Time."
When the kids get up from quiet time, they want a snack.
Now, you'd think that with all of this eating going on, they'd each break the scales at about 300 pounds. But no, it's generally just a nibble here, or a nosh there. Plus I was constantly shooting down requests for "Super Chocolatey Squishy Sticky Bears" or "Sugar Overload On a Stick." I was tired of making snacks. (Is that awful? Does that make me a bad mom?) And I was tired of the battles.
Enter one snack basket. I found this cute little antique metal basket at the thrift store. I sanitized it. I sanitized it again. Can never be too careful.
And then I proceeded to fill it with snacks for the kiddos. Not just any snacks. HEALTHY snacks. Snacks that I would feel good about them eating. Even if said snack prevented them from eating the next meal, I'd still feel ok about the nutrition they got, because it was a healthy snack and not potato chips. Or sticky bears. Or what have you.
Some of our favorites? Applesauce, individual fruit cups in water or juice (NOT syrup), String cheese, red grapes, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots.
Also appreciated but not pictured: sugar snap peas (mini LOVES these), individual yogurt cups, clementines, sliced strawberries, broccoli (also a favorite of mini's. She's weird.)
Now, I didn't just throw them all in the basket. I washed them, cut them (if needed) and separated them into single serving sizes. Now they are super easy to grab and much more likely to be eaten since all the work was already done. (please note: this was done as much for my children as for my husband who will not eat grapes unless I wash them, pull them off the vine and put them in a smaller bag for him because they are just too much work.)
I do realize that all those individual baggies get expensive and wasteful... I do reuse them when possible. I was also thinking that I should just make my own little reusable baggies and have been looking for tutorials. **Thinking out loud - Or I could just use little plastic containers**...
The final step in the master plan? Placing it within easy reach. I actually reorganized my entire fridge - moving shelves around and all - to make room for this basket on the lowest shelf. The kids can get to it all by themselves, and the items within are healthy enough that I don't have to tell them to stop eating them! (Although I WOULD if it got all out of control... I mean, I'm not encouraging the "foraging all day" thing...)
The kids know that when they want a snack, they can go look in the "snack basket" and anything there is fair game. Now I'm not fighting with them over what's available, appropriate, or how I just barely made them lunch and I don't want to make them more food, thankyouverymuch.
Note: I've do this as much as possible with foods that don't need to be refrigerated as well. I place them on a small wooden lazy susan on our counter. The items are in little bowls or cups. There are raisins, healthy granola bars, bananas, and sometimes crackers or some kind of nuts. The fours especially love having options and the decision making power.
mini is just starting to love this as well - so I've discovered upon attempting to help and being yelled at... "MYSOWF! I DO IT!"
I guess that WAS the whole point.