Have you ever left your children with the grandparents, only to discover they managed to feed them all kinds of junk food in the little time you were gone? It seems like I’m not the only one who has had this happen (see Khadijah L.'s post, Nana & Grandpa not as health conscious as I am). The funny thing is that my mom raised my sister and me on an extremely healthy diet. We were the kids no one wanted to swap lunches with because of our plain peanut butter sandwiches on whole grain bread. When other kids brought birthday treats to school, my mom would send us with an apple or plain popcorn to eat instead. So you can imagine my surprise when she became the worst offender of stuffing my kids with junk food!
Every time a grandparent comes to visit us, we can expect a bag full of treats. My father-in-law shows up with candy, trail mix full of candy, cookies, and more candy! My mom suddenly wants to treat the kids to dessert every night. Last Easter, my dad let my older son eat so much candy he threw up!
My husband and I have come to grips with the fact that all of them consider it an expression of love. Also, grandparents know that it’s their chance to make up for the rules they had to set with us. (Can’t you see them laughing at us as they drive away, knowing our children are about to have a sugar meltdown?) So we finally figured out a few ways to deal with this routine with a little compromise and a dose of humor. Here are my best tips for striking a balance with the junk food:
- Feed your children really well before the big visit. The week before our families arrive, I really limit the treats for my kids.
- Explain your reasoning to your parents. I think our generation is more knowledgeable than ever about how the right foods can positively affect our children. Once your parents understand that you’re trying to do what’s right by your children, they may be more respectful of your requests.
- Decide what you’ll let slide and what you won’t. I’m OK with my kids going to the ice cream shop with grandma after lunch, but I’m not OK with candy for breakfast followed by a hot chocolate chaser. (This actually did happen!) So we’ve politely tried to give them the heads-up on what’s OK and what’s not.
- Be prepared to meet in the middle. I’ve had to let some of it go, but all of our parents have been more respectful since we’ve spoken with them-even if they are snickering behind our backs. So now when the grandparents come to watch the kids, I do my best to fill the fridge with healthy meals and snacks, then I try my best to roll with the treats. And I always remember to toast the grandparents as my husband and I are out on a date night or weekend away, thanks to them!
For a fun recipe to try before the grandparents arrive (and one of the few salads my kids really love), try this Chopped Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing.
Amanda Haas is a cookbook author, teacher, cooking video host, and the founder of One Family One Meal, a website that helps families menu plan, grocery shop, and cook on a budget. She's also on Twitter and Facebook.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.