One of the best things about blogging is meeting other bloggers, particularly when you find one that is as twisted as you are due to similar life experiences. Today my new friend Leigh from Eat Clean, Live Dirty is guest posting about one of my favorite topics: snacks at activities. I encourage you to read her post and visit her site because she is, well, hilarious and informative. I’m only a little guilty of being jealous of her, but we’ll save that for another post. Enjoy, and don’t forget, it’s Friday so time to free yourself of any parenting guilt!
Spring has sprung. The flowers are in bloom. And Little League is in full gear all across this great land. You know, baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet.
I can handle games and practices three times a week. I can put a smile on my face while getting soaking wet cheering on my son’s baseball team (I live in Portland, after all). I can even have dinner prepared and on the table at 4:45 in order to make the 5:30 games (most days). Early Bird Special!
What gives me the most angst about baseball season (or any other organized sporting activity in which my kids participate) are the snacks. The gosh. darn. snacks. Apple pie, Little Debbie style.
My four-year-old twins (2 of my 3 Dirties) played basketball for the first time this winter. I was thrilled they were finally old enough to join a sports team after sitting on the sidelines watching their older brother for years. To my surprise, they ho-hummingly participated. And they were WAY more excited about getting a bag of Goldfish crackers and a Capri Sun post-game than making a basket. Snacks were all the talk on the bench and spurred a race to the goody trough post-game. I had obviously failed them as a basketball mom. I write a blog on clean eating, after all.
When did snacks become such a focal point? A calorie trophy? Compensation for merely showing up? A necessary part of the game plan?
It pains me to see how this is playing out on tracks and soccer fields across America. And it creates guilt. Do I sit back and allow my children foods we discourage at home – at (even before) the dinner hour? Foods that are sugar-laden with Red Dye #40. Or do I put my foot down and take a stand for something I whole-heartedly disagree with – and deny my children a bit of happiness while looking like a total ass? After all, it’s not much fun being THAT parent.
Don’t get me wrong, while working on my own Eat Clean agenda I tried to toe the line. I raised my hand to organize snacks for our fall soccer team last year. I sent out an email that was short and sweet (so I thought): “A healthy snack (minimally processed and nut-free) is encouraged. Fresh fruit is always a good option. Drinks are not necessary since kids will have their water bottles. Thank you in advance!”
Um…yeah. It apparently took [soccer] balls and was not well received. I was told I sounded “bitchy” and “like a Snack Nazi.” Of course, people didn’t heed my suggestions. I believe cupcakes with whipped frosting and flavored juice boxes were the all-season low (not only did we have a soccer game, it was the kid’s birthday that week). Of course! Who doesn’t want a large helping of partially hydrogenated oil for dinner left over from a Charles Cheese Extravaganza? And by the end of the season, I totally succumbed to the “norm” and bought a cake at Costco for the year-end celebration. I was fighting a losing battle and a tub of Betty Crocker kicked my butt. Here people, I know how much you LOVE frosting.
In all seriousness, I know parents advocating snacks are well-intentioned. And while I’m pretty sure the Costco sheet cake wasn’t the best choice I’ve ever made, I am choosing to let go of the guilt over post-game snacks. Yes, there are more extreme measures I could take – like contacting the sports associations and requesting that snacks be eliminated all together. But I’m not going to. At least not until my blog goes double platinum (wink, wink).
Why? Because each and every day, I am setting good examples in what I put on the dinner table. I am teaching The Dirties that healthy foods fuel our bodies and make us feel good. I am showing them how colorful and fun fresh fruits and vegetables can be. True learning starts at home. An unhealthy snack two times per week post-game isn’t going to make or break my efforts to bring up my family as healthy as possible. And my kids need autonomy to learn to make good decisions on their own. Having said that, I will continue to provide frozen grapes in eco-friendly bags when it’s my turn to bring snacks. Without a drink. Sure, some Candyland kids might complain like their mom’s iPhone battery just died. But they’ll survive just as they would 30 minutes without Minecraft until they can calmly and happily plug back in.
And if my kids happen to have a tummy ache after eating crap on the ball field, I will chalk it up as a win. So go ahead, eat that Nutty Bar, kiddo – and wash it down with a Dr. Pepper while you’re at it. Because this mom is letting go!
You can read more from Leigh at www.eatcleanlivedirty.com or follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/eatcleanlivedirty.