This "babysitting" business all started when my good friend became dissatisfied with the arrangements she had for her 4 year old daughter. So after thinking about it for a few seconds, I told her "well, I'm not working, I don't have any plans to go back in the near future, why don't you just send the girls to me?".....
One kid led to another, and another, and OMG where did all these children come from!! My home has turned into a ZOO.
And nevermind where they came from, what on earth am I going to feed them?
The palettes of these wee critics are amazingly diverse. One will refuse to eat any kind of fruit whatsoever, but will happily sit down to a plate of raw vegetables and munch all day. Another won't eat fruit unless it's in a smoothie. Most of them will turn their noses up at meat (except of course the tubed variety), and oddly enough, they will usually refuse any kind of sauce or dressing (excluding my own "ketchup headed" son).
So here's a list of what I try to keep in my fridge to get through the twice-a-day piranha attack!
- Hot Dogs (ack)
- Peanut Butter (NOT in the fridge!)
- Celery (and cheese whiz)
- Baby Carrots
- Mann's Sugar Snap Peas
- Mac and Cheese (yeah baby)
- Gallons and Gallons of Juice
- Sliced Deli Ham
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Frozen Chicken Nuggets
- Mini Pizzas
I don't support all day grazing, demand feeding, and I'm not known to be easy to bargain with- So how do I get the little primates to eat?
The "Options A and B" approach- they think they have some control- if they try for "Option C", they are informed that the only alternative to A and B is nothing at all. That usually settles it.
So kids, you can have carrot sticks and grilled cheese, or ham sandwiches and broccoli. Invariably there are one or two monkeys who like to go against the flow and ask for whatever the other kids didn't want.... I claim the ultimate power of veto. Never, under any circumstances ask the following question "Hey, what does everyone want for lunch?".
Some method to the madness- as follows
- Yes, kids still think hotdogs cut up in the mac and cheese is awesome. One of the kids hates the cheese sauce so I set some plain pasta aside before adding the magic orange powder.
- Make a HUGE platter of cut up fruits and veggies, serve on the front porch picnic-style
- Cut the grilled cheese into finger strips for the "Dip Kids"
- Serve the veggies before the main dish "you can have your pizza after you eat your carrots"
- Offer water only at meal times, they seem less likely to chug their whole drink and decide they're too full to finish dinner.
- Blackmail, Extort, Bribe! Do what you have to do, but be prepared to follow through!
- Whenever possible, get them to help prepare the food with you, they seem to like it even better when they had a hand (or just a dirty finger) in making it. One of the BEST (maybe one of the messiest) lunches I've done is to get some mini pizza shells, some deli meat, a can of pizza sauce and a bag of grated cheese. They get to build their own pizzas!!
Even the pickiest eater here has come around over time. He tries new things, has finally stopped gagging at the table (this under threat of bodily harm), and does a lot less complaining in general. Yes, he's gone home on an empty stomach a few nights, but he hasn't really suffered for it, and his mother continues to be surprised at the things he's started eating.
Some days I do two entire dishwasher loads. Some days I just close my eyes on my way through the kitchen. But nobody can ever say they starved to death at my house!