Right now, I’m cringing inside. I’m struggling with myself, a little unsure of what is right. I think I might even be cranky about it. It has to do with the picture above of my kids in utter delight, examining their showbag spoils.
On a glorious cloud streaked Winter day, we caught the train to the EKKA (The Brisbane Show). Below are some of my favourite photographs from the day.
My children were Christmas-day excited about the EKKA, and it brought back many memories of my own childhood…and the showbags. How I loved the showbags! Weeks after the EKKA, my sisters and I would play shops, bargaining, trading and eating the copious amounts of lollies. This was a very rare treat amongst our meat and 3 veg stable diet. It felt unbelievable! Magical! Those festive memories (especially surrounding the food!) hold very strong with me.
As a parent, I work hard to provide healthy food for my kids. I also strive to educate about making good choices about food and exercise by example, and taking up opportunities as we live life. Our society in general, is extremely excessive in many ways, and it’s hard to not get caught up in it all.
My husband bought the kids 2 showbags at the EKKA. That’s a lot of lollies, and I cringe at all the junk they are eating. I really hate it. I’m freaking out on the inside, and I struggle to know if I’m doing the right thing. Some say, “They are only kids! Let them have fun.” More say, “Moderation is everything.” Others say, “Sugar is so bad, why would you feed your kids that junk?”
What do I say? I don’t know what I say. I’m still deciding, which is probably pretty poor form since I’ve been a parent for 11 years now. I’m not sure what I say, but I do know what I think, what I know. I see my children’s health in the big picture, and these are some of the things I’m thinking about:
1. A treat IS a treat
In our house, a treat really IS a treat. What I mean is, we rarely eat lollies, chips or cake. Only on special occasions like Christmas, birthdays (and the EKKA). It’s NOT a weekly (or monthly) thing. We eat dessert about once a week to fortnight. I just don’t have junk in the house, and then it’s much easier to make good food choices.
2. Good food
We talk a lot about food, because it’s such a special part of life really. Good food is part of our family culture. We talk about good food, and we eat good food. My kids love vegetables, fruit and brown bread because it’s been part of their life from a very early age. I believe introducing many different healthy foods, persistence, education and leading by example, all have played a part in how my children accept healthy food as an every day part of our lives. Cucumber is one of their favourites (which even I think is weird).
3. Normal Diet
Though this time, when the kids are eating unusually high amounts of sweet food, I work hard at ensuring our normal diet continues. So there are some rules for when the kids can eat their lollies (for example, NO lollies before breakfast). I don’t want to filling up on junk.
4. Physical activity
Jumping on the trampoline for hours each day is the norm for my kids and they get plenty of exercise each day.
My kids are now in primary school, so our family has entered a wonderful window in family life where we are able to do many fun things together, investing in memories. When my kids were young, they very rarely ate lollies.
I reinforce to the children that this is an out of the ordinary treat, and if they did eat lollies all the time, there would be many negative health implication in the future.
Maybe I’m trying to justify my choice. Maybe. I’m trying to approach this, not from a parent’s perspective, but instead from a former child’s perspective. (And I find that hard!) But I have so, so many good memories from my own childhood, and I want to surround these festive times with a lot of magic for my own kids too. I believe these special times act as memories anchors, as our children mature into adulthood.
Right now, I feel a little unsure, but in the scheme of things, I do feel happy with our attitude towards health as a family. There IS balance overall, even if right now there is a small window of indulgent. So, I’m making a choice to close my eyes and think of the memories. Reality is just around the corner. And that’s a good thing. So is the magic in between.