With kids doing virtual school from home, and families working remotely, there is a constant stream of cooking, snacking, dishes and cleaning. It is NEVER ENDING. (Or maybe my kids just snack more than most?!)
Since I work from home, I am often the first one called when a kiddo needs something. “MOM! Can you X? Can you Y? Can you Z?” By far, the number one reason my kids need me is FOOD. They are constantly hungry, and I am usually knee deep in the middle of something when they are most desperate for a snack. So. I did what anyone would do….I decided they should learn to feed themselves.
My kids are 6 and 9, so they are old enough to find plates and cups on their own. They can put bread in the toaster or a breakfast sandwich in the microwave. They can pour their own cereal…and sometimes milk. For the longest time I have helped them with even the smallest of food tasks because it’s easier than teaching them to do it themselves AND less likely to create a gigantic mess. But this year my kids have started making their very own snacks and breakfasts and often their very own lunches and it is GAME CHANGING.
Here are a few ideas to help you pass the food game onto your kids and take it off your plate! (Ha – see what I did there?!)
- Make a snack cupboard or space if your refrigerator that kids can access on their own. Fill it with whatever you hope they eat – fruits, veggies, yogurt, raisins, bagels, popcorn, cheese sticks, applesauce. If they can open it themselves and eat it without complaining, it’s a win for everyone! We are fairly loose on the number of snacks we let the kids eat, but a bit stricter on what they eat. They know they can go anytime and grab an apple to eat, and that makes things much, much easier around here.
- Breakfast is a snap. I’m all about the easiest possible breakfast options. We bowls of cereal, yogurt, fruit, toast, frozen waffles, bagels, instant oatmeal. These are ALL things my kids (even my 6 year old!) can make independently. This past year they’ve both learned how to operate our microwave and our toaster! They are also learning to use the stove (scrambled eggs is my next lofty ambition for them) but at the moment that is not something I would let them do without supervision. So, 99% of the time we stick to the simples.
- Teach them simple meals they can make themselves. Start small – let them make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, or crackers and a scoop of hummus. Show them how to open jars/lids and how to put them back away. It is SO worth the investment of your time to teach your kids how to do these things themselves, and there is no better feeling than your 9 year old saying “Mom, is it ok if I make myself a sandwich?” Yes. Yes it is.
- Let them pack their own snacks and/or water bottles. Whenever we take a walk or go outside of the house, one of them is always hungry or thirsty. I’ve started prompting them to fill up a water bottle before we head to the park, or grab a quick snack to take if we’re going to be gone awhile. It takes one small thing off my list as we’re trying to get out the door, and it helps them learn to be responsible, too.
- For some great simple meal ideas (for YOU to make), check out locally owned Yummy Sprout, which is owned and operated by a mom of 2. She teaches healthy, simple snack and meal options, and also teaches cooking classes to kids. Here’s a list of her simple snack ideas.
There you have it! My trick to making simple snacks and meals is to…NOT! I let my kids help out as much as possible and we are all able to do our part while home together. I wish you luck as we all continue navigating Covid-life, and I hope these suggestions help simplify your routine.