My own home chef revolution!

Out of curiosity this afternoon after the children had yet another ‘fish finger sandwich’ lunch, I looked into childhood obesity. I was stunned to read that 1 in 4 Australian children (25%) are overweight or obese (aihw.gov.au), and in the UK today nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese (gov.uk). Yes, I double checked, and looked again! It’s remarkable that in a world so set on slamming parents for feeding their children something that wasn’t sugar free, or god forbid non organic, that we have come to this. Our children are getting fatter by the minute, and their teeth are rotting faster than a corpse in the Sahara desert.

Excuse me for thinking that this is possibly down to the plethora of “advice” coming at us from every which way. As soon as you pop out your first born, you are bombarded with horrifying stories of allergies, and incidents. Tales of someone’s uncle’s, cousins, wife who weaned her baby too early and now has an elephant for a kid who has thirty-seven allergies and an epi pen sticky taped to his forehead.

You can’t eat this if you’re breast feeding, you shouldn’t buy that when you’re weaning, you must NEVER EVER let your toddler drink apple juice! It goes on and on and on. Even when your children start school and you’re miserably making packed lunches, you pray that Justin’s mum isn’t on lunch duty; what if she sees that your carrots aren’t organic and you’ve not made your own hummus, (shop bought is a no no these days), oh and you’ve slipped in a KitKat because you’d run out of bread.
We’re bombarded with messages that ring in our heads like Big Ben at midnight; ‘a healthy outside starts on the inside’; ‘Be smart, Eat smart.’ We’re forced to watch grown men, dressed like broccoli shouting slogans at us from the TV, like “I’m always in the mood to eat healthy food”. Oh get lost Broccoli Ben and pass me granny’s homemade death by chocolate. 

Why oh why are we constantly ambushed with all these highly patronising bits of ‘advice’ from companies who are blatantly poisoning us from behind their “eat healthy” message?

As an easily persuaded mum of two, I have become a dab hand at creating so called ‘healthy’ meals that the dustbin enjoys, whilst the children gorge on three-day old banana custard and toast with lashings of butter. After a twenty-minute battle with my 4-year-old to finish his rainbow chard with smashed chickpeas, I promised myself I would stop insisting on following the trends, do my best and that’s it.

I watched on as Monty urged and gagged over the loo, and thought, that’s it, I’m not going to give in to the demands of “super mum” or “green granny” or even the yummy mummy’s at the school gate. I’m making a stand. I’m not prepared to spend endless hours blending, chopping and mashing a daily rainbow of vegetables, making animal faces out of grains or turning meals into murals, so as they can be thrown in the bin or regurgitated down the loo. I’m going back to the old me, pre kids, where I cooked and ate what I really enjoyed, the meals I remember from my childhood. I was healthy and had a varied diet, full of the nutrients I needed. Unlike now, 8 years’ post-partum where I am seriously lacking vitamin D, my iron levels are beyond a joke, I’ve got acne and my stress levels are through the roof. I blame all of this on one thing. The ‘Critical Crew’, the “Quinoa Queens” and the “Soya Sisters”.  The mums who positively shudder when you say the kids had egg on toast for dinner. “What? Gluten? Excuse me? No greens?’

I’m not sorry that my children don’t like parsnip and harissa fritters with a sprout and avocado dressing. They don’t like spaghetti hoops from a tin for goodness sake. There is no way I could get either of my children to gobble up a salmon fillet with a smile on their face, even if it had been submerged in Nutella first.  I’m fed up of creating names for meals that omit the “yukky” ingredient; I’m not calling Calamari ‘Spanish chips’ anymore!

This year I will be making lasagne as I love it, with pasta (full of gluten), rich red wine infused beef, and a mountain of crispy cheese of the dairy variety on top! I’ll be making stir-fry’s, bangers and mash with veggies and lashings of gravy,  chicken pies, homemade curry with rice, cakes, stews, Sunday roasts, cooked breakfasts, bubble and squeak!! I won’t be cutting out this, substituting that, or limiting anything. I won’t need to.  I’ll be cooking like my mum and dad did, and their parents did before that. I’ll be cooking healthy family meals, with no one sitting on my shoulder ‘advising’ me on how to add lentils to my already brilliant shepherd’s pie or make my morning porridge using Quinoa because oats are from the devil. The statistics speak for themselves; parents just don’t need so much input when it comes to feeding their children. It’s overwhelming, confusing, and mostly downright unhelpful; resulting in our bins getting full and our kids get fat.


Family chefs, be true to yourself, you know what’s right, you know what’s good, you know your children. Don’t let our little ones become confused about food and health and therefore miss out on the enchantment of sitting at the table with loved ones. If we don’t teach them that wherever we are in our lives, the family dinner table is the most wonderful place to share time, no one else will.

Don’t let anyone tell you anything different. Here’s to the true home cook’s revolution.

Join me in using the #homecooksrevolution

 

What feels like the end is often the beginning! 

Monty came downstairs three times this evening after I’d put him to bed, he never does that. It wouldn’t have been so annoying had we still been living in our single storey house in Sydney! The stairs kill me… Twice is bad enough but 3 times up and down, after a long day, with a tummy full of curry and rice! I was not a happy mumma that’s for certain! As I tucked him in AGAIN, furiously patting the covers down, almost burying him alive in the duvet, he looked up at my cross face and sweetly asked if I would lay with him! “I just want to lie next to you mummy” he said very softly, making a space for me. An enormous pang of guilt hit me; the “I don’t hug you enough,” the “oh my god he’s going to school in 3 weeks,” then the “oh my god I’m a dreadful mother”, then I had the “I just don’t play with you as much as I should”…. So I snuggled down and lay with him. I lay there looking at his face, he’s still so little, yet I expect so much of him. As I lay there beside my boy, listening to his breaths getting deeper as he was nodding off, completely contented, I began to think about how our lives are about to change. Not just a small change, we don’t do small changes!! In three weeks time he starts school. I feel a huge wave of anxiety come across me. A selfish kind of anxiety, a real worry; not for him but for me.


In three weeks time, we’ll both be taking on new roles again. (As if emigrating, three house moves, and now an interstate move aren’t enough for one 4 year old!!) Monty will be a school boy, and I’ll be…. Gosh, who will I be??? For the past 9 years I’ve been the ‘stay at home mum’, looking after who ever’s at home; apart from myself of course. Playing games, washing up, reading stories, ironing, going to toddler groups, hoovering glitter out of every possible nook and cranny. In 9 short years I’ve become an expert in creating meals that no one wants to eat, I’ve mastered the art of avoiding tantrums and meltdowns with clever negotiating. I’ve become highly trained in wiping faces & bottoms, clearing up spills and even worse. I’m a dab hand with a train set, a warrior with a nerf gun and I can completely dismantle and rebuild most if not ALL transformers. I know the name of every ninja turtle, all of Peppa Pig’s mates and the paw patrol pups. My god I sing the theme tune to Barbie’s  ‘Life in the dream house’ while I’m ironing. So you see my dilemma.

 

 


What’s going to become of me when the bell rings and both my children are in school?

Who will I be? What will I do? It may sound dramatic but I think I may have lost my identity a little, maybe even morphed into some kind of freaky adult child.

I’ve always been happy being at home with the children, and we were lucky that I could be. I’d always dreamt about being at home full time with my babies, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. (Not literally of course!)

It’s just now, 9 years down the road, in another new city, I am being forced to think about me! Just me! What do I want to do? Where do I want to go? It may sound crazy, but it’s not something I’ve really thought about in a very long time. And to be honest it’s terrifying!

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many things I could easily fill my time with! Reading magazines, having coffee with friends, more coffee, then lunch before pick up. I could go to Pilates, yoga, painting classes, bike riding, horse riding, surfing lessons, scuba diving…. The list is endless, but maybe I need a “job”.  A job that I get paid for, and I get a lunch break with. A job that stops at 5pm sharp. A job that’s just mine, that I don’t have to share, something just for me. That’s where the problem lies. I haven’t set foot in an office for years, my brain is like a soggy egg; and that mixed with admin would be a disaster. I’m not sure I’d be very good at dealing with customers so maybe working in a shop wouldn’t be ideal. I can’t cut hair, or paint nails.. I’d love to be a nurse but I’m too old, I’d love to run a florist but I know nothing about flowers! I can’t take x-rays, I can’t fix cars, I’m not too good at knitting, sewing or fixing things in general.

So, where’s my local “stay at home mum self help group?” Who looks out for us as we head off into the big wide world with a very light handbag and not a snotty tissue in sight? Who’s going to point me in the direction of a coffee shop with no play area? Who’s going to advise me that my face is “too red” or my bum looks “too wobbly in that skirt!?”

As the start of term draws near, the realisation that I’m going to be all alone for most of the week is quite overwhelming. I know they annoy the heck out of me, but jeez they keep me busy, they make me laugh, and they always manage to show me what’s really important in life. They are literally my everything, and that’s all about to become very different for me.

So tomorrow night when the kids are playing up at bedtime, I won’t swear, instead, I’ll take a deep breath, tuck them in again and remind myself that this is all about to change. I will linger a little longer, as I know, in a few weeks time I will be tucking them in, ready to rest before a day of school. They’ll be off together, in their matching uniforms, brother and sister out in the wild alone, without me, and I will be watching them, knowing that it’s the end of an era in the lives of “The Wilson’s”.  One thing I know for sure, whatever becomes of me,  is that when that bell goes at the end of the day, I will be there waiting for them. I’ll be waiting for them to run out to Mumma; at least for a little while longer.
img_7446

Some changes look negative on the surface, but you’ll soon realise that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge – Eckhart Tolle