The summer holidays are almost upon us. The days are long and the nights are short…wait a minute, that only applies to adults without children! During the holidays, the days are long and the nights are even longer!
Whether you have school age children, babies or toddlers, your daily routine takes on a different life during the school holidays. For those of us who rely on toddler groups as their main source of adult contact, it can often be a lonely time as many of these groups and also shut down over the summer.
Even places we usually visit with our younger children, become much busier; the parks are full of older children, museums and attractions suddenly feel loud and scary to children who have been used to quieter environments.
The same goes for our eating habits. We might eat lighter foods if it is hot, we might be away on holiday and therefore have a different routine. Foods such as ice cream tend to feature more and picnics are more frequent.
Here, I’ll share some tips around eating during the summer holidays which I hope will help bring some order into the upheaval but also provide you with some flexibility around exploring different foods you might not have considered.
- Familiar foods. If you are going somewhere busy and new which may be overwhelming for your child, take food they are familiar with. Although we don’t want to encourage eating for comfort, familiar foods can help calm a child when they are in the middle of a sensory overload (offer them at the normal snack and meal times though not to calm them down at a different time).
- Plan your food. Whether you are going out or doing more low key things, having a plan helps to make sure you offer a range of different foods and get the nutritional balance your child needs. If you think they might have dessert when they are at a at a friend’s house for tea, you can steer them away from the ice cream van and let them know they can have something sweet later.
- Batch cook snacks. There are some snack ideas in my Weaning on a Budget ebook but batch cooking snacks and freezing them can save a fortune. Things like mini savoury muffins or pancakes or oaty biscuits all freeze well. You can also batch prepare snacks like popcorn (for the over 5s), pots of nuts or salad sticks ( these need to be kept in the fridge). Having pots you can grab is so helpful.
- Picnic food. Try and make sure you have some fruit, some veg, some protein (meat, fish, cheese, eggs, beans etc), some wholegrain starchy carb (bread, pasta, rice, couscous, quinoa etc) and some water. Don’t forget to include your ice pack! Make the picnic more interesting by including different types of fruit or cutting sandwiches into little triangles. Lots of little pots are also fun for little ones.
- Stick to a similar pattern with food. I know it’s not always possible but if you can stick to having three meals and two snacks at roughly the same time each day, that will help with the appetite control. I don’t mean weight focused appetite control, I mean the appetite control where your little one asks for food every 5 minutes and then when you make their tea, they won’t eat it because they are full.
To do this, you might need to ask questions to be able to work out the pattern of the day. If you do give them something to keep them going, try to give them fruit or veg as these are often the things which get left if they have grazed too much.
Sticking To A Routine
Summer holidays are supposed to be enjoyable but they are very different when you have children.
It’s ok to do things just because it’s easier. Remember though, sometimes it’s helpful to think a bit more long term and work out whether easier this time will also mean easier next time too!
For example, if my toddler screams at me for another snack when my older two children get in from school I can either give it to her (to stop her from screaming the house down) or I can think about the consequences (that she will do the same thing the next day) and then work out what I’m going to do.
Routine is helpful for little ones. And it’s therefore helpful for us.
If your food patterns seem out of control, don’t forget you can always book an appointment with me here and together we can come up with a plan that works best for your needs.
Happy holidays. x
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