Setting up a snack station has honestly been one of the best things I’ve done in my single parent journey. I definitely could have and should have started it sooner. This is something that doesn’t seem like it would be all that revolutionary but it honestly has changed the game for both my son and I.
The Snack Station is a shelf in the pantry that is within my son’s reach. Every grocery shopping trip I buy easy snacks that he can eat himself. I would load it up with snack bars, juice boxes, etc. It would be things that I wouldn’t normally buy and would be there as a treat.
The first few months didn’t go as well as I would’ve liked. Axel would sneak snacks all day long and would go through snacks within the first few days. But I told him that once they were gone, they’re gone until I go shopping again. It made for a very unhappy child and momma. But after a bit of time, he learned that snacks weren’t going to magically appear once he ate them all. He learned that he needed to pace himself and to make sure he saved snacks for special occasions.
This is something that was very important to me for him to learn. I grew up always having an issue with food. Eating way too much or not enough. Giving Axel the ability to choose his snacks as well as him learning not to eat everything right away is giving him skills that he can grow on. It also taught him discipline – even though he wants to eat them all, he knows he needs to ask first.
For me – this has been a huge help. For all the mommas out there, you know that kids only ask you for a snack when you sit down to relax or start a project. This way he can grab one himself as soon as he has permission. I don’t have to worry about him changing his mind every time I grab him one, and he feels like a big kid because he gets to grab it himself.
On his shelf in the pantry there’s a small bin and on the side is where I put containers of coconut water. That is specifically for after his wrestling practice as it contains electrolytes and is amazingly hydrating. So he knows that if he wants those for practice, he won’t take them.
After going grocery shopping, I portion out as much as I can into baggies. Things like sweet potato crackers and trail mix make for super easy snacks. Plus he can’t eat them all in one sitting when they’re portioned out. As a treat I’ll occasionally buy him juice boxes and they go in there as well. Those are for snacks when he goes to the daycare in the gym or we go out to play at the park.
I also put dried fruit, bananas, and anything I have on hand that’s safe for him to handle himself in his snack station.
It is Axel’s responsibility to grab snacks for wrestling, day care, or any other time we leave. If he chooses not to grab one and then decides he’s hungry later, that’s his own fault. That has only had to happen a couple of times, now he doesn’t even throw a fit anymore.
This is an excellent parenting hack because not only is it helping me not have to get up to get him food, but he’s learning several lessons and branching out into independence. He’s learning valuable skills and it gives him a chance to make choices, which is something kids don’t get very much of.
This is also easily adapted to what we need as adults. So many of us struggle with our habit of snacking without really paying attention. Create a snack station for yourself and become disciplined about it. Once it’s gone, there are no more snacks until then next shopping trip. I have my own version of this and I’m still working on it – but knowing that I have to set an example for my son has really helped to keep me from snacking as bad as I used to.
What parenting hacks have you found to help with the snacking debacle?