Motherhood, along with everything in life, has a learning curve. Most recently, I have learned that I am the one creating most of my work, not my littles. Say what? Why on earth would I do that? And how am I doing it? Through doing too much for them. At four and almost seven, I am preventing them from blossoming into the little people God has created them to be. They are no longer babies or toddlers. (sniff, sniff) They are little boys. (This is where they would correct me and say, "big boys, Mom!" If this is true, there is no reason I should be hopping up every time I hear, "Mommy. Mommy! Mommy?" In fact just the other day, my oldest asked me to get his blanket for him because he was too tired. Really? Really? Oh gosh, not only have I stunted a bit of their independence, but I've also created a monster (or two). If they can play outside on their own, getting every toy they need to entertain themselves, why can't they pick their clothes up off the floor and get their own snacks?
Gloves off, learning curve attained, time to get down to business and bring my monsters into reality. And me along with them. I'm starting small... before moving onto another activity, they pick up and put away whatever they were playing with beforehand. (I know! Seems elementary. Grace hommies. I'm far from perfect.) Dishes, even for my four year old, are put into the sink when they are finished eating. At the end of the day, we clean up the backyard before coming in for the night.
Most recently, I began tackling snacks. This is a BIG one for us. My littles are like cows...they graze all day long. When I had more control of their schedules, I would feed them 3 meals and 2 snacks a day at certain times. As they've gotten older, our eating times have become less regimented - besides dinner. Plus, they're hungry at different times. I have one that loves breakfast and another that could care less and just prefers a snack around 9:30. This left me jumping up and down like a jack-in-the-box to get them their snacks throughout the day. So I've decided they are officially old enough to grab their own snacks, once they've asked for permission. I created two semi-healthy food stations for them. One refrigerated. One dry goods.
In the refrigerator, they have their own snack station containing: cheese, fruit, carrots, yogurt tubes, applesauce and water. When I come home from the grocery, I immediately clean and prep the fruit and carrots. Every time I unload the dishwasher, their water bottles get filled with water and put in the fridge (they each get one bottle a day that gets refilled as the day goes on.) Throughout the week I restock their goodies.
In the pantry, they have another snack station containing: pretzels, goldfish, craisins, and animal crackers or graham crackers. This station gets refilled throughout the week as well, but I'm super happy to report that the cold station is the most frequently re-stocked!
I can not tell you how liberating this has been. They ask, they help themselves and we all gain a bit more independence. And they get an extra dose of self-confidence. Bonus: This has freed me up to set up more fun activities for them to do as well. This is super beneficial, as my littles - especially my youngest - have the attention spans of a gnats. Most recently, I found the ABC car maze/track on Pinterest. So fun - for at least a good 5-10 minutes!
Can you all join me in singing the hallelujah chorus? Seriously, I think the heavens have opened a bit regarding this snack revolution of ours. And I for one am grateful. xo