Have you heard about snack plates? I’ve been using them for years to pacify the ‘littles’ in our family and to save myself time and decrease distractions. Recently Ben, who is almost six, came and asked his grandpa for a snack plate. Ben has had them his whole life and this is how he feels about them. When his grandpa said, “Sure, Ben” he responded with, “I can’t wait to see what you give me.” He had a wide smile and an air of breathless anticipation. Now, remember that Ben has been getting these all of his life and he was still excited to have a snack plate.
In a family we have to deal with the day to day effort to feed, cloth, clean up after, minister to and create relationships with our children. Add to that the importance of finding time for ourselves. It can all be a BIG challenge. A snack plate is a little tick that my husband developed which, over the years, has helped us calm kids, feed little tummies and get some peaceful moments for ourselves.
When my oldest daughter was expecting her fourth child she needed some help. She was having a hard time keeping up with everything. One of the big struggles was keeping Jack, aged 4 and Mary, aged 2, fed. Because they were little, they didn’t eat much at a meal and they wanted something to eat every couple of hours in between. That’s how it is with little kids. (My pediatrician said that small children eat about 1 tablespoon of food, per meal, per year of age, after they turn one. Many of you know that is soooo true!)
Don, my husband, responded to Jodie’s need in this way. Each morning we would cut up vegetables, fruit, meat, such as salami or pepperoni, olives, crackers, cheese, etc and store it in airtight containers. Then Don would drive them over to our daughters home and throughout the day she would make snack plates. Each plate would have an assortment of goodies on it and would be placed on a flat surface at child height. Then the children could help themselves as needed. Each plate would last a couple of hours. That would get them through from breakfast to lunch and then again from lunch to dinner. It was perfect.
That was almost six years ago and we’ve been using snack plates ever since. When I visit my grandchildren in Seattle we’ve made snack plates. When we visit our grandchildren in Colorado we’ve made snack plates. However, they aren’t the same as when grandpa put this tradition into play. Now we just grab whatever is handiest – raisins, nuts, boiled eggs, buttered bread, fruit, etc. We don’t have the fixins prepared ahead and we don’t spend much time in the process. The goal is to bring joy, keep kids fed and to find ourselves a bit of free time. : )
If you have kids under ten then this is something worth trying. I think you will like how it works and I know your kids will like how it works.
Here are some examples of what snack plates look like in our home.
I would be interested in knowing how you handle the snackers in your home. : ) Leave me a comment and let me know.
P.S. You will find more fun tips in my new book Becoming a Present Parent, Connecting With Your Children in Five Minutes or Less. You can also receive a FREE chapter on Touchpoints, creating points of connection rather than having points of contention, by visiting becomingapresentparent.com It can be life-changing for your family. I promise!
I love this idea so much for my 8 and unders…. But I’m laughing thinking about my teenage boys inhaling the snack plate instantly. Ill have to try and dry some boundaries. Ha ha ha. Any tips on feeding the youngers and keeping out the wolves?
Leah, you made me laugh and you are correct – this is definitely a tip for our 8/9 and unders. As for keeping out the wolves, yup I have a thought. Have one of those mini-conversations. Explain your tactic and that for them, it is hands off. In fact, why not recruit them. Ask them to be willing to create snack plates for the littles and while they are doing it make themselves a BIG sandwich. Good luck and why not let us know how it goes.