This Easy 3 Magic Ingredient Snack Solves After School Angst
by Susie E. Caron © 2/8/15
The hours after school and prior to dinner are some of the most difficult for both kids and adults. Everyone comes home tired, hungry, and emptied-out from the day. This results in crankiness, and arguments. Parents rush around trying to get a few more errands or chores done. Kids grab a few crackers, cookies, and soda or they ‘just wait’ because dinner will be served ‘soon’. Crankiness and arguing cause a lot of unnecessary stress and unhappiness in the family. Most parents wish they had a simple solution for this problem. They ask me, "How can I make after school times easier for us all?
Before I answer that, you need to know the most common reason for afternoon angst: by late afternoon there is a significant drop in everyone’s blood sugar levels. This means thinking is more difficult, feelings are raw and no one is very agreeable. However, usually after dinner everyone seems to feel better. Parents are often puzzled about this because their kids ‘had a snack’ so what's the difference?
For a snack to work, and to adequately improve blood sugar levels and moods, it must provide three essential ingredients (described below). Provide this snack as soon as kids hang up their belongings and wash their hands and you will begin to see the benefits. This magic 3 ingredient snack is nutritional enough that it won’t spoil dinner and can be an early part of dinner. For best results it’s important to develop this as an ongoing pattern for everyday, healthy, mid-afternoon snacks.
Here a way to set this new pattern in place.
Plan and prepare ahead this pattern for a colorful, healthy snack that includes something chewy, something sweet and some form of protein. (See below.) You may package these in baggies or plastic containers the evening before. If you arrive home before the kids make certain it is already out in plain sight. As they arrive greet them at the door and usher them through hanging up book bags, taking off outerwear, going to the bathroom and washing hands. (Don’t just tell them to do it. Walk them through it excitedly! Act like it's fun and as though they don’t have a choice. They'll go along with you because but you are being very funny and pleasant.) If kids come home before you arrive, make certain they know where you have stored the snack for that afternoon then join them when you can.
Whenever possible, it’s really great if you sit with them to eat, or drink your tea or coffee. Let them talk to you, but don’t pump them with questions. If they begin to complain, whine, or argue, tell them politely, "We will talk all about that in a little while. Right now we are just having snack together.
If this snack is presented the moment they arrive, they will gobble it up, because it’s the first thing they see. They will get some good nutrition, their blood sugar won't drop, and you'll get some good quality time with them. After they eat, they can go begin their homework or play. You'll discover then that they aren't fighting and getting into your space while you are cooking dinner. It is truly a 'win - win' for everyone.
Here are the 3 magic ingredients to include in every afternoon snack.
1. Something chewy: Celery, Carrot sticks, pickles, sliced apple or orange wedges. (Chewy foods make kids eat more slowly and that gives the next two items a chance to take effect.)
2. Something naturally Sweet: Raisens. Grapes, Craisens, Fruit Role Ups. 100% fruit juice. (Good natural sugar travels quickly into their blood stream and avoids the grumpies or melt downs.)
3. Some form of Protein: Peanut butter, string cheese, beef jerky, nuts & seeds. (Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep blood sugar from suddenly dropping again before dinner.)
By establishing this pattern of after school, healthy, fun, snacks and adding yourself whenever possible, you will set the tone for more pleasant afternoons and evenings with your kids.
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Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!