“Do I have to have mashed potatoes? What about stuffing? I really don’t like stuffing.” The morning before our Thanksgiving dinner, my twelve-year-old daughter was pre-planning her plate. She was ready to negotiate what had to be on her plate and what could be left off. I replied “No, you don’t have to have those, but if you don’t, then what are you going to eat besides turkey?”. Without hesitation, she said “Yams! I love yams!”
I bring up this story for two reasons. The first is that it gave me an opportunity to talk about food choices with my daughter. As parents one of our major responsibilities is feeding our children. This can be a huge challenge if you have a picky eater or if it’s late, after a long day of work and you need to get something edible on the table. In any scenario, for the most part, it is the parent placing food in front of the child. This can make the child feel like they don’t have much of a choice in what they eat. Then when they are in a situation where they do get to choose, they fill their plate with only the things they like. (This likely means there is not a vegetable in sight.) No matter what, this is a great conversation to have with them before you get to dinner. You can to discuss portions and food selection and it will give your child the autonomy to make their own choices and feel like a “big kid” in an adult situation.
We can also learn something else by looking at our child’s plate. When given the freedom to choose, they only take things they want to eat. Adults love to say “I have so much on my plate” (which we all know has nothing to do with food). What if we only filled our “plate” with the things that we really liked? What if we didn’t put things on our plate out of obligation or because we were afraid that someone’s feelings were going to get hurt if we didn’t? Most likely we’d have to take some things off of the plate, which might mean saying “no”, but wouldn’t it be so much fun to have a plate filled with things you were excited about? Wouldn’t it be great to pre-plan your daily plate knowing you were going to leave the mashed potatoes behind so you could have more room for yams? Does the thought of taking things off your plate cause you to break out into a cold sweat? Let’s start with this - what is something you love to do that you never have time for? Start small. It doesn’t have to be a major project that will take hours to complete. Maybe it is talking to an old friend or sending a card to let someone know you are thinking of them or maybe it is a random act of kindness. This week I want you to clear some room on your plate so that you have the time to do something you really enjoy doing. We spend the holidays filling ourselves up with wonderful food, why not also fill ourselves up with the activities that we love to do?
The holidays are here! Are you feeling like there is no way to make room on your plate? Let’s set up time to talk. Direct message or email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up time this week to get you ready for whatever might come your way.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.