Part of the current culture of parenting is providing the BEST for our children. We feed them the best, whether breast-milk or organic international formula then organic vegetables and antibiotic-free, free range, grass fed meats and poultry. We live in the best neighborhoods, with the best schools or we send them to the best private schools. We find the best activities from the best gymnastics, best piano teacher, best sports leagues and then when that’s not good enough, the best traveling select teams. But is giving our kids the “best" of everything, really what is best for them?
I grew up living under the poverty line so extras weren’t really in the budget. I think that plus my innate perfectionism and competitive nature is what led me to get caught up in that culture when raising my twins, now 15 years old. I spent hours, days, weeks, and months researching everything I put my kids into from preschool, Little Gym, Musikgarten, sports league,s and kindergarten. I was so afraid that if I didn’t give them the best of everything, that I was a failure as their mom and that they might miss out on an opportunity later in life. I’m here to tell you today that I was wrong, so very wrong.
I am currently part of a research team looking to innovate youth ministry. Part of that process has been interviewing teens, tweens, and people who work with that population. The kids we interviewed fell in the demographics of our church, which is mostly middle to upper middle class living in good neighborhoods with great schools, both public and private – probably very much like the general demographics of this group as well. We asked them about their life, what’s important to them, and how they feel about their future in addition to questions on community, friendships, and spirituality.
What we learned is the success-oriented and “only the best” mindset held by adults has created a feeling of fear and scarcity for our young people defined by hopelessness, and a skewed perspective that any step off of the pre-prescribed path will result in irredeemable failure. This perspective does not allow for freedom or creativity and is antithetical to our beliefs as Christians about where our identity and value lies. So many of the teenagers told us that their parents insisted on only the BEST for them, and they internalized to mean they owed it to their parents to be the best at everything as well. They believe that being the best is all that matters to themselves, their parents, and their teachers. This has put so much pressure on them that they feel they have no freedom to experiment with new things, to learn from mistakes, or just do what they love. Between this and believing the bad news story the media has hyped of scarcity in college admissions and job placements after college, which are just not true, they can’t see the real good news story of all of the opportunities that await them even if they are never the best at anything other than being their authentic selves. This leads to feelings of hopelessness and anxiety. This is by no means what their parents meant to impart by giving them the best. This is the worst outcome parents could have predicted.
What can you do to save your children from this hopelessness and anxiety? Stop worrying so much about the BEST. There is no such thing. It’s a myth, and a marketing campaign, and way to steal the joy from families. Choose the things that give your family joy, build community, and don’t have you driving all over the metroplex. When you are looking for activities for your kids, choose ones that are conveniently located and that have them participating with kids in your own community. This will help them to make friends with whom they can build true connection and can conveniently have play-dates, and you and your spouse will also make new friends in your own community. Humans are designed to be in community with one another, and healthy, convenient community connections are integral to healthy development.
Look at the preschools near your neighborhood. You don’t need to drive them across town to the preschool you’ve heard is the BEST. Choose a school that is convenient for times and location that has kind and gentle teachers and lots of little kids who look like they love being there. It should focus on learning through play and developmental readiness, not academic success. No kid needs to know how to read or write all their letters and numbers going into kindergarten – that’s what kindergarten and first grade are for. These are developmental skills that your kid can only learn when their brain and fine motor skills develop for them and there is a wide range of ages when this happens naturally. It’s the same as crawling and walking. You can’t teach those things until their body is ready. Forcing it won’t help them learn and can hinder that development. Even if you are planning on sending your kids to private school, you don’t need to have your kid in any special preschool – no matter what the other moms may tell you. Just listen to your Aunt Linda.
Join the recreational league in your own community for baseball, soccer, basketball, etc. You do not need to drive to ULL or Westside because they are “The” little leagues to play in if you want your kid to have a shot of going to the Little League World Series. You don’t need to drive across town to enroll your kids in the Margo Dean School of Dance or Texas Ballet Theater. There are wonderful dance studios all over the area where your children can dance with kids that they will later know in school.
Maybe eventually you will find you have a kid who is obsessed with a sport or an art and you will want to give them an opportunity for further growth in a higher level program, but don’t feel the pressure to do that until your precious one begs for it. Don’t even listen to the coaches and teachers who are convinced all their best students need to be in a professional company or select team. You will want them to play their sports and do their activities through their school if possible. Don’t be the parent who has their kid in select sports because their school team isn’t good enough. The social skills and sense of belonging that kids gain from playing on their school’s team are invaluable.
Protect your kids’ mental health and well-being by staying out of the Rat Race. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Give yourself permission to enjoy your children and their childhood without always planning for their future. Live in the moment. What you are doing with and for your kids today needs to be what’s right for your family today, and not what you are afraid you need to do for their future. Give them the time and space to explore, make mistakes, and to rest. Focus your efforts on your kids’ well-being, social development, and family time. Let yourself off the hook for having to provide the best, because they already have the best – a family that loves them unconditionally.
Linda Kennedy is a former teacher who is passionate about children and learning with a special love for kids in middle and high school, a community volunteer and wife of 25 years to Shane, mom to twins Shane and Savannah.
As we wrap up the Christmas Festivities, here's one for you MOM's!
For all the nights you stayed up late
to trim the Christmas tree,
For all the costly presents
That you purchased more than one…
For all the times you tucked us in
And read us a story or two,
For all the ways you cheered us up
When we were feeling blue…
For all the cookies that you baked
And stockings that you stuffed,
For all the messes you cleaned up
And pillows that you fluffed…
For all the days you loved each of us
Even when we made it hard,
For all these things, and much, much more…
Here’s a Christmas poem of thanks to you!
Christmas, holidays, and family gatherings can be synonymous with two contrasting experiences: joy, excitement, fond memories... or chaos, stress, and tension! I have yet to meet a family who at some point during the holiday season does not experience the duality of these two worlds, sometimes within the same moment!
Peace can be hard to come by.
This is especially true for mothers with lots of little hearts and hands to mind. I can remember the trepidation of the first Christmas our twins were toddlers. How would we make it through Christmas dinner’s inflexible timing occurring in the middle of nap time... followed by an evening full of gift opening and sweets?! With the only grandchildren in our family, many of the adults were not accustomed to watching out for hands and a hot oven, or worrying about leaving scissors out, setting glasses on the coffee table, or the looming and very attractive grand staircase at my in-laws'. I was looking forward to the family time and not being responsible for a meal, but dreading the actual activities surrounding Christmas Eve.
Dread is another word for fear and yep, I was there.
We made it through the visit, and I left feeling exhausted and a bit deflated. The wheels had only fallen off twice (once per child) which, considering all the things, that was a Christmas miracle in my mind! Something was missing and it wasn’t for lack of gifts, or food, or laughter. I was missing Peace. You see, the best part of Christmas has always been the “why” for me. The Prince of Peace is why. The generosity is why. The Hope is why. I had forgotten that in the busyness, in the negotiations over the timing of dinner, worrying over the details big and little, and I had let fear creep in.
All year we have been talking about living a fearless lifestyle and thinking back on Christmas with multiples brought up this memory. I missed true peace that year and I do not want a repeat! I don’t want any other momma to miss it either. Peace is a powerful force, and I’m going to give you three tips to help you stay on course this year as the festivities commence!
Know what true peace looks like.
Excuse me as I geek out a bit, but the Hebrew word for peace is Shalom. In the Hebrew language each letter is a word picture. When you build words from these letters, a picture is developed of a larger definition than what we have in the English language. Shalom is such a cool word. It means to be safe, sound, healthy, perfect, complete, well-being and harmony, prosperity, rest, the absence of agitation or discord, state of calm without anxiety or stress. That sounds just lovely and like what we all desire! I could go on about its vast and strong definition, but I want to bring out one picture written in the word Shalom: “to destroy the authority attached to chaos.” Or it could be said, “the destruction of the world’s chaos by infusing the presence of God.” For moms, including myself, this definition cuts to the core. True peace is this, the defeat of stress and chaos caused by the world around us. Based on this, chaos and stress of all the holiday happenings has no right to steal our peace. Knowing what peace truly looks like helps me maintain inner and complete harmony, regardless of the situation or people or outside forces around me. It can help you too! When things don’t go as planned, hold on to that inner peace that destroys the turmoil inside of you, for that is where the battle is won!
Peace is a place, stay there!
I think of peace as an address that I can put in my GPS and get there. It’s a location in my heart and head that I choose as my destination. Even if in the world around me traffic is heavy, the visibility is low, delays ahead are causing us to be late, the GPS will continue to “reroute” me towards my inner destination. The key is choosing to follow the direction and not get off course. At times it can be hard to trust that direction when my first instinct may be to snap back at a snarky comment. But then the GPS says: “turn right and shut your mouth”. Remaining on course in that place of peace is the way we beat the chaos and worry. As we follow those inner directions, know the destination is well worth it! Peace is a position of our heart, not our outward situation.
Intentionally promote peace.
Families can be difficult, kids act up, schedules get off, food gets burned, items get forgotten, that one uncle brings up politics at the wrong time. We all will likely be in situations that have a great opportunity to ruin our celebrations. Choose ahead of time to not be the cause of it. The way I contribute to peace is to speak the truth in love, cover others’ missteps with compassion, and take the initiative to smooth over hurt feelings of others. That Christmas dinner mentioned above, I failed at it. I knew a 2pm meal was going to be terrible for my twins and meant no nap and disastrous attitudes to follow. Admittedly, I did not communicate that well in love, nor did I care much about the feelings of anyone other than my children and myself. I sucked the peace right out of the room with my selfish comments. I learned this one the hard way, and it caused ME to let go of my peace. Even though I wanted to blame others, I was the only one responsible for my inner peace. Moving forward into every future family event, I plan to lovingly advocate for my children’s needs while considering others. Be willing to be flexible and talk through solutions that work for the entire group. Make room for others, be generous with your responses, don’t take ridiculous comments so seriously that you leave that place of peace in your heart to get offended. I promise, intentionality will open the door for others to accommodate you and yours. And if not, don’t let go of your peace.
We have been given a gift of peace, of Shalom. Choose to let it in, to live in that place of inner peace, to seek out the opportunity to promote peace in all your holiday celebrations. There’s so much to love about this time of year, and it’s an incredible opportunity to learn how to live in a place of peace amid the hustle and bustle. One last parting thought as you take off to do all the things on your list. Remember those little hearts that watch you closely. They will learn to hold onto peace no matter what the world brings into their life as they watch you live a fearless and peaceful lifestyle in front of them.
Merry Christmas FWMOM, I pray that the Prince of Peace surrounds your heart and mind this holiday season! SHALOM!
John 14:27 “I leave the gift of peace with you- My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but My perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts- instead, be courageous!”
Tonya Flowers is mother to 4 year old twins Wyatt and Timothy and older brother Lucas. She serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.
There are many holiday traditions in my family, including cookie decorating, hot cocoa, Christmas carols, and traveling to see family and friends, but there is one tradition that always stays right near the top of my list… The Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples Annual Santa Event!
I remember the first year I attended the FWMoM Santa event. The girls were so tiny and the event was held in a small church on the west side of Fort Worth. The decorations were up, and there was food and crafts ready for the kids. It was such a sweet time for our family and I was able to meet some great MoMs who have remained my dearest friends until today.
This organization has grown over the years to well over twice the size, so the location for this particular event needed to change. It has now landed right in the center of Fort Worth at the Hulen Mall food court. Each year, Hulen Mall graciously opens its doors early and blocks off half of the food court to host a private event that will accommodate our over 350 attendees (and growing)!
Our Santa event this year was nothing short of magic! We had craft tables with a variety of activities for the kids, a raffle table full of Christmas books, a discount on food from Chick-fil-A, a private Meet and Greet with Santa himself, and just when you thought it couldn’t get any better... we gathered together to sing some of our favorite Christmas carols as one big FWMoM family. Even a large group of our kids jumped on stage to lead the singing and dancing.
My twins LOVE attending this Santa event and look forward to it every year. I have enjoyed all of the memories we have made with this wonderful group, and even when my girls reach the age that they no longer get as excited about attending, I know that we will be signing up to volunteer where we are needed. That is the sweetest part of this organization – there is always a way to stay involved.
FWMoM would like to give a special thanks to Legacy Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry who sponsored this special event, making it all possible. We were so proud to have Dr. Brazeal bring his beautiful family to help us celebrate and join in the fun!
Author: Janae Huffman is a twin mom to Audrey and Eleanor, age 5. She is the VP of Special Events for FWMoM and an Occupational Therapy in Granbury now that her kids have entered into school.
Everywhere you look, there is a mom doing things “better” (or so we think), or has all of her stuff together on Instagram, or has a much cleaner house then you do, or cooks amazing looking meals every night according to Facebook, and you are lucky if you have dinner on the table before 8 pm. (Who's with me?!) In case you are wondering, I am the latter. I realized about 6 months ago that I need to 100% not care what others think of me (to a point), and I need to take that energy and sink it all into intentional time with my twins, hubby, and my business, J. Scott Events. It seems like there is so much buzz around “status” these days or comparing and dissecting people’s lives that I don’t remember seeing when I was a little girl. (It might just be all the technology, but anywayssssss… It makes things harder to be your biggest cheerleader and to not get down on yourself when the season of life you are in looks a little different from what others are blasting all over social media. (Don’t let it overwhelm you!) Ok, that might be a little dramatic but you get what I’m trying to say don’t you? We are moms of multiples! That alone makes you a SUPERWOMAN! Don’t forget it, sister!!
Here are a few photos - for your enjoyment - of me in my earlier days of trying to get my business off the ground... and some of the craziness with the struggle of being a working mom. Give yourself some grace no matter what you're working on or what season of life you're in. If only social media wasn't the BEST of everyone's lives, you would see a bit more of this:
WHAT TO DO INSTEAD OF COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS
Instead of comparing yourself to other moms who seem to have it all together on social media (use the time you would be scanning the internet) try a few things I find helpful in my own life (for what it’s worth). This also ties into self love and my attempt at not burning out as a wedding planner, and honestly sometimes as a mamma.
You are an incredible mom! Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!!
Author: Jessica Scott has 3-year-old twins, Adalia Reese and Emerson Scott. She works full time from her home office when she is not out meeting with brides and sipping on her 3rd bullet coffee of the day! She launched J. Scott Events two in a half years ago and has loved getting to design and plan weddings for every type of couple! She is truly passionate about what she does.
As our group grows and changes, so have our meetings. We have tried to incorporate more fun guest speakers, games, and activities for each meeting. And also tried to give you more incentive to be there with giveaways, yummy food and drinks, and fun themes! In case you have had to miss the meetings so far, here is a brief update on each.
August Meeting: End of the Year Camping Trip (preparation, enthusiasm, preparedness)
For our first meeting of our new year, we had a record turnout of 53 members and guests. We sat at tables based around our children’s ages, and began our year-long focus on our President, Ashley Hughes’, FWMoM Keys for Success by enjoying table discussions centered around preparation, enthusiasm, and preparedness. We heard a presentation from our sponsors at iCare ER on first-aid, safety, and immunizations, and enjoyed some yummy campfire food, including walking tacos and s’mores at our tables! Several lucky people received a funny mom shirt or FWMoM car decal as giveaways. It was fun night filled with laughter, great conversation, and meeting new friends! Personally, it was so moving to see such a wonderful turnout and be in a FULL room with so many great women -- all laughing, talking, and enjoying each other’s company! It was such a great sight and sound!
September Meeting: A Night at the Movies, Trivia Style (confidence, collaboration, inclusiveness)
For our September meeting, we moved into our new space, the Trinity ballroom, where we are able to accommodate our growing group much more comfortably! We also had a wonderful turnout this meeting, with 51 members and 4 guests in attendance. We enjoyed pizza and salad provided by our sponsor, Susan Wentworth at Enfamil, and then heard a presentation from her on picky eaters, brain development, and DHA. Our Keys for Success at this meeting were confidence, collaboration, and inclusiveness, which we focused on by channeling our inner celebrities with movie-themed trivia, and sitting at tables based around the areas where we live. The winning trivia teams enjoyed gift cards received in donation from the Cityview Target and QT. For me, this was such a fun night to see everyone’s competitive side come and out, and find out who knows their movie facts! It got LOUD in that Trinity ballroom, and was so much fun!
October Meeting: A Meeting of the Super MoM League (responsiveness, efficiency, courage)
For our October meeting, we were blessed with a wonderful donation from Corey Bearden at League Real Estate that provided us with a baked potato and salad bar, and we were provided with cookies from our sponsor Dr. Brazeal at Legacy Pediatric Dentistry. We had 34 members and 1 guest in attendance, and sat at tables based on which female superhero we identified with. Before the meeting began, we took time to honor those who had lost a child for Wave of Light (pregnancy and infant loss). We heard a presentation from Dr. Brazeal on dental health for our kiddos, followed by a self-defense class demo provided by Robert and Jennifer Klenka from Fort Worth Combatives. A few lucky guests received a pair of BentGo boxes, a FWMoM water bottle, and a book from Fort Worth Combatives as prizes. This was a packed and very busy night, where we actually ran over on time. But personally, this night was one of my favorite meetings to date because of everything I took away from the self-defense class and seeing everyone there enjoy both presentations! The self-defense class was very interactive and it was great to see everyone laugh and get into it!
November Meeting: Moms’RUs Kids, We Don’t Wanna Grow Up (organization, delegation, attention to detail)
At our November meeting last week, we enjoyed some taco soup with all the toppings and some delicious Lego brownies. We had 37 members and 4 guests present, and sat at tables based on our locations again. We heard so much great “grown up” info from one of our sponsors, Clint Dennis of Killen & Dennis, on wills, powers of attorney, and all that is involved. Afterwards, we rebelled a little against growing up and had fun with a Playdough Challenge where we created ourselves as MoMs, and enjoyed some fun conversation. The winners of the Playdough Challenge received Target gift cards and a FWMoM water bottle, and other giveaways included a pair of earrings, a bracelet, and QT free drink cards. This meeting was pretty low key, but it was such an informative meeting with so much laughter and fun!
Taking over a role in Programs on the FWMoM Executive Board this year has been such a fun undertaking for me! Before joining FWMoM, I did not take time for myself as a person, away from my family or outside of being a mom. This group has allowed me a fun space to do that, and given me the chance to take on a role where I can utilize my skills and interests. In my role as a Co-VP of Programs, I am able to do something that I truly enjoy... plan parties! It has been so rewarding to plan and prep meetings with topics or themes that I think everyone will enjoy, work with budget and donors to get as much out of our nights as I can, and then to see everyone enjoy their time and leave full and happy is just the best part!
And seeing our meeting attendance grow has been such an exciting thing! It is an amazing feeling to be in the meeting space as it is quiet, before anyone arrives, and then hear the noise level rise with laughter and conversation as everyone enters. These meetings are such a warm place to be with people who are truly excited to see you, care about you and enjoy your company. Looking around the room and seeing so many different women who come together and enjoy each other in such a way, is truly a special thing!
We have such a big year coming up and so many amazing meetings planned, so be sure to mark your calendars and make it a point to attend, invite guests, and encourage other members to come out as well! Take time for yourself each month to get out of the house and unwind. You will not be sorry you did!
December 17th: Dr. Wadley from 127 Pediatrics will speak, topic TBD
Craft Night – bracelets with Patty Marshall from Texas Phoenix Art Glass
January 21st: FWMoM’s 1st Ever Health Fair featuring local gyms, fitness groups and trainers, nutrition/meal prep coaches, overall health/wellness experts, and healthy living options. There will be free health checks for all, and lots of great giveaways! Open to members AND GUESTS!!
February 18th: Celeste Holbrook, PhD. and sex educator will speak on female sexuality and how it’s affected by marriage, motherhood, and life!!
Author: Heather Wilks is a girl mom to 3 year old Rowan, and 22 month old twins Zeplyn and Parrish. She’s married to her best friend and travel buddy. She is a stay at home mom to her girls, loves cooking and working out; and this is her first year serving as Co-VP of Programs on the FWMoM Board.
Fear starts with a thought and usually it’s not alone. It is kind of like getting caught in a rainstorm... you never just feel one single drop of rain. Fear thoughts come in like storm clouds that soak you to the bone. I remember when we were ready to start trying again for another child. Our oldest was 3 and we were hopeful for pregnancy to happen quickly. We had always gotten pregnant easily, and already walked through one miscarriage before Lucas, and I was thankful that that unpleasant experience was behind us... certainly that would not happen again. Like before, we were overjoyed to get pregnant again quickly!
Like a flood, I remember being angry, sad and consumed with fear when we lost that child. It wasn’t just one fearful thought, it was millions. It wasn’t just consuming my mind; fear affected my body and our marriage. Thankfully, my husband remained unmoved and helped me pull myself back together and began believing again for a child. We were surrounded by a church family that were all praying, and the support of that community helped heal my heart.
I soon moved out of fear and back into confidence. However, we suffered not one more, not two more, but three more miscarriages in the subsequent year. A total of 4 babies. We did all the right things, saw all the doctors, took all the supplements, wrote a prayer of petition, sought out a holistic approach, visited high risk specialists... all to learn there was absolutely nothing wrong with either of us. We were clearly fertile and there was no good reason for us to be losing these babies. The one bad reason was that we have an enemy, and that punk had come to steal from us. Fear rained hard, and at times our umbrellas folded under the pressure.
We had a choice to make. Would we let the fear of never having another child stop us in our pursuit of expanding our family? Or would we press forward in confidence? The battle with fear always starts between your ears, in your mind. Eventually, what’s in your mind will come out of your mouth in the form of words, which will shape your life. We really felt the pounding rain of fear inside us. Then we read a scripture that gave us the wisdom on how to rise above these seemingly never-ending rain clouds:
2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, and casting down arguments and reasonings and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive into the obedience of Christ.”
Gosh, take every thought captive. What that means is that anytime a thought comes into your mind, you must verify it has the right to be there. Similar to the way the TSA agent verifies your flight information and examines your bags (and you) before allowing you entry to the internal part of the airport. That is the way we should screen our thoughts to clear entry to our minds. Specifically, before they come out of our mouth and cause damage.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Your words are so powerful that they will kill or give life, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” What you say guides your life and choices. Like I said before, fear thoughts rarely come alone. They show up in droves to the entry to your mind with baggage designed to keep you from taking off. If fear can get your focus off your destination, it can keep you from flying above the storm! For my husband and I, we knew we had to examine every thought that came into our mind. Anytime fear would rain on me, I would say out loud, “I’m so thankful to be a happy mother of children.” It didn’t matter what I was doing. Even if it was a weird time to say it, it was a tool I used to take those thoughts captive and refocus.
We continued all the things we were doing in the natural. We followed all the physician's advice, but our main battle was in our minds, and we were determined to win. We were going to take off and set out at an altitude above the rain clouds of fear. See, once you determine not to allow fear to consume you, your life can rise above the storm where there's peace and clear skies.
Not long after, we got pregnant again. I vividly recall that drive to our first ultrasound appointment. I prayed the whole way, and my husband and I shared stories that encouraged our faith. We were battling in our minds and stirring up hope in one another for the family we had dreamed of. He’s pretty good at making me laugh and said, “Even when we have a healthy baby, we could still practice some more at conceiving!” For Heaven’s sake!
We desperately wanted to hear the whoosh of a little healthy heartbeat. As you all know, God had done a lot more than just one little heartbeat! He multiplied our family dream with twins! I was so thankful; all I could do was laugh! You would think fear would have taken me over at that point. However, instead of being flooded with fear and worry over a high-risk pregnancy, I was filled with the strongest peace I have ever felt. That peace carried me through the entire pregnancy, and we welcomed our two sweet additions with no fear!
You too can overcome fear by paying close attention to what is going on in your mind. Verify and screen your thoughts carefully, because they will produce life or death. To be clear, fear will always come. The power to overcome fear rests entirely on what you allow to come out your mouth in that moment. Consider what you can say when the feeling of fear rains down, and you will be living a fearless lifestyle before you know it!
Author: Tonya Flowers is the mother of 3 boys: Lucas who’s a 3rd grader, and 3 year old twin boys, Wyatt and Timothy. She is a nurse part time, a minister at her church, and serves FWMOM as our Chaplain.
It's meal time at your home and you're planning the menu. You lovingly prepare the meal for your family and place the food on the table. You all proceed to sit down and dish up. You are secretly praying inside that maybe, just maybe, this time your child is going to take some vegetables. If your prayers are answered, maybe they will even try them. Some of you might be saying, "Oh well... My child has always loved their vegetables." Congratulations! You have a magical unicorn! For the other 99% of us, getting your kids to eat, let alone "like" vegetables can seem like a daunting task.
As a chef for over 18 years, I have seen every kind of kid eater there is out there. While I don't have a magical recipe that will make your kids love their vegetables overnight, I am, however, going to explain some things about this most very important part of your child’s diet. I'll shed some light on the rainbow of vegetables, and how they benefit your child, and maybe even share a trick or two that can help you out, mama.
In June 2011, the United States of Agriculture (USDA) replaced the tried and true Food Pyramid that we knew growing up, with My Plate. Just like its predecessor, My Plate puts a big emphasis on vegetables for your child’s diet. It encourages you to make your child’s plate a rainbow of vegetables. Why would they now start to emphasize this, you may ask? Well, believe it or not, every color and type of vegetable comes with its own health benefits for that growing body of your child. Vegetables are broken down into 5 categories: dark green, red/orange, beans/peas, starchy and other. I am even going to do one better for you, mamas. I am going to identify each group and their health benefits:
1) Dark Green: This includes broccoli, collard greens, dark green leafy lettuce, romaine and spinach. This category brings along with it the benefits of strong bones and teeth; vision health, and lowers the risk of some cancers.
2) Red/Orange: This includes acorn and butternut squash; carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. This category brings along with it the benefits of boosting the immune system (Vitamin A), heart and blood health (red veggies); vision and teeth health (Beta keratin) and lowers the risk of some cancers.
3) Beans/Peas (legumes): This includes black beans, black-eyes peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), pinto beans, red beans and white beans. This category brings along with it the benefits of helping digestion (good ol’ fiber), lowers cholesterol and lowers the risk of some cancers.
4) Starchy (everyone’s favorite category of them all!): This includes corn, green peas, green lima beans, jicama, plantains and white potatoes. This category brings along with it the benefits of extra carbohydrates that feed working muscles. The brain can only use carbohydrates as fuel for your body. In this category moderation really is key.
5) Other vegetables: Includes asparagus, avocado (yes it counts as a veggie), cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers or pickles; green beans, green peppers, mushrooms, onions, radishes and zucchini. This category brings along with it the benefits of providing color and nutrient variety, healthy heart (white vegetables), and memory health and aging (purple/blue vegetables), and lowers the risk of some cancers.
While this might seem all well and good, the question I know you must have is, "Just how many servings a day or week does my child need?" Well, this all depends on the age, and, yes, even the gender of your child. The USDA recommends these daily servings:
2-3 years: 1-1 1⁄2 cups
4-8 years; 1 1⁄2- 2 1⁄2 cups
9-13 years (girls): 2-4 cups
9-13 years (boys): 2 1⁄2-4 cups
14-18 years (girls): 2 1⁄2-4 cups
14-18 years (boys): 3-4 cups
Now, you might ask, why such a big range at each age? Like most other foods, how many vegetables your child should eat has a lot to do with your child’s activity level. An active child burning more calories will need more vegetables than an inactive child.
And what counts as one serving of vegetables for a child? According to the USDA, one serving is equal to 1⁄2 cup of raw or cooked vegetables, 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables and 1⁄2 cup cooked or canned peas or beans. So, looking at a weekly goal for your child’s vegetable intake incorporating the 5 categories of vegetables could look like this:
1) Dark greens: 1⁄2 cup each week
2) Red/orange: 1 1⁄4 cups each week
3) Beans/peas: 1⁄2 cup each week
4) Starchy: 1⁄2 cup each week
5) Other vegetables: 3⁄4 cup each week
And now that you have all this knowledge, I am sure you are asking yourself, "Well this is all fine and good, Jennifer, but how do I get my child to actually eat said healthy vegetables?” As I mentioned earlier I do not have a magical way for your child to eat their vegetables. I do, however, have some suggestions and tricks to help you to get them to try and eat them.
A love of vegetables can be started at a very early age. Most experts recommend starting early by offering your older infant and toddler a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Examples of how you can start this love of vegetables at any age for your child:
-Set a good example by eating vegetables yourself. Like they say “monkey see, monkey do.” You need to make sure your own choices are in line with the foods you want your child to eat.
-Prepare meals together. By having a hand in making the meal increases the chances your child will want to taste his/her creation.
-Avoid showing disinterest or disgust when trying new foods. A study found that mothers who showed that they didn’t want to try a new food had a child that also tended to refuse new foods.
-Mix in vegetables with foods that your child already loves. Examples of this could be as easy as an extra topping on pizza, extra veggies pureed in spaghetti sauce or mixed into a casserole or soup.
-Visit a farmer’s market to buy fresh vegetables and let your child pick them. If you're feeling hands on and have time, let your child start their own vegetable garden.
-Offer low fat dressing or dip as a side for vegetables. Let's face it most kids have a slight obsession to dip their food.
-Provide raw vegetables as a snack. Good examples of this are baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, sliced bell peppers, cherry tomatoes or celery sticks. Remember provide a rainbow.
-Offer your child A LOT of choices. At first, provide smaller servings, and then increase. Remember and keep in mind most children, especially our picky eaters, will not try a new vegetable until they see it on their plate at least 10 times. So don't give up hope easily, mama.
At the end of the day, we always say, “Fed is best.” Every family is different when it comes to how they will incorporate various foods into their child’s diet. I hope the knowledge, advice and tips I have provided you can help start a love of vegetables in your child. Whether they know it or not, the eating habits they start now at a young age affect their health as an adult. So let's start our children on the right foot towards a healthier future.
Author: Jennifer Beckom is a twin mom to four year olds, Clara and Elizabeth. She is a wife, chef and child nutritionist. She has served as Secretary and Programs VP for FWMOM.
“Are we going to the nice hospital mommy?” Santiago asked me as we pulled up to the entrance. He'd been crying for over an hour about an earache on this last visit. I didn't want to go to the local children's hospital and have to wait for hours for such a small medical issue. iCare ER is quick ride from our home in Crowley down Chisholm Trail, where it is located on Sycamore School Road exit. It is well lit with a bright waiting room and accessible snack and drink bar in the front waiting area. The front desk ladies are quick and helpful.
We are quickly escorted into a room within minutes of arriving each and every time. We've been to the iCare ER with our 7 year old medically fragile triplets many times over the past year. They were born weighing 1lb each and, because of that, have many medical maladies. This simple, yet thoughtful action, reduces the other sicknesses we might come into contact if we went to the local children’s hospital, and gets us back home safely after treating their illness.
As a working mom who is also a doctoral student at Texas Christian University, with four special needs children, iCare ER is the best place in town for our everyday maladies. Each and every time we have to visit the iCare ER they are kind, knowledgeable and efficient. On one occasion, we all had to go. It was nice that both adults and kids could stop at just one place and be individually assessed. We all had the flu, and we were quickly tested and diagnosed, and given Tamiflu. We were grateful that we were able to go as soon as symptoms appeared, and not have to wait days for a doctor’s appointment. Last month we were in and out in thirty minutes with a script in our hands!
So thank you “nice hospital” for treating our family!!! We love the amazing service and make sure to tell all our multiple moms about it!!
Author: Liz is mom to 15 year old (Gabriel), and triplet 7 year olds (Felicita, Frida & Santiago). She has been a Fort Worth Mother of Multiples for about 5 years. She manages an Au Pair company, Adjuncts at TCU and is a full time doctorate student. She also sits on Committees at Cook Children Hospital, MHMR, and Crowley ISD.
If your family is anything like mine, then perhaps you find yourself feeling overwhelmed when it comes to the holidays. In addition to having FOUR Christmases (which is perhaps 2 more than anybody needs), we are invited to office parties, friends’ parties, holiday shows, and seasonal events. And it starts earlier and earlier each year! The “most wonderful time of the year” can quickly become the most stressful time of the year, if I am not careful. Add in the fact that we're moms of multiples, and the holidays can get downright chaotic! I have had the privilege of learning some great holiday tips and traditions from others, and from experience, and would love to share them with you all.
Because we have four Christmases, and always travel in December, my family has decided to never travel for Thanksgiving. We will always be home on that Thursday in November, because we realized we need a holiday for ourselves. This is our opportunity to make our own traditions, do our own thing, and not be on the road on one of the busiest travel dates of the year. So come Thanksgiving day, you will always find my family at our home, with the juiciest smoked turkey, all the fixin’s, and the game on TV. We decided we will always invite our families to join us, because the purpose of staying home for this holiday is not to exclude anyone, but rather to have family time in a stress-free environment that allows us to really enjoy the holiday and each other’s company.
After Thanksgiving, December is upon us. This seems to be the busiest time of the year. I have found that I must do some prep work if I want to also make it the happiest time of the year. When I say prep work, I don’t mean a to-do list a mile long, or a shopping list for gifts that includes everyone I’ve ever met. I mean TWO simple lists: (1) what NOT to do, and (2) my priorities.
First, when deciding what NOT to do, I like to use this simple test: Does it bring me joy or does it cause me stress? Here's what I know about myself: I will NOT send out Christmas cards. It’s just something that I find very stressful (what if I forgot someone, what if I don’t send them out in time, etc.), and have decided not to do. I also will NOT buy too many gifts for my kids (even though I really want to give them everything!!). I have adopted a really cool idea I heard about - to intentionally give your kids four gifts: (1) something they want, (2) something they need, (3) something to wear, and (4) something to read. This gives me a clear list of four different things I can gift my children with, and keeps me from going overboard with the toys (because, let’s be honest - we already spend enough time cleaning up the toys they have now but hardly play with).
Secondly, when it comes to setting holiday priorities, here’s what I’ve accumulated over the years:
Feel great about saying, “No.” When adding something to the holiday schedule, I try to ask myself if it will add stress OR if it will add joy. If it doesn’t bring us joy, I feel good turning it down. There simply isn’t enough time to do ALL the things. I must choose what’s best for our family.
Make FUN memories by doing something out of the ordinary. We like to "put the kids to bed" early one night, only to go right back in and surprise them with hot chocolate and a family car ride to go look at Christmas lights. Other ideas include: having a special treat for breakfast, chasing the kids all over the playground, playing whatever game they ask to play, and putting my phone away for the entire day.
Be of good cheer. Playing festive music and singing along can do wonders for bad attitudes. Impromptu dance parties also provide a great mood-boosting break. I also love to turn on a cheery Christmas movie and grab a bowl of popcorn to enjoy with the family. Whatever it is, make time to keep your spirits bright.
Do something for myself. I need time to breathe and relax, and some of my favorite ideas to choose from include: taking a walk around the neighborhood, enjoying a chapter of a good book, soaking in a hot bath, sipping on a mug of coffee or tea, taking a nap, or making time to hit the gym. Investing in yourself is important, because you cannot give of yourself when you are empty. You must first be full!
Enjoy time spent with family and friends. This season is all about thankfulness and joy, and some of my greatest blessings are my husband, children, family, and friends. Get rid of the distractions and simply enjoy the opportunity to spend time with loved ones.
Have high hopes and low expectations. I try to hope for the best and be optimistic, yet at the same time be understanding when things don't go to plan. If I spend all my time planning for the holidays, I find I am very easily disappointed when any little thing goes wrong - and something almost always goes wrong! Instead of stressing over the schedule, I try to enjoy the preparations. I particularly like to make a family fun night out of decorating the tree and baking cookies.
Beware comparison. If I start to lose focus on what really matters to me, or start looking around at what everyone else is doing, that’s when I start to stress. Am I doing enough? Can I rearrange my schedule to attend that event? Everyone else has taken all their decorations down already... Are they going to think I'm rude if I don't send them a Christmas card? If you start to compare, remember your priorities!
I've shared my list with you. I know it may not be the same as yours (remember, no comparing!), because my priorities are what I am choosing to pursue. Whatever your choices, feel good about your decisions this holiday season. Don’t let the fear of missing out steal your joy!
Please comment below and share your favorite tips for a stress-free holiday season.
Author: Ashley Hughes is a twin mom to 4 year olds, James and Timothy. She is a wife, baker, artist, and the President of Fort Worth Mothers of Multiples.
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