You know there are more important things to worry about right now. And yet you can’t help but cringe when your kids dig into yet another bowl of boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch–or feel guilty that they’ve eaten more homemade cookies than fresh vegetables lately.
This crisis is affecting every aspect of our lives, including how we eat. Your family may be relying on more convenience foods and have less access to fresh food. You may be falling back on familiar comfort foods instead of trying new recipes. And your kids may have microwavable chicken nuggets on repeat.
It’s natural to wonder if your child’s eating habits are going to permanently suffer–or to feel like you’re falling down on the job when it comes to keeping them well-nourished. Instead of beating yourself up, do this:
Give your kids (and yourself) some grace.
This is a time of unprecedented stress, and everyone (including kids) are feeling it. Comfort food brings us comfort, and so do familiar foods and flavors.
Remember that this is temporary.
We don’t know how long this will last, but it won’t be forever. When grocery shopping becomes easier and stress eases up, there will be plenty of time to serve a larger variety of foods and revert back to your usual habits.
Do your best.
Eating fruits and vegetables is important for health. But remember that frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh–and that there will be days when lots of fruits and veggies just aren’t happening. (When I’m feeling like my kids need an infusion of produce, I whirl whatever frozen fruit we have with some milk and yogurt and make smoothies to serve with dinner.)
Feel good about family meals.
With no sports practices, school events, or late nights at work, you can be together for more family meals. Sure, there will be days when that together-time feels like too much, but family meals have so many benefits for kids–physically, socially, and emotionally, especially right now when your kids may be feeling unsure, stressed, and sad.
Hold home-ec class.
I’m using the extra time to get my two (admittedly kitchen-averse) kids to cook and bake with me more often. I consider it the “home-ec” portion of their distance learning, and I love seeing them build skills around reading recipes, using knives, and making simple meals. There’s no rush to get dinner ready by a certain time and no worries about creating extra messes (we’ve got the time to clean them up!).
If you’re working from home, no doubt your kids will be fending for themselves more than usual, including prepping some of their own meals and snacks and making more food decisions on their own. Sure, you won’t necessarily love all of those decisions. But it’s an important part of becoming more independent and an opportunity for them to learn–even if their meals are a little heavy on the microwavable chicken-nuggets right now!