Thursday, April 4, 2013

Seriously, someone has to cook?

I need to just be honest, when you have children you have to commit to fixing meals at home.  Our babies cannot have all their nutrition from restaurants and take out joints.
They need to have healthy foods several times a day as meals and snacks.

Now this will not require anyone to become a great chef but someone must be responsible to ensure that all food groups are available and that items are fresh and properly seasoned.  So no spicy or gassy foods for young eaters.  Small portions at first.  Lots of color makes it appealing.  Cooked and uncooked selections are good.

The goal is to help expose your child's pallet to different flavors and to teach them to develop a healthy eating lifestyle.  The tongue tastes primarily - sweet, salt, sour, and bitter.  Initially kids can identify sweet and salt.  Sour and Bitter soon follow.  Baby foods are surprisingly bland.  Once you begin to serve solids, do it slowly.  Start with flavors they have experienced with the baby food such as peas, chicken, green beans, carrots.

Begin cooking simple meals - sauted chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans, for example.  Children need small bites to manage.  Cut up the chicken and beans. Put a little dollop of mashed potatoes on their plate.  Give the toddler 2-3 bites of each.  Everything will be finger food.
Let the child touch it.  You can also put it in the mouth to let them taste it if they have trouble getting it there with their hands.  Applaud them for tasting and encourage good chewing.  Show them that you too like it by eating some yourself.  Tell them what it is and how it is good for them.  All this is encouragement to keep trying new foods.

You will begin to find out what they like and don't like.  Keep an open mind, they are learning a new world here.  My kids ate any and everything I ate and enjoyed.  If I had it then they were dying to taste it.  Their pallets are very diverse as a result.  Now there are foods they ate as kids that they no longer desire but their approach to food is don't knock it until you try it. 

I cooked most nights and we truly enjoyed the time together testing recipes.  Both of them cook now and call me about something they want me to taste.  I love it!

So make the time, take the time and cook for your kids.  The benefits are numerous and your family will appreciate the kitchen love.  Knowing you are preparing quality foods and nutritious portions is at the core of every parent's heart.

Parenting - the happiest job you'll ever have!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Precious and Priceless Photo memories

Having your first child?  Congratulations, it is a wonderful and exciting journey.  Even if you are on your second, third, fourth, etc. capturing photos is an important and frequent activity you can enjoy and cherish.

For the first-time parent, photos and video are second nature.  One or both parents has a camera permanenty attached to their hand.  You want to remember each new baby skill and accomplishment.  The first crawl, self-feeding, walking, pulling up, recognizing your voice or face, funny laugh or cry, even times the little one is frightened seem so adorable you must save it to a digital file.

Problems set in when you are expecting the second and beyond.  Typically not so many shots are taken.  The crawling and walking well, to be honest, you've seen them happen before and it is not so amazing.  This does not make you a bad parent, it simply implies that you are busier and less idealistic about parenthood. Believe me the kids notice who got more photos and videos taken. Anyway.....back to taking good pictures.

For second and up children you'll need to be more proactive and diliberate about taking photos.  Carry your camera, take pictures everywhere you go and have fun with it.  Let the kids who can handle a camera take a few shots, make sure you get is some by having a third party snap a few poses.  Don't forget videos, they are very necessary for kids because they usually have animated moments fit for historic preservation. You will need fodder for embarassment later. (smile)

With phones now that have great cameras most of us are never without one.  Use It!  The key is downloading and printing the best frames.  Once printed you must place them in an album and add a descriptive tag to tell at least the time, place and activity plus everyone who is in the shot.

You and your children will appreciate this effort whenever they want to walk down memory lane.  There will be great moments represented that help them know their past and move confidently into their futures.  These pictures will be worth more than gold, they will be priceless!

Parenting - the happiest job you'll ever have!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Rah Rah Ree - A Bedtime Indeed!

Every child needs sleep, even if it is not when you do!   They catch short naps at first, growing into longer periods of rest as their activity levels increase.  The key is to set some guidelines for your little one so that the entire family gets to experience normality.

Now, I know how hard this can be initially.  Baby boy isn't sleepy.  Baby girl had a late nap. You are not at home to put them down just yet.  The grandparents are visiting and want more time with him or her.   Yeah, yeah, still the child must sleep.

By setting a bedtime you help everyone identify a pattern to follow, including the infant or toddler.  Typically a bath, putting on PJ's, moving to the nursery and maybe a story are good signals that bedtime is here.  For example saying, " OK son, it's time for beddy-by. Let's get ready for your nice warm bath to calm you down, then mommy, or daddy , or someone will read you a story."  Toddlers may even play quietly in their room for a few moments before bed.  You will have to repeat the plan and goal - it is time to lay down and go to sleep, it is time for bed.

I promise you will be happier in a short time.  There are even kids who go to bed on their own once they understand the process.  But I'm not suggesting yours will be one of them!

When you have changes like visitors, or are away from home be aware of your plan.  Stand firm on your timetable and just explain about bedtime.  These are the small sacrifices that bring big rewards as a parent.

One last thing - try to avoid feeding your child just before bedtime.  Any snack should be eaten at least 2 hours before they go down.  This helps them sleep more soundly.

Be patient and you will soon have time at the end of your day for adult activities because you little one will be resting comfortably in their bed.

Parenting - the happiest job you'll ever have!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Assigning chores - Have fun with it!

Children can honestly begin to have responsibility for tasks around the house as early as 3.  Surprised?  You should know that the average child has command of 200+ words.  Many more than NO!

One of the first tasks they can assume is picking up their toys after play.  This requires you, the parent, to have a place for those toys that is accessible and established.  A box, bin, basket or whatever located in a common area is perfect.

By making it a little game you toddler will join in readily.  The simple direction of " please pick up your toys and put them away" is not enough.  Of course, you need to demonstrate what you expect a few times to help the child understand.

For example, tell you child that you have a new game called 'Toy Pile" or whatever you want to call it.  In this case, Mr. Clean needs your help to build a toy pile to stop Dirty Dan.  Dirty Dan can't come if everything is in order.  So make it a timed event and quickly pick up and store the toys.  Talk along the way to your child about being fast and efficient.  Such statements as " Hurry dear, Dirty Dan is coming.  Mr. Clean is depending on us to help him. Baby you are doing such a good job stacking your toys.  Mr. Clean will be so happy.  Mom is glad you are so smart and strong and can move so fast."

Remember to praise and show appreciate for a job well done.  Kids really want to make us happy at that age so most will easily repeat the pattern.   This can be extended to their rooms as well.  Again be sure to have a specific place to put items.

You will enjoy having this transferred to your child and seeing how dedicated each becomes.  They will mimic this by telling you to put your toys away, and instruct play dates to do the same.  I did nothing but chuckle at this behavior.

Parenting - the happiest job you'll ever have!