Posts Tagged: Parenting

Dinner time Debates: How to Take the Stress out of Supper

They always love the food they plant!

People often ask what it is like to feed half dozen kids. Feeding families can be a “thing” and many parents report that dinner time can be the most stressful time of the day. I decided early on that I didn’t want meal time to create anxiety for me or my kids, so here are my few tips for relaxing and enjoying  fun family meals.

-          I don’t let myself get upset if the kids turn their noses up at what is being served for dinner. There’s enough variety that they’re going to like something on the menu.  As long as they try one bite of what is being served up, they are welcome to fill their bellies with the raw carrots on the table. No one has starved yet.

-          We keep meals simple and kid friendly. The Daddy-o works out of town during the week and I’m not a foodie, so this adult is happy to make easy dinner recipes and eat with the kiddos.

-          For me, the only thing more annoying than cooking is coming up with fast recipes and meal ideas.  I have a four week meal planner posted in the kitchen for everyone to see. It makes for effective shopping, creates less wasted food and saves me from hearing, “what’s for dinner?” six times a day.

Here is an example of my September meal plan filled with quick recipes. I use one of our quick dinner ideas on Wednesdays because the kids have hot lunches at school that day. I also try to have something they all like on a Monday, because let’s face it – Mondays can be tough. On the last Friday of the month, we order in. The menu is based on different children’s preferences and the evening activity schedule. Some meals are faster to prepare and clean up. Those are meals we have on nights where we have to be at music, dance, hockey and taekwondo right after dinner.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 Fish and Chips/raw veg Chicken drumsticks/mashed potato/corn Breakfast for dinner (eggs/bacon) Pasta: spaghetti and meatballs Home-made pizza/raw veg
Week 2 Salmon/ asparagus/noodles Chicken breast/ mashed spuds/corn Homemade soup Pasta: pesto Chicken and Cesar salad
Week 3 Tacos Butter chicken and rice Salad wraps Chicken snitzel/roast potatoes/tomato and avocado salsa Hotdogs and hamburgers/salad
Week 4 Cheesy pasta Ribs/noodles/corn on the cob Crepes and omelets Bangers and mash/ peas ORDER IN

Substitutes: curried sausage, chili, perogies, Swedish meatballs and rice, lasagna.

How does your family survive the dinner hour? Do you have any quick and easy dinner ideas or meal planner tips that make this time of day less stressful in your house?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

When One Parent Travels … a lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

Most of the time, I have these beauties all to myself!

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Mommy, There’s A Monster!

One great thing about watching our babies grow is witnessing them become more imaginative. With that overactive imagination though can come fear of boogie monsters, dragons, ghosts, and the like. As parents, how do we deal with this anxiety in children?

Well, we can look to the SARS epidemic as an example of what to do and what not to do when managing fear.

If respected doctors tell you that there is no reason to be afraid of SARS in Toronto, but then cancel their own conference in the same city, the public deduces that if the experts think there is something to fear, then there must be.

To “less knowledgeable” children, you are the “expert” on everything. If you say “there is no such things as monsters” and then promptly check under the bed, you may unintentionally be demonstrating a reason why they should be afraid. “Heck even the experts are checking the beds and closets!”

Diminishing Fears

We cannot control our children’s fears, but how we react to them can work to either support or de-emphasize them. One strategy is to be “unimpressed” (neither dismissive nor all consumed) and talk in a matter of fact fashion. Don’t waver in your conviction that there are no monsters by saying things like, “Really? You saw a monster in your closet. What did he look like?” It is more comforting to say “There are no such things as monsters. You are creating them with your imagination. And what a wonderful imagination it is!”

Coping Strategies For Fear

Teach your children coping techniques to help them work through their fears. Try some of these responses to help them overcome their anxiety:

“I understand that you are afraid, but I know you are safe and I would never let anything harm you, so you need to think happy warm thoughts instead of scary thoughts. That will help you get to sleep.”

“You’ll have to have a little talk with that imagination of yours and let it know that it is getting in the way of sleeping.”

“When you decide it’s bugging you so much that you have to stop thinking those thoughts – I am sure you will!”

“If watching this video or movie before bed makes you imagine scary things, perhaps you would like to watch something else at bedtime.”

Watch For “The Hidden Pay-off”

Don’t give a “hidden pay-off” by giving your child exceptional service such as letting them sleep in your bed, or keeping you hostage in their room until they fall asleep. If you enjoy caring for your child in these loving ways, do it because you want to. Don’t make them create “issues” to mobilize you into this type of affection or they’ll learn to use issues as a technique to get you to care for them.

 

About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at www.alysonschafer.com

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