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How to face the Easter “sweets challenge”

How to face the Easter "sweets challenge"It’s the same every year: as a mom of two preschoolers, I have to face the “sweets challenge” three times a year: on Halloween, at Christmas, and now at Easter. It’s not that I maintain a zero tolerance for sweets. No, I don’t believe in complete abstinence. What I advocate is moderation. After all, I have to watch out for my children’s health. But these 3 big annual holidays can really put our family sweets policy to the test.

As soon as Valentine’s Day is over, the Easter treats pop up in shops an supermarket, never mind that the snow outside is still knee deep. For kids and adults alike, the Easter temptations can be too much. Since February, my twin 5-year old would be “ooohing” and “aaahing” and “wowing” at the Easter display in the supermarket. Sometimes their wistful looks can almost break my resolution not to purchase anything. “It’s too early“, I’d tell them. “You’ll get your Easter treats soon enough.” And that’s the truth. Because I know that come the long Easter weekend (Friday and Monday are public holidays in most of Europe), we’ll be visiting family and relatives in Germany who will shower them with sweet surprises from the seemingly ubiquitous Easter bunny. During the last three years, I never bought any Easter sweets for them because I know they would get more than enough.

I am preparing myself for next week’s “sweets challenge” but the challenge came rather early and closer to home than expected. Yesterday, our cleaning lady, who’s taking the next two weeks off, delivered two Easter baskets for my boys, with chocolates of all Easter shapes – eggs, bunnies, chicks, etc. It’s really very sweet of her and my boys were just so overwhelmed with joy.

Mind you, I don’t want to be such as spoil sports but how would you handle the “sweets challenge”?

    Refuse or accept the present?
    A friend of mine would never accept any sweet present for her daughter. No exceptions. I find this a bit too hard both to the kids and to the giver. I and my kids would graciously accept and say “Thank you” but I, mom, have to hold the sweets for rationing. No binge eating is allowed but unless there is a major health issue involved, a little treat can’t hurt.
    I would tell my kids “these sweets are yours but you can’t eat them all in one go.” The rule is one little sweet per day as dessert. If it’s a big chocolate, half should be enough. They are happy with this arrangement so far. They don’t feel deprived. I have the feeling that for them possession is more important than consumption. Eventually, after a week or two, they’ll forget or get sick of the sweets and I am not one to remind them. After a month or two, we would see that the sweets would have dried up and with their blessings, the sweets would end up in the rubbish bin. The point is, it’s their sweets so never throw them away without asking permission. It’s all about respect.
    Talk to family members and relatives.
    I and my husband told Grandma and Great-grandma and Auntie right from the start that giving sweets should be limited. However, we also believe in making exceptions and that’s on special occasions. Even then we emphasize on moderation.
    As soon as they are big enough, kids should know why some food stuffs are healthy and some are not. Don’t start with complicated stuff like blood glucose, trans-fats and sodium. Talk about sweet, fatty, or salty. It’s much easier for me this time because last March was Nutrition Month at preschool. A nutritionist came over for a talk and the kids were even taught how to look at food labels to check how much sugar is in there! And they were happily surprised that the “food lady” told them exactly the same things as mommy did.
    Enjoy while it lasts.
    What a pleasure to see children’s happy and joyful faces when receiving little gifts or finding a chocolate egg in the garden. These are the years when they should enjoy the magic and mystic of rituals such as Easter. And we adults should enjoy the kids’ joy. In a couple of years, all these would be passé for fast-growing kids and we will have to wait for another generation before we can experience this joy again.

My point is this: Easter can present health-conscious parents a challenge but with planning, fair play, and open-mindedness, the “sweets challenge” can easily be overcome without taking the fun out of Easter.

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