NB: This post was originally authored by me and published on on bellanaija.com, a lifestyle blogging site.
Before I jump right into this, can I just say that every woman who runs a home is a Domestic Queen. While I mostly use this term for “stay-at-home moms,” especially moms who gave up a career temporarily or otherwise to stay at home on account of her kids, this table is definitely big enough and everyone can sit with us. Aijay, my friend and accountability partner who works in a bank and always reads my BellaNaija features accuses me of leaving other moms out so here I am extending an invitation.
This post is for all moms, present and future, though we must agree that stay-at-home moms have a bit more time to devote to the home front than other moms who work outside the home.
The invitation still stands, though, so dear Queen, the learning never stops.
In recent times, I have realized that being a student at home, both of my husband and my kids, is key to the effective running of my kingdom – the home front. At the risk of offending some, I will share in a later post how to be a student of your king, but for today, let’s talk about how to be a student of those little princes and princesses trying to take over the kingdom.
Due to the broad nature of this topic, I would be zooming in on your kid’s diet.
The average kid, when it comes to food, is neophobic, and has a sweet tooth.
Neophobic means that they have a fear of trying new things, especially when they are toddlers. It amazes me how kids are predisposed to developing a love for sweets and a dislike for healthy and more nutritious foods.
My first son typically has this reaction to any new thing set before him.
Him: Mommy what is this?
Me: It is called fried coconut rice (humor me).
Him: Mommy, I don’t want (and without even tasting it).
It always makes me laugh. Now compare that with this scenario where we are passing by a row of brightly colored sweets (even if it is cucumbers wrapped like candy).
Him: Mommy, please I want that.
Me: What is that?
Him: I don’t know but I want it.
What this means is that as a queen, you must constantly be about your wits when it comes to ensuring that your kids enjoy a balanced diet despite resistance, instead of giving in to feeding them cereals and sweets daily and terming them ‘picky eaters.’
Oh, while we are here, in that WhatsApp group that most kids are in, cereal is their best food.
It is interesting how a little difference in packaging, presentation and/or preparation can make a previous picky eater suddenly become a food lover.
Various moms have shared their stories with me and I am happy to share a few, starting with mine.
Feeding my son swallow used to be a nightmare. He would stuff it all in his mouth and then spit it all out when it gets too full. If you force him, he will end up throwing up. It then came to me to try a different type of swallow. I had been giving him semo or eba, so I started giving him plantain swallow and amala. He took gladly to it. I also soon realized he didn’t like vegetable soup or egusi but preferred okro and ewedu. I had to study him closely to discover that.
A mom shared the story of how her kids basically rejected everything and since she didn’t have the energy to struggle, she resorted to feeding them junk most times which they easily took to. Then one day it came to her to change their plates and utensils to brightly colored ones, and like magic, feeding time became fascinating and they started to eat more and better. Advertisers know these tricks all too well. They have studied a wide range of children and so appeal to them with colors and the likes.
Another mom shared how changing her baby’s water bottle to a different kind got her baby drinking more water. Something that was both a chore and challenge before then. It is interesting what we discover when we take the time to actually look very closely at, that is study, these kids. She noticed the child’s frustration at trying to get water out of that bottle and so decided to stop altogether. Once a new bottle came and the child saw it flowing better, she drank more.
So, you offered your kid a smoothie and he refused. Please do not stop. Instead, continue to try out different combinations from our wide array of fruits. My son used to reject smoothies sometimes and soon I realized he did that only when the pineapple was overshadowing the rest of the fruits and forming a froth on top. He didn’t hate pineapples, he just hated the froth. So I changed the portions and he took to the smoothies again.
Oh, I have also seen a mom change the feeding narrative at home by mainly involving him in the cooking process and actually having him do some age-appropriate tasks, even if it is just to throw the seasoning cubes in. Knowing that he was a part of making this food made him more excited to eat his “hard work.” She just may be raising a choleric child so close study of him made her start doing that.
Oh, timings may be a factor too. You may have a child who hates to be rushed or would rather not eat a lot in the mornings. If you try to rush that child or feed her a heavy breakfast, they will resist and you will say they are picky. No, they are not, you just need to be a better student of your child.
I have shared a wide range of examples but I am very aware that for some, everything I have said above cannot work for you. That is because this list is not exhaustive and you have a unique child. However, paying that child close mind will soon show you the little changes you can make to see a big difference in their eating habits. If you have more “student success stories,” please share in the comments.
So dear Domestic Queen, welcome to school. A school at home.