Here is the thing…..I need to sleep. Like REALLY require 8-9 solid hours, or I’m in big trouble. Last
night I got seven and I am on the edge people!! Being a new mother, one of the things I struggled with the most was the lack of sleep.
But as many moms can attest, there’s just so much to get done in a day!
It’s easier said than done for many moms to turn their brains off and get to bed. Nowadays with lunches to make and work to get done, it’s a hard transition from my to-do list for tomorrow to my head hitting the pillow. I forget throughout the evening how tired I really am. But the minute I shower I end up a hit with a wave of exhaustion. It’s like something is lifted and suddenly I can remember that I’ve been tired this whole time!
There are so many things in life that work like that. We work our way through lunch and only later realize we’re starving. Heck- for many new moms we focus on getting our babies fed, changed and ready before realizing that we need to pee!
I hear a similar sentiment from a lot of the parents I work with who suddenly realize just how much mealtime has been affecting them. It’s not until we are a couple of sessions in that they realize just how stressed they have been feeling until now.
Whether you’re thinking of working with a professional or working through some of your mealtime struggles on your own, there are many strategies you can use. Those strategies will improve the overall dinner experience!
Three strategies you can use to address your mealtime stress
1. Ensure your children are showing up to meals hungry
A lot of the parents I work with have an open access policy when it comes to snacks in the kitchen cabinets. For many kids, this means endless snacks until dinner time. Now, think of your least favorite food. If someone asked you to eat it after eating your favorite meal…you’d probably turn it down. But if you were hungry, you’d be more likely to try it! I recommend my clients institute a “kitchen’s closed” policy within the hour before a meal. That way you know your children are coming to dinner ready to eat.
2. It’s not always a good time for a new food introduction
For picky eaters who may have had stressful mealtimes in the past, introducing new foods can be stressful. When times it’s been a particularly busy day and everyone is tired it’s probably not the best time to introduce a new food. It’s just as important to know when to try new foods as when not to.
3. Recognize that it won’t happen overnight
There are varying sayings such as “It takes 15-20 times of seeing a food before most children will try it”. It’s helpful for parents to know that their kids might not love broccoli the first time they try it. Be patient with your children and celebrate every milestone. Even if your child hasn’t yet eaten a new food if they’re willing to smell it, touch it or even help you prepare it THAT my friends are what we call a win!
The first time I meet with parents I always ask them to rate their mealtime stress out of ten and many of them ask for if it’s okay to score higher! It’s okay to admit that mealtime can be stressful. It’s important to know that there is a help to be had. By ensuring your children are coming to mealtimes ready to eat, choosing the most appropriate times to introduce new foods, and managing your expectations for timing you are on your way to creating a more successful mealtime!
I often hear parents who wish they reached for help sooner when it was just becoming an issue because
they never knew you could live without mealtime stress!
Ahuva Magder Hershkop is a Registered Dietitian. With a focus in pediatric health, including introducing complementary foods, maintaining a healthy diet in the context of Autism Spectrum Disorder and Food Allergy. Addressing picky eating and helping parents reduce their mealtime stress! For more information visit armyourselfdietetics.com. Join Ahuva’s mom’s community on FB “Busy Moms Guide to Feeding Your Family”, and follow on Instagram @AhuvaRD
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