How I’m Learning to Deal with Picky Eaters

I have a confession to make. Last week alone, I fed my kid “chik’n” nuggets, grilled cheese and quesadillas … and I’m okay with it.

I never intended to buy frozen food, heat it up and serve it on a regular basis. I know my mom never did that (did you, mom? Because the only thing I’m pretty sure you bought frozen was tortellini, but you made it with your homemade sauce so that doesn’t count, right?) … and before kids, our dinners consisted of grilled meats and fishes, healthy grains, homemade sauces and dressings, salads and even homemade bread. So what happened?

how to deal with a picky eater toddler

I have a picky eater. My (almost) 3-year-old doesn’t like vegetables. Not even the so-called “kid-friendly” vegetables like broccoli or carrots (yes, people have told me that these are the veggies kids like). He doesn’t even really like pizza!

So how are we surviving? Here’s how I’ve learned to live with it:

  • Stop comparing and beating myself up. Before having kids, I’d heard people say that if you feed kids what you eat then they’ll have to eat it. Let’s just say that that’s not the case. That’s what we’ve tried to do, but my son is perfectly happy not eating dinner. If we’re eating something he doesn’t like, he’s happy going to bed without eating and then waking up at 3 a.m. starving. For his well-being (and attempt not to wake up at 3 a.m.), I prefer that not be the case.
  • Never give up. Just because he doesn’t like something the first time (or the 5th time), doesn’t mean he always won’t like it. And, the more he sees us eating different foods, the more likely he is to try them. You can imagine my astonishment when one day he reached for a drumstick off my husband’s plate and took a bite. And now “chicken on the bone” (as he calls it) is something he loves.
  • Find a food your kid loves and sneak the good stuff in it. My son loves muffins. We call him the muffin man. So you’d better bet that we’ve made spinach muffins, lentil muffins, zucchini cauliflower muffins, etc. Is he eating spinach or lentils or zucchini on a regular basis? Not by itself, but definitely in a muffin. And, after he’s eaten the muffins, I do tell him what is in there. His favorite muffin is a banana, zucchini, lentil, chocolate chip muffin.
  • Make mealtime fun. The last thing I want is to make dinner stressful. So maybe we’ll put the peas on his plate in the shape of a letter C. Or maybe the roasted carrots will be standing up. OR, maybe I’ll hide a gummy fruit snack under a few pieces of vegetables for him to find. And if he doesn’t eat them, he doesn’t eat them – but at least they make him smile.

Do you have any tips for fellow moms of picky eaters?

Note: This post originally appeared on my page on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website. I blog for them on occasion- see what else I have to say there!

Partying the Weekend Away (Family-Friendly Style)

We had a jam packed, fun weekend in CLE. The weather finally turned nice (on one day), and it included a birthday party, Indians game, some running, some working on the house and a Derby party. Man, I think I need another weekend just to recover from our fun – I’m feeling pooped!

Friday started with a LONG run – I got up at 4 a.m. and got in 11.23 mi before the kids woke up and it was time to get ready for school and work. Cleveland half marathon race day is just two weeks away!

Work flew by Friday. It was a busy day and I got pulled last minute into a 2 hour meeting, which made my morning fly by. And my coworker brought her dog in – look how cute he is!

 

We ended the day with BBQ for dinner – I forgot to take a pic of the food, but we all (even LM) got in on the fun 🙂

Saturday was by far our busiest day. It included some indoor playtime while it rained in the morning.

And an Indians game – they won!

Also, a birthday party for our neighbor – they now have a 1 year old! Their baby is actually in LM’s class at school, too.

And a Kentucky Derby party. This hat stayed on for about 30 seconds.

Sunday included some work around the house – we got a delivery of dirt so we can finally start our garden soon!

And a stroller run with FW. I got in 5+ miles, which I think ism longest stroller run ever. He fell asleep around 3-4 miles in, so I was able to go a little longer than usual.

FW and I also made some spinach zucchini banana muffins. They’re not as sweet as the muffins I’ve been making, but I hope they’ll get him to eat some more veggies!

We ended the day with a Cinco De Mayo themed dinner … that i forgot to get a picture of. Oh well – I assure you it was delicious 🙂 And instead I’ll leave you with a picture of a taco I had on Thursday.

  • How was your weekend?
  • Did you do anything for Cinco de Mayo?

Feeling Like Myself – Date Night, Racing, Kid Time and More

I have to say, I had a great weekend. It included everything I love – family time, running, good food AND a date night. And, it made me really feel like myself again!

Friday, schools were closed, so I stayed home most of the day with the kids. It was rainy, so once again we entertained ourselves indoors.Saturday started bright and early. I had signed up for a ten mile race, which fit perfectly into my training schedule, and B, FW and LM dropped me off at the start and cheered me on along the way.It was actually a great race! Even though it was 40 and super windy, I still managed a PR and ran much faster than I expected.The afternoon included a trip to the West Side Market, coffee shops, some donuts and hanging out.That night, B and I had plans to celebrate our anniversary with a night out!We started the night with drinks at Bar 32, which has a great super high view of downtown.And then, we got dinner. We enjoyed some oysters, fish and split a lobster roll.

Sunday morning, we slept in (!!) and then it was time to take FW to a birthday party. He had a blast running around and playing with his classmates.

I have to say, it was a really, really good weekend. Getting to spend a night out with B was amazing. I felt like myself again. Enjoying a not-rushed, no meltdown dinner, grabbing drinks and not waking up early was amazing. AND getting in a 10 mile run by myself? Those combined were great and reminded me that I’m so much more than a mom.  I felt guilty at first, but had to remember to turn the mom-guilty off and remind myself that spending 5 hours (approximately how many hours of their waking time) away from my kids was a GOOD thing for all. Plus, we got in plenty of other quality time with our day off and the birthday party.

And now, I can’t wait until we can do it again!

Some questions for you:

  • Any races this weekend?
  • What do you do that makes you feel like YOU?

Time to Give Moms a Break

The past few months have not been easy. I had the longest cold known to man (okay, I’m exaggerating, but it lasted about four weeks). My 9-month-old daughter had a cold that turned into three back-to-back ear infections, followed by hand-foot-and-mouth disease, followed by impetigo and currently has a cough that just won’t go away. My son vomited all over our kitchen rug and then, the next week, fell off a table and split his lip open, and then also came down with hand, foot and mouth. I had an eye infection, followed by conjunctivitis. Our kitchen sink clogged up, a pipe burst at our house, we found out we need a new water heater, a new roof and my car completely died.

Easy problems? For sure. Could it be worse? Definitely. But like most moms, I’m tired. And like most moms, I mean it: I recently read that new parents face sleep deprivation for 6 years after a baby is born, and moms do more so than dads.

So, what can we do? Let’s stop scrolling through Instagram and judging one another. Let’s give one another a break.

The new mom you know? Bring her diapers and easy-to-eat snacks one day. It can be easy to forget to eat some of those early days.

That mom you know in your office who is constantly leaving early/coming in late due to family commitments but emailing at midnight? Cut her some slack and maybe see if you can take something off her plate.

The mom you know who is having a hard time? Buy her a coffee, and maybe bring her a pack of tissues on one of those days she may be feeling extra emotional/hormonal.

The single mom you know or mom whose partner is never around? Offer to watch her kids one day. Even if it’s just for an hour so she can shower in peace or grab a solo bite to eat.

The mom you know who seems to have it all together? She probably doesn’t. Check in on her — send her a text message and let her know you’re thinking about her. Sometimes that’s all someone needs to hear.

We’re all busy. We’re all tired. So let’s lift one another up. It’s the only way we’re all going to survive — and thrive — as moms.

This post originally appeared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website.  I occasionally guest blog there – you should check them out!

A Rainy Easter in CLE

We had a rainy weekend in Cleveland – it rained pretty much nonstop from Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening. It made for a flooding backyard, some indoor runs and a REALLY early wakeup on Thursday to run before the monsoon started. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a little snapshot of our Easter in CLE.

Friday, schools were closed for Good Friday, so I worked from home while watching the kids. (Meaning, I got up and worked, entertained them, worked while they were napping, did more entertaining, and then worked again at night) BUT because of the aforementioned rainy weather, we were stuck inside for pretty much the entire day. Thank goodness for play-doh and art projects!

Saturday brought MORE rain. So, we spent the morning inside doing some spring cleaning – FW even helped out!

I popped on the treadmill for a few miles, and then after naps, we headed to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to color eggs. FW had a blast dumping them in the dye.

We stayed there later than we intended to and all of a sudden it was dinnertime. Thank goodness for Aladdin’s takeout – it satisfied everyone in our house, even FW (the picky eater) and LM (who loved my hummus, beans, peas and rice!).

Sunday was Easter morning! We started with an Easter egg hunt for FW and LM.

Then, after Mass, it was time for Easter. We ended up spending all day with B’s family and FW and LM got to play with their cousins.

Look at that big table!

After Easter, we did finally get outside to enjoy the finally nice weather. It had stopped raining, leaving us with a gorgeous afternoon!

Some questions for you-

  • What was in your Easter basket growing up?
  • What’s your favorite holiday from a food standpoint?

Weekends with Family

I love weekends with family! And this weekend was one of those weekends, as my parents were able to come into town to visit. The last time they were in Cleveland was October, so it had been some time!Friday afternoon coincidentally was a grandparents’ event at FW’s school, so they got to see him in his element as he performed a song and then they watched a puppet show.And then Friday night included pizza from our favorite local place – Marottas! They had been closed for renovations, but they reopened about a week ago. So yes, this was our second week of pizza pickup from them. I love roasted garlic on the pizza!Saturday morning, the whole family walk to breakfast at Luna. Their almons croissants are amazing.Followed by a little time on the playground. The weather was perfect!In the afternoon, we celebrated our friend June’s first birthday. She had a kindermusik class, and both LM and FW had a blast!

Sunday morning came too quickly. After some bagels, my parents were on the road again and it was time to say goodbye.

As they drove back, we had a relatively low key day. We did not get in any of our usual weekend chores – no grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, etc. Instead, I caught up on work and then got outside for a run.

That night, we celebrated B’s sister Mary’s birthday. That ends what seems like a month of birthday celebrations for B’s family! FW will be disappointed not to sing Happy Birthday at next week’s dinner.

Questions for you:

  • How do you handle grocery shopping? Do you go once a week or when you need to something?
  • What’s your go-to bagel?

We Traveled More than 8 Hours In the Car With 2 Kids and Lived to Tell About It

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go … Whoever wrote that idyllic song probably wasn’t traveling with two kids under the age of three during the holidays. Because just a few months ago, we packed up the car, put the kids in their car seats, and drove the 7+ hours to Nonna and Grandpa’s house for the holidays. And let me tell you, it was anything but idyllic. Babies were screaming, naps were missed, toddlers were crying “I wanna get out!” and that was only in the first hour. But we survived and here are some tips we learned along the way:

Don’t Expect it to be the Same as a Pre-Kid Trip

Before we went on our first road trip with my now toddler, I asked one of my friends if she had any tips. She replied, “Expect it to be awful and throw all your fond road trip memories out the window.” Is that harsh? Yes. But it makes a point. Long trips with two young kids are not easy. They’re not relaxing. But they don’t have to be awful; just manage your epectations and be prepared (see below).

B and I in Vietnam – traveling BEFORE kids

Pack Enough Toys/Activities/Games

Toddlers and infants are not made to sit in one place for eight hours. (But really, who is?) That means an eight hour car trip can be anything but fun for them, which means it’s not fun for you. So bring activities to distract them. Here’s a rule of thumb I like to follow: bring at least one new toy or activity per hour of your car trip. So for a six hour car ride, here are some of the things we bring for the toddler:

  1. Coloring book/paper and washable crayons
  2. Matchbox cars
  3. Paint-with-water activity book – we like the Melissa & Doug Water Wow! books
  4. CDs – we like to go to our local library before a trip and pick out kid-friendly CDs to listen to. Our toddler gets a kick out of picking them out and then choosing them during the car trip.
  5. Books – I like to bring 3-4 and let my toddler pick out 1-2 himself. This one, Let’s Play, is a good one that is interactive. 
  6. Post-it notes – they can stick them places and then you can clean up easily. They can color on them with aforementioned crayons. They can stick them together to make shapes.

For the baby, we brought things like baby books, rattles, blankets, and toys that lit up and made noise.

Bring Snacks

Bring plenty of snacks and food for the trip. In addition to meals, plan easy-to-eat and less-mess snacks for the car or any stops. Bonus points if the snacks are new or not part of your usual repertoire. Some of our favorites include Annie’s fruit snacks, pouches, yogurt covered raisins, Annie’s cheddar bunnies, Barbara’s Puffins cereal, grapes, sliced pear, grilled cheese cut up into fun shapes.

Be Flexible

Don’t go into the car trip with a rigid plan. Will you sit in the front or in the back with the kids? Be prepared to do either. Will you stop exactly two times for one hour each and make it to your final destination in exactly nine hours? Maybe not (what if the baby has a blowout after your 2nd stop?). Will your kids nap at their usual naptime? Possibly. It’s okay (and probably a good idea) to make a plan before you get into the car, but just be prepared to throw it out the window or adapt if needed.  

Plan Stops

If you don’t have a hard timeline (see above tip: be flexible), plan a few fun stops along the way. For an eight-hour car trip, it’s nice to plan one or two stops where our toddler can run around and use up some energy. For us, this has meant finding a park that is not far off the route (bonus points if there’s a playground) and near some kid-friendly restaurants so that we can stop, grab a bite to eat and then run around and play. Yes, this takes time, but it makes the trip much more fun for our toddler.

Leave at Night or Around Naptime

We have only done this once and it was the best. After about one hour of crying and whining, the kids slept for almost the whole ride. Getting them back to bed once we got to our final destination wasn’t easy, but it made for a quiet and hassle-free car ride.

Have a Secret Weapon (or Two)

Sometimes all the toys, snacks and stops are not enough. That’s when it’s time for your secret weapon. For our baby, this can mean a few extra toys that light up or play music. For the toddler, this means toys that aren’t used on a regular basis, such as his toy laptop and my iPad with Sesame Street or other kids’ TV downloaded on it. We don’t always have to bring these out, but they have definitely helped make the trips easier.

Questions for you:

  • What’s the longest you’ve ever traveled in the car with kids?
  • What age do you find easiest to travel with kids?

Note-  this post contains a few affiliate links. And aversion of this post originally appeared on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website.