How many minutes till snack time?? Feeding hungry kids after school.


What do you feed your kids when they walk through the door?

(Or do you feed them at all?)

I admit, this is one of my weaknesses as a parent.  One of the things I’m really not so good at.

Maybe you’re better than me at this (if so, I want to hear from you in the comments!), but perhaps the thing I’m worst at, as a parent, is feeding starving kids – my own.

When they walk in the door after school, they’re famished.  Not literally starving, as I’ve told them many times.  But they are very, very hungry.

Worse still is that they usually don’t realize it yet.  They don’t feel hungry – but they are.

Up until now, we (their parents) have been bad about realizing it, too, because they get decent lunches and snacks to eat AT school.  So we figured they couldn’t really be hungry.

But they are.

Here’s the way the afternoon goes if I don’t have something for them to eat the second they walk through the door:

  1. Unpack school bags, wash up, change (um, occasionally into nakedness, for one kid who hates clothes), play
  2. Wander in looking for snack
  3. Refuse healthy snack, demand junky snack
  4. Eventually accept healthy snack (or parent caves and gives junky snack)
  5. Play
  6. Get crabby; start smacking and bickering
  7. Wander in looking for snack
  8. (Lather, rinse, repeat, steps 3-7 until suppertime)

This has spiralled downward into a terrible situation where the kids are bickering, fighty and crabby for the better part of every single afternoon.

How have we gotten to this point?

  • Part of the problem is our insistence on staying on a North American schedule, eating our main meal around 6-6:30 pm.  That is TOO late.
  • Part of the problem is the short school day in Israel.  Kids get home at 1-2 pm.  That’s a long time ‘till supper.
  • Part of the problem is that the main “lunch break” in their school day is at 10 am.  That’s a waaaay long time ‘till supper.
  • Part of the problem is that we homeschooled for years and the kids had real food at lunch every day.

Whatever the problem, we’re still thinking up solutions, and I’d love your help.

Apparently, the other kids in our kids’ classes are force-fed some type of meatballs or schnitzel every day when they get home from school.  I don’t want meat to be on the menu every single day, but it’s a good concept, in theory.

The default around here is rice.  Just like an Asian mama, I sometimes make a big pot of it to keep around and whoever’s hungry can help themselves (last week, I stirred some black beans in – it was delicious!).  But my kids get sick of rice far more easily than Asian kids, so we need some good alternatives.

Today, having gotten a little more sleep than usual, I’m making a nice mixed-veggie soup.  Not pureed this time; one of my kids once complained that ALL our soups were pureed, and that he wouldn’t mind some texture once in a while.  He totally had a point, and I’ve tried to serve “lumpy” veggie-full soups regularly since then.

Part of the solution, I’m sure, is getting out of the “snack” mindset altogether.  If you’re hungry, have a meal. 

It’s okay to leave out healthy things for snacking between meals, like carrot sticks, which everybody will say no to, but which will vanish if you leave them on the table in a bowl.  But if kids are regularly hungry at the same time every day, something tells me that’s when their meal time is supposed to be.

Let me know what your family does -- I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה
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  1. for Israelis, the 10:00 meal is considered breakfast, not lunch. they eat the main meal (meat or not) at 14:00, when the kids get home from school. and then a light supper at 19:00. i think it would be very hard for the kids to survive on "snacks" until 18:00.


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