Here’s a scenario that used to happen every weekday until recently when I changed a few things:
My 12-year-old son gets off the bus, drags himself, his backpack and his trumpet inside, then he practically runs to the kitchen, opens the cabinet door and refrigerator doors almost simultaneously and pulls out the filtered water (I’m lucky he loves water, I know!) and a Kashi cereal bar and grabs a handful of grapes. Then he collapses into a chair and starts eating like he hasn’t eaten in days. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? He’s starving by the time he gets home from school!
Since many kids are eating their lunch at school quite early, it’s no wonder they come home hungry. My 5-year-old eats lunch at 10:56 in the morning so I don’t blame her for coming home from school hungry. But you don’t want them eating too much which may ruin their appetite for dinner, especially if your normal dinner time is within just an hour or so of them coming home from school. Consider your child’s own schedule and adjust accordingly. Remember, just because another parent sets snack time at 3:30 doesn’t mean you have to as well. Talk to your child and watch their behavior to find a time that is right for them.
Have your snacks ready and cut up for your kids to grab when they come in from school. When my 5-year-old gets home from school and wants a snack, she’s often too tired child to want to cut up or fix her snack- she just wants to grab what she can quickly, have a seat at her little table and chow down.
Tip: Have the snacks visible in the fridge or on the table for easy access. Make sure your child knows what he or she is permitted to eat as a snack, so they don’t try to sneak in something that is bad for them. Offer a few alternatives so they feel they have a say in the matter, as well.
Choose healthy snacks that aren’t too filling, but will stave off the after-school munchies until a proper dinner can be served. My 5-year-old is pretty good about choosing a healthy snack but my 12-year-old; not so much. That’s why the first tip is an important for me.
Tip: Cut up carrots, celery, broccoli and cauliflower can be arranged with some low-fat dip. Apples, oranges, bananas and other fresh fruit can be set out, or cut up a fresh bowl of fruit salad for your kids to grab. Trail mix, assorted nuts, whole-grain pretzels and cereals, peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwiches, and a variety of crackers and cheeses are also excellent choices. And remember, stick to healthy drink options, such as low-fat milk or water. Kids do not need sugary sodas and juices to drink, especially on a daily basis. For a fun change, offer sparkling flavored water in a variety of flavors that your kids will enjoy.
Finally, talk to your kids about what they enjoy as a snack, and offer them different ideas for snack foods. When kids feel involved in their choices, they are more likely to pick what is best for them. A healthy snack makes for healthy kids, so take the time to find out what they like!
Oh, and one more tip. Always have your kids wash their hands before eating their afterschool snack!
Here’s to yummy, stress-free, afterschool snacks!
Here are a few great snack ideas that you can prepare while your kids are in school and have ready for them when they get home:
- Orange Cranberry Muffins (recipe source: parenting.com)
- 25 after school snacks from Snack Girl (source: snack-girl.com)
- Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (recipe source: mealmakeovermoms.com)