We recently joined a family music class for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The class is fun, and I'm really happy with the program, the structure and the teacher. I'm also really happy with the class rules. Well, one class rule in particular: no food or beverages in class.
This makes my life so much easier because I do not have to spend the hour keeping cereal, crackers and string cheese out of H's reach. I do not have to find a way to politely decline when other moms generously offer to share their snacks with my daughter. We can just enjoy the class. I love it!
Almost everywhere else we go is a different story, though. Last month we attended a few Mommy & Me events at The World Forestry Center, and snacks were provided. I'm sure most moms totally appreciate the free munchies, but for me it is troublesome. Kids run around with little cups of Cheerios and puffs, and I am constantly intervening as H reaches for their snacks (not because she is hungry, but because she wants what they have). I didn't intervene fast enough on every occasion, though, so much to my chagrin my paleo baby has eaten a Cheerio or two. C'est la vie, but I don't want this to become a regular thing. I started bringing my own snacks for her after the first incident, and that helped. Still, it doesn't take away her curiosity about what her friends are eating and it doesn't change the fact that we are going to have lots and lots of experiences like this in the future. Experiences where people offer her food and we have to turn it down. Experiences where she gets a hold of some processed food items. Or experiences where I have to be "that mom" who won't let her child eat the party food. I just wish the practice of non-stop snacking among kids wasn't so prevalent, and I wish more places had no food or beverages policies. I mean, is there really any reason why a child can't go 45 minutes without a snack? I think not (unless the child is truly hungry, in which case perhaps the parent could take them aside and give them something to eat?). But I highly doubt this is going to change in my favor, which means I just have to continue to be hyper-vigilant and I also need to carry patience and grace with me at all times.
Now, on to another topic. Grocery budgets. Or lack thereof. We spend a lot of money on food. A lot. Today I went to the store and spent $144. Some of it was not food (like a mother's day card for my mom and some sunscreen), but it is still a lot -- especially considering that I spent $72 on groceries on Sunday and will probably need to go the store again before the weekend is up. Sometimes I cringe when I swipe my debit card, but then I quickly remind myself that quality food is so, so important. I've noticed that there seems to be an expectation among a lot of people that food should be cheap, and that it is somehow an accomplishment to leave the grocery store having spent as little as possible. While I realize that many families need to be very, very careful about the amount of money they spend on food and other necessities, cheap food is not the answer. I remember seeing a meme on Facebook that said something like "you are what you eat, so don't be fast, easy or cheap." So, so true! I pay $4 a dozen for farm-fresh eggs, and we easily go through four dozen eggs each week. I know I could spend 50% less (or more!) by buying eggs at Winco, yes, but those eggs are not the same as the farm-fresh eggs. They are often pale, small and flavorless. And they tend to come from corn-fed chickens that live in substandard conditions. Their nutritional profile is very sad. Not the type of eggs I want to serve to my growing toddler (or myself!). I personally believe that quality food should be a priority in the budget, even if the budget is $200 a month for the whole family. I'm not saying that everyone should spend and prioritize the way I do, but I think it would be so helpful to public health as a whole if we could somehow move away from the mentality that food should be cheap. Of course, this is a complex issue and I am not even scratching the surface. I'm just stating my thoughts!