Observations for Families with School-Aged Kids

Today is the first day of Summer Break in our house. The first day of kids in the house all day…aaaalllll daaaaay… and it also marks a change in our shopping and eating habits. (We also have an added challenge as we try a dairy/gluten/processed food free summer with the kids). Here are some observations about how I adjust for the dog days:

1. You cannot keep enough fruit in the house. We just plan on a mid-week trip to Ken’s Fruit Market every week.

2. If you do not cut up the raw vegetables, they will not get eaten. Having peanut butter & hummus available helps as well.

3. Eggs: If you boil them they will disappear, but you will be picking up piles of egg shells all over the place. I’m in the camp that unless you have very special dietary issues, dietary cholesterol can basically be ignored, so eggs are a great protein snack during the day.

4. In general, we have a list of foods the kids can eat (in moderation) without asking permission, until an hour or so before dinner. We believe it has helped preserve what little sanity we still have left.

5. Take advantage of a later bed time by pushing dinner back an hour. I love having a little more time for dinner prep, maybe including the kids a little more, and a more leisurely time at the grill…Summer is the perfect time to really practice SLOWING DOWN, and enjoying your time together.

6. Take advantage of the local growing season to try new vegetables. They are never going to be any tastier than they are now. For instance, I just saw a really simple technique for Caramelized Endive that I’m excited to try! (Cue Wife’s eyes rolling).

7. Speaking of local growing…get the family out to a local farmer’s market – or even better, a local farm! Confession time: I wish I was the kind of guy that religiously visited farmer’s markets. I really do. It seems so romantic and Americana…but between my kids lack of vegetable appreciation and my lack of patience, reality rarely lives up to the dream. But at least a few times in the Summer, I want my kids to meet the farmers, see heirloom varieties, and smell the dirt that is still on the crates. Anything that keeps the kids closer to the earth is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

8. Make the Summer a regular celebration! When the asparagus came in, we celebrated! As the strawberries come in, we celebrate, when the blueberries come in, we will celebrate… tomatoes, corn, watermelon…all the way to the apples & pumpkins in the fall. My wife loves to take the kids picking. I love that she loves to do it so I don’t have to.

9. Celebration doesn’t have to = 3000+ calorie meals! Keep it simple, let the food talk, and if you’re still hungry, eat another piece of fruit…not another bratwurst. Contrary to everything I was taught growing up, not every celebration has to end with, “I’m so full…I guess I’ll just have ice cream to fill in the cracks…” (Cue paperwork being submitted to have me disowned).

10. Finally, these days may be long…but this season will be short. My word for this year is “savor.” If you want to make your Summer more meaningful, resist the urge to cram more stuff into each moment. Instead, try to stay present in the moments you have. Stretch them out. Slow them down. Put one more log on the fire. Say “yes” when you’re tempted to say “no.” And remember, just when you are about ready to raise the white flag, school will be here to rescue us again.