Tell us a bit about yourself, how many kids do you have? What is your household like?
Hi there, my name is Nikkie and I live downtown Toronto with my wonderful husband Nigel, my two children, Collins (4 yrs.) and Lennon (3 yrs.) and baby #3 is on the way, due this month! I run a tight ship over here so we keep to routine as much as possible and we have many rules of the house. We have also started having our kids contribute to things around the house such as making their own beds and putting their laundry away and such. Some may say they are too young for this, but I know the bed will not be the way I would do it, and my nicely folded clothes will probably not be so nice anymore, but just getting them into habits and responsibilities is so important in my opinion.
Can you describe your philosophy on parenting?
I would say I definitely lean towards more of rule-oriented environment. I have learned to pick my battles with the kids to keep things somewhat sane around here. Some may say I parent the “old fashioned way” but I feel like I was raised in a certain way and turned out fine so I have a hard time with the rules of parenting today. It is definitely known in our house, that I am the parent and they are the children. I make the rules and they follow them. Its simple. I don’t want to get too authoritarian, so they a) don’t rebel and b) feel like they can’t come to me for anything. Finding the balance is what I am trying to accomplish and as they get older, we will have to adjust accordingly.
How do you manage your family? Are there specific ideals you value?
I feel that kids like and respond to routine better, even if they do put up a fight once in a while. In the long-term, they will appreciate it. Even those days I say ” lets stay up late and watch a movie” the next day, they are tired, moody and just over-all unhappy. If I stick to my 7pm bedtime, they may fight it in the moment, but they wake up happier, more energetic and our days run way more smoothly. My biggest thing that we always talk about and encourage, would have to be RESPECT. If they don’t respect me, then I won’t respect them. Its about mutual respect and no matter the situation, or where they, I have taught and will continue to teach the importance or respect.
What are your 5 pantry essentials?
There are times that I try and buy new items from the grocery store but at the end of the day, my kids like what they like. Every morning, my kids have a Yogurt Drink and an un-sweetened Apple Sauce. So those two items are stocked all the time. They also love love love, crackers. So our pantry is fully stocked with boxes and boxes of crackers. They make an awful mess every time they go for the crackers, but that’s one battle I just don’t bother with anymore. APPLES! Anyone else’s kids as obsessed with apples as mine? I buy them by the bags and every week they eat every last one of them. I make it super easy by washing them all and putting them in the fridge drawer, where they can grab one whenever they want. I think its important to have fruit and vegetables accessible. It allows the kids to have some independence, and if they are all washed and ready to go, it is way easier for me! #winning. The fifth item that I always have in stock is carrots. Baby carrots, washed and ready to eat. They will snack on a bag and they can snack on those all day long if they want. I have had to now purchase the larger bag but I’m not complaining.
What does “eating right” mean to you
Eating right…. everyone will have a different opinion, but for me, as long as my kids are eating somewhat balanced meals, I’m happy. Do they need to eat all the food groups all the time? No. Somedays I am just happy they are eating. I have noticed that they go through peeks and valleys when it comes to eating and some days they just refuse a vegetable but then the next, that’s all they seem to want to eat. So I try not to worry about it too much.
Tell us a bit about your grocery shopping habits
I grocery shop about every 2 weeks. If something that the kids eat a lot of, like crackers, is on sale, I buy a ton of them. I also purchase double the vegetables that I would normally need because I chop up half and put them in containers for easy access for lunch making and additions to their dinners if needed. I buy organic fruit and veg, most of the time, but I’m not super strict with it. The kids snacks, granola bars, cookies, fruit snacks and such, I try and get only organic. Our meat is grassfed, when I can and we have organic eggs and milk. Other than that, my groceries are pretty standard. I don’t buy pre-made items such as pizzas, pasta sauces, and such as I prefer home cooked. I like to know exactly what is in my food.
What is your fav recipe? What do you usually cook for you and your family?
My family loves comfort food. So I make large portions of all different pasta sauces, chilli, soups and even lasagna and freeze it all in portions. This way, when you don’t have time to cook or if you are feeling lazy, instead of resorting to take-out or pre-made food, we always have homemade selections that we just need to heat and serve. My theory on this, is it takes just as much time to make 4 servings of lasagna as it does 10, so why not make 10 portions and freeze it
Tell us a bit about your eating out habits
We rarely eat out. I would say maybe once a week sometimes not at all. In the summer, I notice we eat out more. Who can resist a patio? When we do eat out, the kids usually share a meal, because I hate wasting food and throwing away money. They get too distracted when we are so they don’t eat a ton. Our go to for them is usually the basics; pasta, chicken fingers, a burger or pizza and always french fries. Nothing fancy but it sure is easy.
When cooking at home, is eating organic fruits and vegetables, and eating farm raised antibiotic free meats important?
I never used to think it was important to eat organic but since the kids came along and as we learn more, I try to keep things organic. Farm raised antibiotic meat is definitely important, but I won’t lie, if I am at the store and I need something, and they don’t have farm raised ground beef or whatever I may need, I buy whatever is there. And part of that is just me being lazy and not wanting to go to another store. Overall though, I try to keep things organic and healthy for my family where I can.
What tips would you give parents or think they should know and pass down to their kids in terms of nutrition and cooking?
Simple…HOMECOOKING will always be the best!
What should parents do if their kids refuse to eat veggies or healthy foods and only want staple “kids’ foods” like chicken nuggets & fries, and mac n cheese? Why is this, all of the behaviors around that.
I, along with so many other parents, despise meal time. It is the most frustrating time of the day whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dinner by far, trumps it all though. I used to make my kids a separate, more kid friendly meals, but then I woke up and was like ” no way am I making two dinners every night” This is had to stop. So now, my kids eat what we eat, modified. For example, chicken fajitas let’s say, I make it all the same, but for my kids, they for some reason hate cooked peppers, so I only put chicken in their wrap and I put uncooked peppers on the side. Another example would be Sheppard’s Pie. My kids hate mashed potatoes so I feed them theirs without the potatoes on top. Sometimes I mix in minute rice with their portions. Eventually, I hope to not have to modify theirs at all but for now, this works. Another trick I have, is I always put at least two veggies on their plate, whether its broccoli and carrots or peppers and cucumber. This way, even if they absolutely refuse to eat the dinner I have made, I say fine, but you must eat everything else on your plate. At least they are eating all their vegetables, so I am happy. I think of it as a win win for me. A friend told me when eating with your children always enjoy your meal first then deal with them. I tried it and now we actually enjoy our meal while it is still hot and finish before getting all worked up over the kids fussing.
If you could tell all the parents on Pink and Blue one thing, what would it be?
At the end of the day, we are all going to parent a bit differently and that’s okay. No matter the book you read or the advice you got from a friend, you need to do what works best for you and your family. When Parenting, you are in survival mode. Whatever gets you through your daily lives, and from one day to the next…you have to do. What works for my family may not work for yours. It’s all about trial and error and finding your groove. No one said parenting was easy that’s for sure. Just know, that all the battles, the highs and lows, the tantrums and the tears, every other parent is going through the same thing!