When my son was in nursery school, I dreaded holidays. It sounds horrible, but I knew I was going to have a sugar-induced child who I wouldn’t recognize on my hands. All of us parents would complain amongst ourselves about the list of items the school would give us to sign up to bring. It usually included brownies, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies and donuts among other things. There is no way any child should eat all of those things at one party. So, what should parents do?
First of all, stop complaining amongst yourselves. Well, not exactly—if you know other parents are unhappy with the over-sugaring of their children, then there is power in numbers. I recommend taking your concerns to the teacher. In addition, it might help to have some healthier alternatives to recommend. I’m a firm believer in offering a fix if you have a complaint. Following are some healthier snacks that don’t contain tons of artificial ingredients and dyes that are just as fun for kids, but so much better for them.
- Fresh fruit (preferably organic). What kid doesn’t like fruit? If my kids had to pick a favorite snack it would be blueberries, strawberries or bananas. Most kids like fruit, and it’s a nice choice for them to have at a party. If you want to make the fruit snack really fun, then you could put them on a skewer, like the ones listed on the Parents.com article about the 20 best snacks for kids.
- Banana muffins/Banana bread. Inevitably, a banana or two will become over-ripe before your kids have a chance to eat them. I take those bananas and keep them in the freezer until I have enough to make banana bread. Remember that substituting organic ingredients (that you already have in your cupboards) is a great way to make for an even healthier snack.
- Yogurt Pops. This is a great treat you can make the night before your child’s party. Just make sure you have a cooler to bring it to school in if you have far to go (and that the school has a freezer). It’s a pretty simple recipe, and most kids love yogurt. Additionally, it’s a great healthy alternative to regular ice pops.
- Oatmeal Cookies. I found a nice recipe for oatmeal cookies which have just the perfect amount of sweetness for kids. The recipe comes from Bob’s Red Mill, and the important thing to remember is that your cookies will be as natural and healthy as the ingredients you put in them.
Of course, a lot of parents don’t have time to make snacks for the school party. There are some great snacks that you can pick up at the store that are ready to go and will still leave your kids behaving in a way you’d like (ie. not bouncing off the walls, crying for no reason, etc.). Some ideas include: Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies, Clif Kid Z bars, Annie’s Homegrown Organic fruit snacks and Luna Mini S’mores.
My last piece of advice is to not be afraid to share your healthy snack ideas with other parents. You might find them relieved to find a way to let their kids celebrate without overdoing it on the sugars, sweets and other foods that make our children behave like people we hardly recognize. Sometimes all it takes is a list with a thoughtfully written letter. I like to say something like, “I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for healthy and tasty snacks my kids will love. I wanted to share some that I’ve come across…” I would then conclude by saying, “I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you have any healthy snack suggestions, I would love to hear them.” Good luck on making it through the holiday parties at school!