Thursday, September 24, 2015

Veggie Time

I am so super grateful that the twins aren't picky eaters. Of course they have their favorite foods and I have to bribe them with applesauce to get them to finish their dinner, but all in all they do pretty well. Charlie is a bit more resistant to vegetables than I would like, though, and Caroline is a bit of a treat-aholic. So I've been trying a few strategies lately to get them to eat more veggies and I've found a few that have worked really well for us!
  1. Cook veggies into rice. My kids LOVE rice. Especially Char. So a couple of times a week I pull out every vegetable in my fridge, chop them up, sauté them in olive oil then add some rice and chicken broth and bake it until it's soft. Usually it ends up that the veggie to rice ratio is about 3-1, seriously packed with some vegetable goodness. And the kids gobble it up! Charlie averages about 3 bowls of rice each time I make it. I can throw any veggie into it that he would normally gag on and he downs it anyway. Some of my favorite add-ins are squash, mushrooms, celery, eggplant, tomatoes, and carrots. But really, anything goes and it's always delish.
  2. Cut out pre-dinner snacks. While I'm making dinner, the kids are usually running around destroying the house, sitting on the baby, or pulling one another's hair. One way I used to help tame the madness was to give them applesauce, crackers, goldfish etc. to keep them occupied while I cooked. And then, surprise! They weren't hungry for dinner. At least not hungry enough to eat the vegetables on their plate. Now, I try to offer them bites of the veggies I am cutting up and using for our meal. Surprisingly, I have found that they love raw potato, zucchini, and cucumber. I don't mind letting them snack before dinner if it's on vegetables that are going to be on their plate anyway!
  3. Serve the vegetables first. I used to try to put everything on their plate at once and cross my fingers and hope that they would eat their vegetables. Usually, though, they go right for the fruit, grains and dairy (and sometimes the meat) and the veggies get thrown on the ground. When they haven't snacked before dinner, though, and sit down super hungry, it's the perfect time to throw a plate filled with colorful and delicious vegetables down in front of them. The clean their plates nearly every time. Success!
  4. If I don't get the vegetables to them before the rest of the meal, then they have started responding well to bribery, as I mentioned before. Not bribing with sweets or candy or cake or anything, but bribing with something that I'm ok with them eating more of. Example: the other day we had a fruit salad with our dinner. I put everything on their plate, and they ate the fruit salad first, followed by the rest of the meal but leaving some vegetables on their plate. When they inevitably ask for more fruit, it has worked well for us to say "You can definitely have more fruit, you just have to finish your vegetables first." It took a few tries to make it work. Usually Charlie is super eager and so he finishes his vegetables and gets more fruit right away, and Caroline looks longingly at the fruit before finally deciding it's worth eating the vegetables for. We have had so much less food wasted with this tactic!
Clearly I'm no expert. But this is what has been working for us lately. And as an added bonus, when I'm focused on making sure my kids get plenty of vegetables, I eat more too! Anybody want to share any other secrets to getting toddlers to eat more vegetables?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

So long, 7:00 bedtime.

Charlie started climbing out of his crib when he was 17 months old. He didn't just climb out once and then not do it again, like a lot of kids do. Once he figured out he could escape there was no keeping him in. So we promptly took the bottom out of his crib and put his mattress flat on the ground to buy us a few more inches and a little more time. That worked for a couple of months until he figured out that he could tip his entire crib over and use the slats as monkey-bars. By the time he had that down, Caroline had finally gotten brave enough to climb out of her crib on a consistent basis. They were about 20 months old at this point. So we heeded the advice of some friends with much older twins and turned their cribs upside down on top of them like cages. At naptime and bedtime we would lift one side of the crib up off the ground, they would get on hands and knees and climb right in. It wasn't a perfect solution but it at least kept the madness contained to their cages. That lasted until just before they turned 2.

One day we had the brilliant idea to try out toddler beds. Sheer genius, I tell you (insert eye roll here). The first night we were completely shocked that they actually stayed in their beds. I thought it was going to be perfect and wonderful and way better than cages. I couldn't have been more wrong! It didn't take long for them to start getting out of bed. And pull every single article of clothing out of their drawers. And try on every single sock and every single shoe. And try fit six bowties around their waist at a time. Every time I entered their room, there was no floor to be seen.

But at least the mess was contained. Their room only. I could live with that. And then they figured out how to open doors. The dreaded day of days. I woke up at 4:30 AM with a tiny little finger (not mine) stuck up my nose. Good thing I had doorknob covers in stock and ready to pull out when needed. It took Charlie less that a day to figure out how to break them off the doorknobs (on Caroline's bidding, probably. I always say she is the brains and he is the muscle). For over a week they woke up between 4:30 and 5:30 AM. If there is one good thing about that, though, it is that it made me really appreciate their standard 7:30 AM wakeup time, which I used to think was far too early for little humans to be up and roaming around.

We passed the super early wake-up phase, thank heavens. And now we are stuck in the "never going to sleep" era. Oh how I miss those days of putting them down at 7:00 and knowing they would be asleep before long. I used to really look forward to bedtime. And now I dread it. Dread with a capital D. Caroline wants the light on so she can read. Charlie hates the light on but wants the door open with the hall light on. Caroline doesn't like the door open and keeps getting up to shut it. Charlie wants his bear to sit up next to him in bed but his bear keeps falling over, because it's stuffed and stuffed bears don't sit up very well. And when stuffed bears don't sit up very well, that's cause for many many tears in our house. Caroline demands that every single book in sight be on her bed. But then she can't lay down because the books are taking up the entire surface area of her bed. And heaven forbid you take the books out of the room. She NEEDS her books. If there is even a single book on top of the dresser, you'd better believe she will be found standing in one of the drawers trying to climb onto the top of the dresser to get it down and safely into her bed with the other books. Charlie has at least eight blue blankies. And try as I might to hide all but one or two of them in the dresser, he goes to bed with a couple of them and cries and cries that he needs "mo' blankies." He would steal Caroline's in a heart beat if she'd let him.

You get the gist. Lots of tears and bedtime. And when there aren't tears, there are giggles. I love giggles. But giggles are now an indication that somebody is out of bed and running around the room with a bare bum and yelling "nakey nakey!". How do you even get mad about that? Especially when accompanying the bare bum are a pair of blue dinosaur rain boots and the cutest little head of white hair you've ever seen?

Long story short, our 7:00 bedtime has turned into 7:00 bedtime that doesn't actually end until 9:30. I'm not too hopeful that it will get better anytime soon!