Surviving the summer holiday

Eating out with kids

Can’t wait for the summer and your get away but wondering what on earth your children are going to make of the food on offer?

Fear not, I’ve got some top tips to help you enjoy your summer and not let the food stresses ruin your holiday.

Under pressure

It’s been a while since many of us have been able to have a proper holiday. This summer is our first chance to really let loose. We can put ourselves under immense pressure to create the perfect experience for our family and even more so when it’s something we haven’t been able to do for a while or when it is a family first.

We can too easily set ourselves up for a fall and disappointment so let’s start right by reducing that pressure for the perfect holiday and lowering our expectations. That way we can enjoy the moment and quickly move on from the moments that don’t go so well.

Taking the pressure off at mealtimes is particularly important, whether or not we’re on holiday, as this is what allows us to be calm at the table, to bring joy and pleasure to the experience, to take the scariness away from new and unfamiliar foods as well as create the right environment for our children to support them to explore food.

Our mealtime responsibilities

Learning to like food is challenging for children. Add to that the stresses of being in a strange place, out of routine, surrounded by people and voices they don’t recognise, new foods or the same foods cooked in a different way, and this can be the cause of a lot of anxiety for them.

If we can be understanding, provide food regularly and allow our children to decide what and how much they eat when it is offered, we can support them better to enjoy the holiday (and enjoy it more ourselves as a result).

Routine goes out of the window

Summer arrives and all routine goes out of the window. It’s too light to sleep. It’s too hot to eat anything other than ice cream. It’s too lovely to stay home to eat at normal mealtimes. It’s too tempting to stay out and play in the park. It’s too scary to eat the food on offer.

And on holiday, that’s OK. If you have established a meal and snack schedule for your children, as I suggest to almost every family I work with, then once you’re back into your normal routine, you’ll be able to slip right back into it.

Whilst on holiday though, and your child is struggling to eat well, then you need to ditch the schedule and allow them to focus on what they need, are comfortable eating and when. Have familiar and sustaining snacks as well as favourite fruits or vegetables with you for them to access when requested.

Plan some down time into your day so your child can recover, settle down and hopefully eat something more substantial. If you’re away on holiday, you might consider eating out for two meals and having a ‘picnic’ meal at your accommodation.

Focus on the joy of mealtimes

Likelihood is, if they’re struggling with the food, they’re not going to be eating well when you’re at a restaurant but with a regular supply of snacks in them, they are going to be better able to cope with sitting with you whilst you eat so you can enjoy your meal so much more.

Saying the magic words “you don’t have to eat it” will allow your child to explore in their own time, perhaps nibbling on some bread or taking little bits of your meal.

Focussing on having fun at mealtimes and making them a sociable affair helps take the pressure off children to eat. Being away from home, there’ll be lots of new sights and sounds to provide entertainment and start conversations or quiet games.

Encourage your child to order their own drink, ask for the bill or pay and this can help entertain them and keep them in their seat whilst they wait to do their job.

Cheers!

Encouraging children to drink is hard at the best of times but is particularly important when they’re more active and the weather is warmer.

Whilst water is the best drink for them, you might need to help them keep their fluid intake up in other ways. A straw can help them to drink more and sucking on ice cubes is fun and a sneaky way to get liquid in. Freshly squeezed orange juice or smoothies can be helpful in getting them to drink more but also provide some energy and fibre.

Wishing you a happy and stress-free summer of food!