Close My Eyes and Think of the Memories

August 15, 2012

ekka spoils

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.

ekka skyline

swing ride at the ekka

sideshow alley at the ekka

sideshow alley at the ekka

dogem cars at the ekka

dogem car at the ekka

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.

5. Age

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.

6. Education

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.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

JulieNo Gravatar August 15, 2012 at 12:22 pm

It sounds like you have a great approach.

I also struggle with the balance between letting the kids “be kids” and keeping their diets on track. Because mine are so little, I also find that I compensate, and I end up eating more junk food than I should (e.g. I finish off their lolly bags from birthday parties). Our kids do have something “unhealthy” each day (e.g. a biscuit or piece of slice or cake – usually either something we made at home or a milk arrowroot or 2), but they also eat plenty of fruit, yoghurt, cereal, sandwiches, meat and vegetables (well, Mr 3 is not so good on the vegetables, but they are always offered!).

This is maybe a little off topic, but it is also funny to watch their bodies take shape. My 4-year-old and 3-year-old eat an almost identical diet (apart from the lack of vegetables for Mr 3), and yet my 4-year-old is a string bean, and my 3-year-old is lean but quite solid. They are 14 months apart and weigh the same. It has really convinced me that so much of our bodies are what we are born with and we can only make good choices to make ourselves as healthy as possible for our shape.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

So nice to hear how other mums feel about this topic. I laughed at the compensations we make as mums too. lol. My kids do eat baked goods most days too…like a muffin etc.

Yes! I know what you mean. My 2nd and 3rd girls are 2 years apart but they are the same size in clothes.

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Collett SmartNo Gravatar August 15, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I so resonate with this. It is such a fine line we tread between healthy eating and treats – but not depriving the kids of treats so much that they sneak them.

Besides, family memories are what last and I love that this was the focus here.

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Exactly xx

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Megan LovellNo Gravatar August 16, 2012 at 6:53 am

Thanks for saying what a lot of us are feeling! I struggle with this a lot too. My kids are still young, (2 years and 9 months), but I hate the amount of sugar that is hidden in so many foods, which is why I try to stick to fruit, vegetables and multi grain breads as much as possible. I struggle because there are a few people in the kid’s lives who think daily treats, emphasis on the s in treats, are normal and appropriate. They don’t see these people everyday and I don’t want to sound like such a bossy mean parent, when I ask that the sweets intake please be limited. However then I think of the healthy foundation my husband and I are trying to create for our boys and how important it is to us, and the boys future health. So similar to you, we keep the food in our house healthy and allow for outside treats and surprises, probably more often than we would like.
On the show bags topic: My husband is from here and he has so many memories of the Ekka and show bags, especially a very funny memory of getting sick off all the candy he ate. I’m from Canada and so I don’t attach any past memories to show bags. That said, he doesn’t want to buy the boys bags, and I find the idea of them so new and interesting I do, lol. We settled on a non candy bag, full of Thomas themed items instead.
I’m a new follower to this blog, and I absolutely love it!

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

So interesting to hear your showbag story. I laughed. YOU HAVE to get an Aussie showbag!!

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SanstarNo Gravatar August 16, 2012 at 7:33 am

What you’ve said about diet really resonates with me too. I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and I try so hard to give them healthy food to eat, but they’re so young I’m struggling to get them to understand the difference between healthy food and “sometimes” (treat) food. Because when it isn’t a “sometimes” food they just don’t want to eat it. When they get the healthy food often, there seems to be no joy in eating it and they feel sad (because the “sometimes” food tastes so much better!). This causes a bit of resentment in my 3 year old who simply goes hungry when she doesn’t get the food she loves, and refuses to eat what I’ve lovingly made her. So your justifications I totally get!
I went for a couple of weeks giving them the things they love like fish fingers, jelly and chicken nuggets and I had happy, full kids. Go back to the veggie fritters, omelettes and risottos and I’m their worst enemy again! Ugh! Such a struggle huh?

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Yep, it is. But the good thing is, that I am starting to see, with my 11-year-old, that all the education and exposure IS starting to pay off, and I see her making good food choices on her own without my influence.

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FlutterbonNo Gravatar August 16, 2012 at 7:58 am

My son said, “I really don’t want a show bag full of junk. Can I please buy a leather pocket knife holder instead?” I bargined the people down to $15! So that he did ‘t have to buy junk. I bought my 9 year old one bag and my oldest got a bag that had no junk food. However it’s tradition for out family to buy a Bertie Beetle Bag – which we did!

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Good on him (and you!). I like it!

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NikiNo Gravatar August 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

As the mother of four. One now being a huge man child, ha, 16 year old. I am very confident in my decision to let the children enjoy that amazing feeling that Christmas goodies, Easter eggs & Show bags are. I am so focussed on their diet at home, with one who suffered servere excema until I worked out what flared it up. It was amongst other things, certain preservatives, colourings & flavourings in a lot of our “kids” food. I am not exaggerating when I say we all lived on hommus & carrot sticks as we worked it out by process of elimination. I take great pride in my kids health & fitness. I have 4 mad, sporty, energetic boys.
They truly don’t sit still for very long & are motivated by sports. If I say to my teenagers “I will ground you/take your computer/phone/etc away from them”, their care factor is zero, if I say I will take your weekend football/basketball/cricket/soccers games away, the freak out.
So what I guess I am saying, is the joy of “special” times & treats in childhood are what makes a lot their memories magical. As long as we provide healthy, nutritious food for the most part then the occasionally treat is exactly that- a treat.
I once read that if you put cookies, tiny teddies, sugary yohgurts etc in your kids lunchboxes EVERYDAY as their “treat”, it then stops being a treat and is in actual fact a habit. That really stuck with me.
Anyway great post, love the blog. Great on the running, Niki

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Kelly Be A Fun MumNo Gravatar August 18, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Hi Nikki

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your perspective. Thank you. x

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