So what is your mom thing? We all have things that we do in motherhood that define our child rearing ways. Typically we have a dominant practice that is a deal breaker in our parenting.
I have a friend whose deal breaker is car seat safety. She knows all the guidelines and has the best car seats. Her kids never wear bulky winter coats while strapped into a car seat and they are rear-facing up to all the British and American standards.
I am in awe of this dedication. The exercise of getting my three kids in and out of car-seats, often keeps us home-bound. I depend on my preschooler to buckle in by herself. We almost definitely moved into boosters too soon, and I kept my youngest in his infant carrier long past normal because I liked the convenience of carrying that bucket into a store.
I have a family member whose thing is germs, or rather the avoidance of germs. They keep economy size hand sanitizer bottles within a ten foot radius at all times. Their kids will never know the joy of a fast food restaurant’s play area. Meanwhile the suggestion of sharing drink cups is met with a cold, dead stare.
If your mom thing is keeping the landfills free of disposable diapers by going with cloth, then you deserve a special yoga mat in Heaven.
While some people take a hard line on screen time, my thing is balanced, healthy eating for my family. I cringe inside if my kids do not have a fruit or vegetable (or both) on their plate for every meal. The hardest part about public school, for me, was succumbing my child to a lunch program that I did not mandate. (I could ease this frustration by supplementing her with a cold lunch, but ain’t nobody got time for that!)
I want plates full of color at dinner time and I also want snacks to be a fruit or protein. I never send my daughter to school with teddy grahams or cheese crackers. My kids have been introduced to egg plant, snap peas, Brussels sprouts, sour kraut and dragon fruit.
It is more about being a well-rounded eater, than being a health nut. We still order pizza and eat ice cream. I honestly just want my kids (on the whole) to like a variety of foods and eat nutritionally the vast majority of the time. (If they also grow up to be Rhodes Scholars, that is an additional bonus.) If they ultimately become picky eaters, I will feel like a failure.
This is hypocritical because I was a picky eater. My mom is a phenomenal cook, and even better baker. Which meant our meals were always pretty heavy on the carbohydrates. Garlic bread and/or mashed potatoes got served a lot. We ate salads, but I drowned them in Ranch dressing. I ate steak with ketchup! Why was I constantly trying to torture my taste buds into blandness?
Digestive bowel problems haunted me as an adolescent into college, basically because I was severely lacking in the fiber department. Also to be fair, 25 years ago the produce aisles at the grocery store did not have much variety. Consumers now have the luxury of buying berries and kiwi all year round.
How did I turn around my tasteless existence? Enter my husband. He will try anything and likes everything. He introduced me to sushi and jalapenos. (Who knew spicy was a good thing!) My in-laws showed me that seafood did not have to be fried to be enjoyed. Basically my marriage was the first step in my picky eating rehab.
The second step came during my child bearing years. I was pregnant with my oldest and enjoying the good life of pancake snacks and milkshake appetizers. Then I got slapped with a gestational diabetes diagnoses. I cried, I sulked and I worried about going hungry. Then I went to a diabetic counselor. She explained what was adequate to eat and what was not. Turns out the whole treatment plan centered around good food choices and testing my blood sugar.
The first two weeks were hard. I had to change my whole mind-set of eating. Me, the girl who loved bagels and should have owned stock in Panera Bread. However, after a few weeks I actually felt better. I started having normal bowel movements and trying new things at restaurants. My pregnancy weight stayed healthy and I delivered an absolutely perfect baby girl.
By association my husband also started eating healthier. His big conflict had been portion control, and my obsession with having a bread basket out at every meal. Since I cooked the majority of the meals and did all of the grocery shopping, he ate what I ate. Which was great post-gestational diabetes, but had been a hang-up pre-gestational diabetes.
The diabetic eating plan had us both feeling so great we just kept eating that way. We learned to make awesome chef salads, while getting used to thin crust pizzas and open face sandwiches. Pride in making sure my kids ate the same way we did became a priority. We made our own baby food and never introduced juice. One helpful resource for us was the book Choose Your Foods: Food Lists for Weight Management.
Does my “mom thing” always work? Of course not. Do I always get to enforce it? Definitely no. I want my kids to have friends and get invited to birthday parties. So I never set strict meal guidelines while they are guests in another person’s home. If you are nice enough to host my kids for the afternoon, you have earned the right to serve them whatever you want. My main concern is that they eat what you serve and be polite. If they ever utter the words “I don’t eat that” or “I don’t like this”, I will feel miserable.
So yes, at our house we never eat cheese-only pizza, and if we dine on chicken nuggets for supper, they are typically served with honeydew melon and a kale salad. The good thing about having a “mom thing” is that it is unique to each mother. I recognize and respect that my mom thing is not everyone’s mom thing. (However, please make sure my kids eat their carrot sticks before their Oreos at lunch.)