Another Mealtime Misery
Enter, genius idea and a freebie to help you make it happen.
A Meal Planning Activity for Your Picky Eaters!
Picky Eating Preschooler – Inspiration for Creation
Little Bee, my former superstar eater, has recently thrown me a curve ball in opting to have particular preferences when it comes to what she will see on her plate. Once favorite meals have been met with an upturned nose and try as I may, she just won’t see my side of the pleading. Sound familiar?
Avoiding Mealtime Stress
She will eventually eat whatever is there because we run a tight ship of “that’s what’s for dinner” at my house as ice cream, her current request (morning, noon and night) is not one of the core offerings at Maison Jessica. I don’t force her to eat anything if she really doesn’t want to, because I come from a background of complex and negative thoughts around eating and don’t want the same for her. I encourage her as much as my patience can handle, to try a bite of everything, working the angles of: it’s good for you, it will help you grow, Mommy made it especially for you, and all the others I know you’ve tried too. I want her to appreciate meal time for the slow moments and colorful food, the conversation, shared time and increased responsibility and involvement in the family, not to create a scenario of stress in all of us and potentially disordered relationship with food (read more about an amazing documentary on what our young girls and boys face from media pressure here). But, I’m also not going to serve goldfish crackers for supper (every night). Those are for me, after everyone goes to bed. They pair with a Sauvignon Blanc beautifully. Just kidding… maybe.
Is Your Child Heading to Kindergarten soon?!
Looking over at that amazing child of yours, thinking of slipping the straps of a backpack far too big for their still tiny shoulders as you send them off to kindergarten for the first time, armed with the perfectly packed lunch and all the love in your heart; what a milestone!
Well, Mama. I can help you prepare for this amazing adventure.
In a FREE email course, I walk you through
the 5 MOST IMPORTANT steps to preparing your child for kindergarten.
Help for Dealing with Picky Eaters
Now I can’t promise I have the “perfect” solution, because kids are crazy hard to predict. I can’t promise that everyone will eat everything but I do find that having little ones involved in what they are eating is a HUGE help. When I was running the daycare, having everyone play a part in planning and creating the meal went a long way in having them eat it, even if it was normally not something they would try. Plus having tiny helpers in the kitchen makes for a really amazing learning experience. Which is where my amazing idea (and freebie for you) was born.
My first step was to get Little Bee more involved in making her meals, from start to finish. After doing a lot of research in how to best approach my new issue at mealtime I came to discover amazing benefits in having the kitchen be a place for hands on learning as well as supporting the issues I was having with my little sous chef.
20 Benefits of Having Children Help in the Kitchen
(click the links within the list for more great activities and freebies related to the topic!)
- creates a connection to varieties of foods
- increased vocabulary in talking about foods using descriptive language
- increased literacy and comprehension skills; reading and following directions
- using their senses in learning – so important (see post here)
- math and science experience in measuring and pouring, the reactions of ingredients mixing and changing (STEAM)
- increased imagination – using what they know to build upon and create new meal ideas and recipes
- learning life skills, cutting, sharing, sorting and of course cooking skills
- connections to healthy food and healthy body
- taking part in something the whole family benefits from
- learning responsibility as a member of the family (awesome post here)
- fine motor development
- hand eye coordination development
- wonderful connection with family time (shared cooking experience) creates an environment where conversations naturally occur.
- learning about meal planning, budgeting, buying and collection food and materials
- seeing the connection in processes (what starts as ingredients and efforts, ends up in a beautiful meal – cause and effect)
- increased self esteem through learning a new skill and developing it, so that everyone benefits
- sensory experience (lots of ideas to support that here)
- more likely to to eat what they have taken part in creating (even more so if taking part in choosing, growing, and cultivating the food)
- learning about where food comes from and how it can be used in different ways
- learning about family traditions in the kitchen
Bonus Benefit: It’s fun!! and encourages learning through play!
Mapping Out a Plan to Make This A Positive Experience for All of Us
I started to work with what I know. I know Little Bee is just like all her friends in that she loves to learn in as hands-on approach as possible. She loves to be involved and she loves to take part in decisions that impact everyone. She’s a take charge kinda gal, and so long as I support the charge she is taking, it’s all good with me.
Meal Planning Ahead While Inviting Learning Through Play
I built out an activity that can have us planning a few meals for the week and makes a big deal out of the whole experience from start to finish, plus takes a little weight off of my shoulders in coming up with another great idea. With the freebie I share with you, you can print out a Learning Passport and a few flags to get you started on your own journey to the end of mealtime misery.
Having your littles pick a flag out of an envelope or bowl, you can start the experience of learning a little bit more about the place of choice.
- YouTube is awesome for offering quick clips on what children in the country of choice spend their days doing, and most importantly to this outcome, eating. What foods grow locally there, and what amazing meals you can create by searching the web with a great inspiration (location) to get you started.
- Learn about Feasts Around the World here
- Learn about Schools Around the World here
- Learn about Sports Around the World here
- Learn about Transportation Around the World here
- Explore Thailand here
- Around the World Coloring Sheets
- Back to School Around the World
- Travelling to Japan
Of course there are endless activities that can be paired with this and I’ll build on them soon in another post, but for now, let’s focus on this one – you can download your own Learning Passport Activity by clicking the button below.
What We Use to Make Helping Easier and Safer for Children in the Kitchen
- We love having a safe and stable stool for Little Bee to climb up to counter height with. Something like this beautiful handmade stool that transitions into a seat and table is a wonderful multi-use item that will serve it’s purpose in many ways.
- In an effort to provide Little Bee with the tools she needs to contribute to the meal preparation but keeping her safety in mind, I found these amazing plastic knives which were designed with kids in mind. She is able to cut fruits and veggies with this colorful knife set that she knows is hers and they are safe for her to wash in the sink as well. Double win!
- We have a super cute Mommy + Me set of aprons that creates the stage for our cooking adventures. We also use them in the garden or if we are playing a game that requires matching dress up. It just add another special little layer to our kitchen fun!
- Learning to pour is an important part of the skills that are essential in the kitchen and this set is a great help in encouraging those skills.
The Reality of Having Kids Help in the Kitchen
Sure, it’s going to be messy, it’s going to take longer, you’re going to have to watch every move because it isn’t a traditional “place to play” but it’s so very worth all the benefits and more. Creating interests early lead to lifelong skills and lifelong interest in healthy eating and connection with family and self care. Start with what you know they can do; pour from a cup, stir with a spoon, use a butter knife to spread peanut butter on toast, and then build their skills from there as they watch and learn from you. Although it’s tricky to hand over the process now when they are so young, these are the stepping stones for increased responsibility and self confidence (read more about that here), those skills that are critical long after the moments of wiping up spilled flour on the kitchen floor.
I’d love to know what you think of the Learning Passport and what amazing recipes your family creates with the passport inspiration!
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