Friday, July 25, 2008

Relaxing the Standards

Many people say that they were a lot less strict after their first child. Subsequent children come along, and either you are too exhausted to keep up the pace of every thing they put in their mouths and every move they make, or perhaps you just feel a bit more comfortable and at ease with the whole parenting thing. Maybe you realize that you were a bit overprotective with the first one, and so you want to cut the next kid some slack. Whatever the reason, it seems to be a common thread with many parents I have known. Including myself.

Two years ago, my twins had only tasted sugar a handful of times. I was fierce about their nutrition. I made probably 90% of their baby food, including grinding whole grains to make their cereal. I made absolutely sure that they got lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, calcium, protein, and vitamins. They drank only water or milk, unless they had constipation (which was rare, due to the intake of the aforementioned produce).

Fast forward to last year, and it was a different story. I still made sure they got their recommended fruits and veggies. They still ate very balanced meals with very little junk food. But they got to taste popsicles for the first time last summer. They ate some ice cream. They are no strangers to chips, cookies, or fruit snacks. And when they are visiting the grandparents...forget about it. Spoiled with foods I would normally not allow. And I'm OK with that. As long as they are eating mostly healthy stuff at home, then I can turn a blind eye to the sugar/salt/fat consumption they get at Mamaw & Papaw's house.

I used to get upset with Chris when he did not feed them a vegetable and fruit with every meal (well, they don't always get veggies with breakfast). When I was gone for any reason, I had to know exactly what they ate when I got home. Then sometimes there would be a lecture about how I would like for them to have X food; please don't forget to give them their vitamins; please don't give them this or get the idea.

When I got pregnant with Blake, everything changed. The entire household ate a LOT more bad food. And I was NOT into cooking while pregnant. So there were a lot more convenience foods around. And snacky foods. And, well, plain old junk food.

I am gradually trying to phase back in mostly healthy foods. I am once again limiting the sugar and salt intake and trying to get back to more scratch cooking and whole unprocessed foods. But there are days when I just throw all of my ideals out the window and feed them popcorn for breakfast. Or give them peanut butter and jelly for lunch for the 3rd day in a row. I still usually ask what they ate when someone else watches them, but only so I can decide whether or not to give them something different for dinner. I figure, as long as they don't go hungry and I'm not the one who had to cook/feed the meal, then so be it.

Luckily I have really good eaters (so far anyway - I'm not sure how Blake will turn out), and I try to maintain the 80/20 rule. If I can get at least 80% good stuff into them on a regular basis, then I won't worry about the 20% that is questionable (or downright BAD for them). And hopefully if I continue to offer them healthy foods, then they will just continue to enjoy them.

The other night I was eating a frozen fruit bar (grape - yummy), and I put the corner of it into Blake's mouth to see how he would react. At first he made a sour face, but then tasted it again and seemed to appreciate the tangy/sweet deliciousness. Or maybe he just like the coldness on his sore gums. I laughed and told Chris how I never in a million years would have done that with the big boys. I plan on really trying to make his first year (and beyond) as healthy as it was for the big boys, but I also know that I'm not as strict about things as I once was.

What about you, dear readers? I would love to hear your comparison stories about how your standards (or behavior) have changed from your firstborn to the next ones down the line.

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