As a mom, I feel like most of my life is spent preparing, serving, and then cleaning up meals. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and possible bedtime snack. It never ends!!
When I was a kid, I didn't get snacks. We ate dinner at 5:00pm precisely, therefore, an after-school snack wasn't necessary. Yes, we were starving by the time we ate dinner, but that's the point, isn't it? Then you actually eat what you're supposed to! Of course, during school we had a small snack at recess time, an apple, or a cookie, and in the summer, I'm sure we must have had a snack in the mid-afternoon, although it was almost always a piece of fruit, or a fruit-juice popsicle.
But I NEVER had to have a morning snack, or a bedtime snack. It was my mother's thinking that if we were still hungry at bedtime, that's too bad, we should have eaten our dinner!
Why is it that kids these days have to eat constantly? I never even heard of a morning snack until I started into my career in childcare.
As a home childcare provider now, I feel obliged to give the kids these snacks, but I know that if it were my own child home alone, we wouldn't be having them. On the weekends, the only reason we might have a snack is if the meal time is going to be delayed for some reason. I will confess that sometimes, I don't give the kids a snack at all (the ones I look after). They are busy playing, having fun, and it gets past the usual snacktime. Then I figure, oh well, maybe they'll all have hungry tummys for dinner tonight. I think a lot of it has to do with poor planning on the parents' part (not planning enough to have a meal ready in short time when arriving home from work) and also the fact that most parents give in to their children too much these days. They are afraid to say no, and have to listen to whining. Especially when it comes to food. Who wouldn't want a yummy chocolate chip granola bar instead of waiting 20 more minutes for a plate full of healthy meat and veg?
I've learned that yes, young children need food more frequently, as I look after a variety of ages. But as they get older, I don't think they need as much. I know this totally goes against what all the dieticians say - more frequent, smaller meals is best - and I don't want anyone to think I'm offering advice, just my opinion. I don't even expect anyone to agree with it, it's just something I needed to say.
That being said, I really think that we should all be giving up the granola bars and crackers and going for the fruit and vegs instead. And I also think that we shouldn't be giving kids a snack simply because it's scheduled in. There is something gratifying in feeling true hunger, and waiting a few more minutes to tuck into a satisfying, healthy meal. Shouldn't we be teaching our kids that? Not calling kids away from their activities to snack around the clock. It's no wonder childhood obesity rates are rising.