Take the “No Snacks” Challenge!

Readers — I love this efasrtsiba
by a gal named Karen Perry who came up with this great modern-day challenge after thinking back and realizing:

I don’t have ANY memories of my mom ever stepping foot in the park let alone laying down a blanket with a variety of snacks for me to nibble on. She most def was not calling me over from the playground to sit down to eat some cucumber. And she would NEVER ask me to rinse my hands with sanitizing lotion first.

So the challenge?

Let them rip around for a couple hours and work up an appetite…. I just don’t get the “Come take a break, sit down on the blanket and have a few snacks” delio that’s going on out there. Little boys and girls of the world will stop having the time of their lives on the playground and come to us when they’re hungry. And when they are, they can wait till we get home for a snack. Are we afraid these kids are going to pass out? Seriously…what’s the deal?

The added bonus? No 10 minutes of prepping for the park. No bag to carry. No containers to accidentally leave behind when it’s time to go home. Just grab your jackets and go.

I so agree that we often over-prepare when under- or even zero-preparation is necessary! If you take the no snack challenge for a day at the park, please write and let us know how it goes! – L

As much as I love these (or the American version), kids can probably spend some time outside without an infusion.

As much as I love snacks , kids can probably spend some time outside without an immediate infusion.

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131 Responses to Take the “No Snacks” Challenge!

  1. Emily March 30, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    I’d bring water bottles if it was a hot summer day, but that doesn’t really count as a “snack.” So, yeah, I agree with this post–picnics have their place, but there’s no need to turn every run-of-the-mill visit to the park into one. After all, going to the park is an activity that promotes fresh air and exercise, and you don’t want kids always associating that with food.

  2. Elizarose March 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    I my goodness, I was one of those Mums with snacks for whenever we left the house. There were times I needed another bag because my purse would not fit in the bag due to the snacks I packed. I remember realising how silly this was when I watched an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. The episode where Debra was to provide the snack for the kids sports team and she brought a pack of biscuits or something and the other parents were upset due to the lack of appropriate snacks. All I could think of is, “That’s me!” My daughter did not even realise that I stopped bringing something to eat everytime we went out. I don’t even take a water bottle. Plenty of drink fountains when we are out. I now have room in my bag for my purse.

  3. Emily March 30, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    @ElizaRose–I remember that episode too. The “inappropriate” snack in question was pretzels.

  4. SKL March 30, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    I don’t get the snack culture. Unless my kids are going 6+ waking hours between meals, I don’t plan for snacks. Call me crazy, but I think it’s good for kids to know what it feels like to work up a good appetite. Even to feel a little “hungry” once in a while. Everything tastes better when you’re hungry!

  5. SKL March 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    When my kids were little, though, I used to pack a picnic (dinner) to eat at the park, because otherwise there wouldn’t be time to play outside at all. The kids ate and then they’d run off and play for an hour or two.

  6. Stephanie March 31, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Wait, there’s a challenge? That’s our normal. The kids don’t even notice unless we go with friends who bring snacks.

  7. Janet March 31, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    YES! It’s no wonder we’re all getting chubbier by the minute.

    I went to a beach picnic once with a group of French co-workers. They set their chairs and coolers down when they arrived at 4pm and started playing in the water with their kids, then moved on to volleyball and then catch. It wasn’t until after 6pm that they finally moseyed back to the coolers and set out the food and cracked open beers.

    We were in California, but it was very un-American to not immediately start eating on arrival. And yes, my French co-workers were much trimmer than us Americans. Go figure.

  8. Warren March 31, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    When mine were park age, they did the same as I did. Went, played, got hungry either came home or went to the store.

    Wait, you actually want parents to go to the park?

    For normal everyday play my parents didn’t go, I didn’t go. Kids don’t want us hangin around.

  9. parallel March 31, 2014 at 1:59 am #

    I’m hypoglycemia, so I genuinely can’t go too many hours without eating. If I do, I get shaky and clumsy, my speech slurs, and I start to get very anxious. In school I had to go the nurse’s office periodically for a snack.

    And my mother STILL didn’t bring a snack every time we went out, and she certainly didn’t TELL me when it was time to eat. It was on me to manage my condition, which just meant grabbing something when my body said it was time. She didn’t want to put me on a schedule because she didn’t want me to get into a habit of eating just to eat.

  10. Betsy March 31, 2014 at 3:21 am #

    A little time spent in France with kids can cure this habit. When we were living there, our family was painfully conspicuous being “those Americans” whose children were always eating outside of mealtimes. Pain au chocolat makes a perfect playground snack, or so we believed. That is until I realized no other children were eating them, or anything, at the park. In France they eat with their feet under a table. Period.
    Not that our international experience has cured us, entirely, but it sure has made me more conscious of my strange compulsion to bring a food bag with me, in case of emergency, whenever we leave the house.

  11. Salena March 31, 2014 at 3:47 am #

    I bring water or maybe some juice for us to share. Unless we’re playing during lunch time (12-2 then I pack a simple lunch) no snacks, I always have a granola bar in my purse, which she knows she can find if she really feels like she needs a snack. But all of her friends’ parents come with full on snack setups, and then she wants what her friends are having so I feel obligated to bring snacks when we’re meeting up with friends. I am a fan of the idea that she will tell me when she’s hungry. Only once has she asked to leave to get dinner. Like the first poster I don’t remember ever being taken to the park by my parents, and snacks were never provided by anyone that opted to let us run off some energy at the park.

  12. NicoleK March 31, 2014 at 4:33 am #

    My kid has a tiny appetite. If she eats a snack, she won’t eat her next meal. So I don’t give her snacks unless it’s a special treat, ie we will have ice cream by the lake sometimes, but if we do, I do it with the full knowledge that she won’t be eating dinner, and plan the other meals accordingly.

    Don’t get the whole “French people don’t snack” thing, though… ever heard of the “gouter”? It’s the 4-o-clock snack and its usually really unhealthy.

  13. melanie March 31, 2014 at 6:26 am #

    Ugh my friend does this. I usually bring a few things but leave it in the car for the ride home. My friend will bring a bag packed for her 5 year old. Snacks, drinks, toys….. and my child knows it so she ends up packing extra for him. Drives me nuts. He doesn’t need a snack. He can wait until we leave.

  14. Rosemary March 31, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    I do this but then my kids mooch food off other, more prepared parents! There’s an element of social norms here that comes into play especially when you tend to know the people you run into at outings—we live in a town where we cross paths with people we know all the time. A compromise measure for me has been bringing whole fruit—nature’s snack food, low prep, low waste.

  15. SOA March 31, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I always at least bring water because if I don’t I am going to have thirsty kids whining about being thirsty and then we have to go home sooner. When you exercise you need water. Then if I think then need a snack I bring something or we often like to bring picnics to the park. I don’t see the big deal.

    I do understand that our society feels we have to stuff food at kids all the time. I agree with that. Especially when it comes to class parties or other things and yes, that does annoy me. Especially as a parent of a child with food allergies. But I am okay with every parent feeding their own kid. That really does not effect me as long as you make sure to wipe the peanut butter off your kids hands and face after they eat.

    I won’t pick at any parent actually at a playground. At least they are letting their kids play outside versus being inside.

  16. Maria March 31, 2014 at 7:22 am #

    I’ve been trying to figure this out for a while. I didn’t always bring snaks places but more and more I feel like I NEED to. It took me a while (I might be a little slow 😉 to figure out why I felt this need, but it finally dawned on me. Every kid around us is always eating a snack. Usually it’s some over processed sugar ridden snack that my kids don’t normally get. So, what happens when I don’t bring a snack? My kids spend 20min at the park drooling over and trying to guilt trip people into giving them some of their food, an then they spend the next hour whining to me about how ‘hungery’ they are. *sigh….it always ends up feeling like a loose. loose situation. I HATE snacks!

  17. Andy March 31, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    I guess it depends on kids age and how much time you spend in park.

    My three years often spends 5 or 6 hours in playground with no break. If we do not give her some food in the middle, she becomes nervous, stops listening and gets into fights with other kids. If we give her food and drink in the middle, she behaves normally all the time.

    So, I assume that three years old still needs to eat after two hours of playing and I will not take the challenge.

  18. Donna March 31, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    This seems silly to me. While I very rarely take food with us when we go places, my daughter does generally eat an afternoon snack so I see no reason to not bring one with us if I know we are going to be at the park during the time she usually comes hunting a snack. In fact, I bring one to school every day when I pick her up that she then eats on the playground while playing.

    Most, maybe even all, nutritionists/doctors say that eating a healthy snack between lunch and dinner helps to combat obesity so I don’t really understand the fierce anti-snack crowd here. Nor does it even fit the usual insistence of “I didn’t do it when I was a kid so it is not needed now” thought process since I distinctly remember having an after school/afternoon snack at home or at friends’ houses every day when I was a kid.

    The incessant need to bring food everywhere, even if only going out for a minute, I don’t understand. Interrupting play to insist a child eat seems over-controlling. The bags and bags of snacks boggle my mind. The constant eating that I see some kids do, is horrible. But I really see no reason not to bring something if you know you are going to be at a park during a normal time for your kid to be hungry or any reason we should insist on shutting down playtime early to go home to eat.

  19. Crystal March 31, 2014 at 8:14 am #

    We purposefully let our oldest (6) go hungry sometimes, just a smidge. We try to use it as a teaching moment about all the children in the world who feel that way ALL the time. We ask him things like, “How would you feel if you woke up this every morning? Would you want to listen to your teacher at school?” It’s been a great lesson for him.

  20. Natalie March 31, 2014 at 8:22 am #


    I don’t see what the big deal is.

  21. Michelle March 31, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    I agree that it’s kind of ridiculous the way some people can’t even go to the grocery store without a bag of snacks and toys for their kid. I know someone like that, and I think it’s nuts.

    However, if you see me at the park with my kids, it’s most likely a special outing (otherwise they’d be at the park in our neighborhood by themselves), and I’m going to want to stay most of the day, so I’ve brought lunch.

    I’m curious. How exactly would a total stranger be able to tell the difference between my nutty friend’s can’t-leave-the-house-without-them snacks, and my once-in-a-blue-moon picnic lunch?

  22. trish March 31, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    We did snacks for a while before the age of about 2, but don’t do it as a rule. About the only time we do it is when we are doing an activity that is going to delay regular mealtime — I’ll give a snack well before the regular meatime, so that they can go longer until the delayed mealtime.

  23. SOA March 31, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    I agree with someone else who said how can you tell the difference from us just eating our picnic dinner versus a snack? When we go to the playground I often bring a picnic so we can stay and play longer. We don’t just go to the closest playground. I travel all over the city up to an hour away to try out different playgrounds. So going home to eat is not always practical. We go to playgrounds all over the city so we don’t get bored with the same ones over and over. So yeah, I bring a picnic lunch or dinner sometimes.

    I won’t make my kids stop playing to come eat a snack but I will for lunch or dinner. I don’t actually like giving my kids snacks all the time because then they won’t eat their meals. So I will give them some goldfish or some fruit or a grahmn cracker if it is not too close to meal time or we need to push back mealtime. But otherwise, I try to make them wait for meal times.

  24. Jennifer March 31, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    The constant snacks was a real pet peeve of mine when my kids were younger. And it was particularly bad because all the parents would bring snacks and share them with my kids, and then they thought I was rude for never bringing snacks and sharing with their kids. Barring medical conditions, there is no reason kids can’t wait a couple hours to eat.

  25. Andy March 31, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    @Michelle “How exactly would a total stranger be able to tell the difference between my nutty friend’s can’t-leave-the-house-without-them snacks, and my once-in-a-blue-moon picnic lunch?”

    It is simple. There are two types of total strangers: judgmental jerks and polite ones. Judgmental jerks know you are doing it wrong and assume worst possible scenario, no matter what you do. Polite total strangers do not consider it their business or assume you know what/why you do it or assume it is exceptional.

  26. SKL March 31, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    I didn’t let my kids beg snacks from other people. Period. I taught my kids that is rude.

    I did have one kid ask me to share my kids’ dinner with her. She seemed old enough to know whether she had allergies, so I shared. (Her mom wasn’t around, so who knows what she would have thought of it?) It is not normal around here for strangers to demand to share snacks.

    Tot snacks do seem to be a constant thing, but by school age, I don’t see so much of that.

  27. gap.runner March 31, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    When my son was younger, and I took him to the local playground, I would bring something for both of us to drink (usually water). He would get thirsty after playing for a while, especially on a warm day. But I never interrupted his play to make him take a drink. I waited for him to come to me for a drink.

    On the subject of snacks, about 10 years ago a couple of friends of mine had their kids in a peewee football (soccer) league on the base where I worked. Every week two different sets of parents had to bring the snacks. Both of my friends believe in healthy eating, so when it was their turn to bring the snack they brought sliced fruit and water to drink instead of the usual processed junk food. They were told that they shouldn’t bring the snack anymore, even though the kids ate the fruit.

    When my son played football on a German team, none of the parents ever brought a snack. They just brought something for the boys to drink and each parent was responsible for his or her own child.

  28. pentamom March 31, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    “I didn’t let my kids beg snacks from other people. Period. I taught my kids that is rude.”

    I agree with this, but I’ve been in situations where it’s been more of a “bunches of friends meeting at the beach” and some of the other families brought snacks and willingly, without prompting, offered and shared them with my kids.

    And I didn’t mind at all that my kids ate their stuff since it was so freely offered, or that they had a snack that I hadn’t planned or “authorized”, but I always felt like a mooch in that situation, because it just never occurred to me to bring food for a two-hour mid-afternoon stay at the beach (30 minutes from home) yet here were my kids eating up the stuff that other people brought, and I was sharing nothing in return.

  29. mystic_eye March 31, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    I pack snacks because invariably the one child will claim to be dying of starvation and the other child won’t be close to ready to come home. A couple of oranges, a banana, and a bag of crackers or cereal to keep the peace isn’t exactly a big deal. They get it out on their own, eat it on their own, an put it away when they’re done.

    Now my bigger kid can go off on his own, he also often packs his own snacks. Yeah, I probably could retrain them to only eat at meal times, but we unschool and I don’t really see the payoff in saying “Thou shalt only eat at these times”. They know what they’re allowed to snack on (mainly fruit and veg) and they know where the kitchen is. They also get their own breakfast in the mornings, mostly.

    I’m also fairly unconvinced that kids used to go to the and not have food and drinks. I’ve asked a lot of former parents, and former free-range kids, and they never have an answer for what they did for drinks before fountains/waterbottles and before bathrooms. My hubby remembers leaving after breakfast and not coming home before dinner -and he’s not the kind to not eat. I have a pretty good idea though. When my kids are outside playing the elderly couple next door have a tendency to magically have “a watermelon that’s too big”. When at the good park in our neighbourhood (not the richer one, the one with more community) and the drinking fountain is out and there’s a bunch of kids who don’t want to stop playing magically juice and water appear. I’m pretty sure in the old days it kids would have just gone to the closest kids house to get water or use the bathroom. I’m also very sure that playgrounds didn’t used to be in the farthest corner of the park to avoid “car danger”

  30. pentamom March 31, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    The silliest example of this in my experience was when one of my kids was in Y soccer (games and practices 30 minutes each, indoors, one game and one practice each week) and the coach took it upon himself to organize each player’s family to bring the “snack” or “drink” to every game. Really? A bunch of 4-5 year olds couldn’t go a half hour in the middle of a Saturday morning without a juice box and pretzels? In a building with water fountains? And nobody probably traveling more than 15 minutes to get there?

  31. Betsy March 31, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    I have never taken snacks to the park! My daughter is 10 and my son is 6 and they have zero expectation of mid-meal snacks.
    Also, I have a rule about play at the park or the backyard or the playroom: if you can’t do it by yourself, you can’t do it. 1) It is safer if they learn how to climb the ladders, slides, etc on their own. 2)They learn how to navigate their world so much faster if they have to do it themselves. 3) I don’t have to follow them around making sure they get to do everything!

  32. pentamom March 31, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    That said, Donna has a point — there’s nothing objectively wrong with giving your kid a snack at the park when they’re playing. Still, I think the “challenge” is worthwhile because it draws attention to what has become a rather silly custom because of how it has become considered a necessity to shove food into kids’ mouths every 45 minutes, minimum. (The bit about calling kids away from happy play to come have a snack is really ridiculous, although the optimist in me hopes that that’s really a cover for defusing a possible conflict on the playground.) If you’re not the kind of person who needs to step back and think about whether this is really helpful, then it’s not for you, but it could be useful to make people at least question this near-universal assumption, and discover their kids can be fine (and maybe even better off) without it.

  33. SOA March 31, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    pentamom: Yes! That is the type of snack culture that bothers me most. Because why can’t the parents just provide their own kid a snack should they need one? Why does it have to be communal?

  34. SKL March 31, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    When I was a kid we usually didn’t eat or drink unless we came home during the day. Amazingly, we managed to go for many hours without expiring. This is how I know my kids can do the same.

    Nowadays most of the parks we go to have water fountains, and some of them also have restrooms. A little bit of planning (pee before you go) may be in order, but if the worst that happens is having to leave before one is sick of playing, that is survivable.

  35. SKL March 31, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    At times when I’m pressured to bring a snack, I will bring something relatively healthy, and if nobody likes it, I’ll take it home and eat it myself. 😉 My go-to snack contribution is Guiltless Gourmet tortilla chips. 😉

  36. SOA March 31, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    I have had kids come up and ask me for food when they see me feeding my kids. I usually don’t bring extra so I have to be like “Go ask your mom for a snack”. I am lucky I guess that with food allergies in our house our kids have grown up knowing you never take food from other people so they would never ask anyone for food. Saves me that embarrassment.

  37. Andy March 31, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    It is kind of offtopic, but whether one needs the in-between lunch and dinner meal (and how much of it) depends a lot on when one eats lunch/dinner and what one eats at that time. It holds true for both adults and kids.

    Families that have big gap between lunch and dinner, ate small lunch or low fat lunch are more likely to need the in-between snack. If you ate low fat low calories lunch, some sugar during afternoon might not be that bad idea. Those who ate a lot of fat for lunch do not need it.

    The same goes for people doing a lot sports. They need to eat more.

    I would also see difference between constant sugary treats snacking when there is no hunger/need and having food or calories intake split into multiple smaller meals.

    If you do not know the other family close enough to see the whole picture and they are not fat, then they might know what they are doing.

  38. QuicoT March 31, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Truth is, I always bring a few raisins to the park but not really “for” our kid. I do it because the snack break is *my* favorite part of the outing -> a little moment of intimacy out in the playground that I really treasure. I’m 100% sure my kid wouldn’t notice if I didn’t bring them, though.

  39. Virginia March 31, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    No need to go all Judgey McJudgerson on snack-bringing parents! When my kids were little, I always brought snacks to the park because I had the kind of children who would get hungry without realizing it and then dissolve into uncontrollable tantrums. Also, *I* got hungry. Cucumbers were not on the menu (although I’d have brought them if my kids would have eaten them), and I certainly never dragged a kid away from play because I thought he or she was about to expire from malnutrition. Hanging out at the park was our main social and physical activity back in those days, and having generous snack provisions made it more enjoyable for everyone.

  40. CrazyCatLady March 31, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Eh. I know my kids best. Now that they are all 9 and over, before we go to the park so that I can socialize with the other moms, (we pay little attention to the kids,) I have them eat a snack before we go.

    Lunch at their charter school is 10:30, and they have gotten into the habit of eating around 10:30 or 11:00. By 3:00 when we go to the park…that is a lot of hours. When they were little I would bring an apple each, or a dozen hard boiled eggs because our ducks would lay too many for us to eat on our own and we would share them with other kids.

    When my daughter was in Kinder, the teacher in her boring voice asked the kids “do you want to bring your own snack every day, or” switching to the voice you use for puppies “do you want one parent to bring snack for the class every day?” Of course the kids responded that they wanted one parent to bring in every day. So my daughter went from eating sliced fruit, cheese and milk, to eating sugar cereal in a cup with a bottle of Gatoraid. Even she thought it was disgusting.

    And why did they need snack for morning kinder? Our school started early – some kids getting on the bus before 6:00 am, and they did not get to eat lunch at school before they left at 11:30. Not all of the kids could eat that early in the morning, and not all qualified for the free/reduced breakfast.

  41. SKL March 31, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    My kids’ 2nd grade teacher lets them eat a snack mid-morning, which is to be brought by each child from home. I don’t really care, I figure it breaks up the morning for them, and maybe there’s one or two kids with blood sugar issues and the teacher doesn’t want to single them out. At least I’m the one deciding what the snack choices are. Personally I would think a teacher would prefer not to have this distraction in class, but it’s not my call. (The 1st grade teacher used to give the kids a snack on the way to recess, but once the teacher yelled at me because my kid was taking a whole handful (petite 1st grader’s hand) of cheez-its instead of the 3 cheez-its she was supposed to take. I dunno, if you’re going to give kids 3 cheez-its you’re probably better off just skipping the snack….)

    Then my kids also have a snack (again provided by me) during aftercare, around 3:30pm. They have dinner after 6, sometimes closer to 8, so an afternoon snack is humane. 🙂

  42. Warren March 31, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but those that play sports do no need to eat during, or closely before or after they play.

    You look at most athletes that follow guidelines it is carbs or others well in advance of a game or workout, for energy. And well after their bodies have recovered from the activity, and can properly process their intake, they concentrate on replacing and boosting things they burned off.

    Hell I know athletes that have a min. amount of calories they have to eat during the course of a day. Broken down into categories. And that calorie count would kill some of us.

  43. ifsogirl March 31, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Our neighbourhood park never has kids at it and is just another cookie cutter play structure like so many others. For us a day at the park is exactly that, a day. 11:00am to 5:00 to 6:00pm is a long day. But I pack fruit, veg, cheese, crackers and some Ukrainian sausage.

    The kids come for food as they like and we bring water bottles to refill at the fountain. Sometimes us grownups bring a premixed bottle of rye and coke cause you know we’re all adults. And I get a kick out of the idea of how horrified some of the other moms would be.

  44. Jenny Islander March 31, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Eh, I bring snacks because I still have little ones and sometimes they get hangry; having food on hand when they ask is a good way to fend off those hangry tantrums. But I don’t like waste either, so it’s usually a bag of whole-wheat crackers and some small apples or something, so it’s filling and everything can go right back into the fridge/cupboard if nobody wants it. And waiting until they actually ask is another good way to avoid waste.

    Having snacks on hand is also a way to fend off the inevitable begging because our route home takes us past fast food joints that we can’t afford to eat at because recession.

  45. Marie March 31, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    I’m always frustrated at the snack culture that exists amongst my kids’ preschool friends and their parents. I see no need for a snack between breakfast and dinner and I plan one snack most afternoons, but something we sit down and eat, no grazing on the run. But it seems like all the other moms are walking snack dispensers all hours of the day! There was a playground just outside my daughter’s preschool where we’d sometimes sit and let the kids play for a bit after the morning class let out at 1130. And as soon as we got there the other moms would be pulling out fruit, cookies, juice boxes, etc. This is on top of the snack we were required to send to get them through the whole 2 1/2 hour preschool session! I refused to play along since we were just going home for lunch in a few minutes anyway, but the other moms would ask if my kids wanted some and I felt anti-social turning them down and never offering anything of my own so I just stopped joining them because of the snack issue.
    And then at my daughter’s dance class some parents greet their children after a 45 minute class with pouches of fruit snacks and granola bars, etc. And this is class that gets out at noon. What was really funny was listening to one mom complaining about how picky her daughter was at meals while watching her consume several hundred calories worth of cookies on the way home to lunch. My kids think I’m mean, but I’m not about to change.

  46. Red March 31, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    In our old neighborhood, one of the neighbors kept a “snack cabinet” and a “snack fridge” in the garage, which she filled often with processed food backs and various juice boxes purchased at Costco. She always kept her garage door up, and all the neighborhood kids would take snacks from there. I always insisted that my kid have both MINE and HER permission before taking snacks. I just wanted to have a decent idea of what he was eating over the course of a day, and why perhaps, he was refusing his dinner.

    First, she was griping at me about how quickly the snacks were disappearing. And about her kids refusing to eat dinner. Finally, after her older son blew up from being average for his age height/weight to being extremely overweight, the snack cabinet and snack fridge got shut down.

  47. Christi March 31, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    We often have picnics both lunch and dinner at the park but the kids generally eat a few bites, play for a bit and then return. We aren’t anti snack but I have one that will turn down meals to get more snack food. We are working on it and we often remind her that she isn’t getting a snack if she won’t eat meals. But they both take a snack to school. The 4th grade doesn’t eat until after 1 but school starts at 8:20 so they have a mid morning snack to help them stay focused. The 1st grad has an 11:00 lunch so they often have an afternoon snack for the same reason. I think this one is more of a personal belief issue then right or wrong.

  48. SKL March 31, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    Last week a granny was bringing her granddaughters, ages 6 and 8, to gymnastics (at the Little Gym, not PreOlympicWorld). The kids have two consecutive one-hour classes. The granny went and bought McD’s and actually pulled them out in the middle of gym class to eat. I’ve never seen that done before.

    Last year my kids (then 6) had 3 consecutive hour-long classes each Thursday. (There is no break between classes, they just walk out of one and into the next.) I used to bring those squeezy applesauces and yogurts and let them grab a few swallows between classes, but eventually I stopped that, and they were fine. There is a water fountain in the gym in case they get thirsty.

    When my kids have consecutive classes, we whiz through the McD drive-thru on the way to class. That is more than sufficient to keep the kids alive. Usually they don’t even want to eat again until breakfast, but if they do, they can have fruit or yogurt at home.

  49. BL March 31, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    Possibly (probably) related to the snack phenomenon:

    Has anyone else noticed that when a child isn’t obese or noticeably fat, how many adults will label the child “underfed”, “too thin”, etc. These are children who used to be considered “normal weight”. Looks that way to me, anyhow.

  50. Melissa March 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    So much snack angst!! But really, most nutritionists agree that five small meals are better than three large. My son in junior kindergarten has breakfast at 7, snack at 9:30 (yoghurt and berries packed by me), lunch at noon, snack at 4 with the afterschool program, and supper at 6:30. It’s a healthy eating plan.

    When we’re out and about for a couple of hours (like yesterday, hiked 2km in the woods looking for birds and animal prints), I carry one water bottle and somewhere in either my camera bag or backpack (diapers and dry clothes still) is a ziploc of goldfish or wheat thins. Probably stale. But if someone is STARVING they do the trick – you’re either really hungry and will eat them, or you’re not that hungry and will pass. If I know we’ll be out for awhile and have a real strenuous hike planned I will make sure to pack a few sandwiches and some fruit and cheese – because PB&J or egg salad actually tastes like gourmet food when you’re out in the fresh air and just walked for 90 minutes (and you’re 2).

  51. anonynmous mom March 31, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    I’ve noticed the trend, but not with junk food, at all. What I’ve noticed is that parents go to EVERY event with some all-natural, organic, local selection of foods cut up into tiny pieces that probably took them twenty minutes to put together before they go anywhere. It’s unnecessary, most of the time, but it does create pressure to bring your own nutritionally-perfect snack.

    I honestly have no problem with kids snacking. Kids have different appetites than adults, and they usually even out. My oldest, who is now almost 10, used to love to snack, but the last couple of years, he’s good with three meals and the occasional small snack after school. My little two seem to be hungry from about 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then have little to no desire for food. I can’t really blame them. We eat dinner at 5:45 or so and they go to bed around 6:30 or 7. I don’t want a bit meal that cose to my bedtime, either. So, they get breakfast, a small morning snack, a small lunch, and then another snack in the afternoon, and usually will just pick at their dinner. That’s fine with me. Eating three big meals a day is not somehow inherently nutritionally superior to eating five or six small ones, and it’s really up to individual families to figure out what works for them.

    But, for simplicity, I don’t bring snacks on outings. I’ll usually bring water if it’s going to be hot, and that’s it. If they get hungry enough, we’ll head home and eat. We’re usually hanging out close enough to home that it’s not a problem. (I also tell my son that, if he is over a friends’ house and gets hungry, he can come home. If the parents offers a snack, he can take it, but he is NOT to ask for snacks. Being hungry is a sign it’s time to come home. I’ve had a few neighborhood kids I’ve had to enforce that rule with at my house, or else they’d eat through a week’s worth of our snacks in a day or two. You’re hungry? If it’s around our lunch or snack time, I’ll offer some of what we’re having, but if you want more or something different or something at a different time, you can head back to your house and go to your own kitchen.)

  52. Melissa March 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    BL – I agree! My kids are often called “skinny” by friends and strangers alike. My daughter, especially, is pocket-sized and hard to buy pants for as they generally fall off. She never grows into a waist band before outgrowing the legs. Then my friends kids are straining buttons and everyone is talking about how they’re “big healthy boys”!

    I’m a fat girl, so I’m particularly sensitive to this I guess. Rules and regulations with food (both the folks that feed non-hungry kids because “it is food time, period” and the folks that withhold snacks because “snacking is bad”. You should really just eat and drink healthy things when you’re hungry or thirsty (oh that I could remember that advice for myself).

  53. anonynmous mom March 31, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    @BL, there was a study a few years back that showed that adults, even doctors, are extremely bad at identifying, from looking at a child, whether they are underweight, normal weight, or overweight. The distinctions tend to be so small, because of kids’ smaller body sizes, that even professionals will routinely mistake overweight kids for normal and vice versa.

    We have seen a rise in rates of childhood obesity, but overall average weights of children have only risen a bit. (It’s long and complicated, but basically, it only took a very small change in weight to move many kids from “normal” to “overweight.”) So when people talk about seeing a world overrun by fat kids today, who never existed before, I think we’re mostly seeing confirmation bias. Should kids be out playing more? Yes. Should they eat healthy foods? Yes. But did we suddenly go from a world full of all thin, healthy children to one full of all massively obese ones? Not at all. I just do think the scorn toward fat kids is cruel and unnecessary. We should be promoting healthy habits and freedome to be active for ALL kids, not mocking kids who are overweight (or who we perceive as overweight).

  54. SKL March 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    BL, I’ve seen that in some cultures. But not in most of the places my kids hang out. Of course they recreate in places where kids are active. Although my kids aren’t fat, they have a fair number of peers who are as slim or slimmer. And nobody complains about this.

    Though they do have aunties who think it is a sin to miss an opportunity to stuff something in their mouths. I’ve had many harsh words about this and they eventually back off (for a while, anyway). It’s funny, kind of, because these middle-aged aunties gripe “but you let the grandparents give them ice cream, that isn’t fair.” 😛

  55. SKL March 31, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    I do think there’s a trend toward heavier kids in general, though it varies by region. In my kids’ school I see kids, especially girls, getting heavier on average as they move up in school. Often these are the kids who are high-performers academically. Sometimes I wonder if parents are afraid to shoo their kids out to play (or take them to the gym) because it might interfere with their school work. Or maybe it is personal preference; my youngest would usually choose reading over running, if I left it up to her. Whichever it is, the school lunches etc. then compound the issue.

    No matter how politically correct adults try to be about obesity, there’s no escaping the fact that these kids are going to suffer in multiple ways. Personally I have tried to create a lifestyle that quietly addresses this risk from day one. Some people may think I’m mean, obsessed, or crazy. To each his own. In the end I don’t know what my kids’ body types will be, because I don’t actually have that much control, but I think it’s worth a try up to a point.

  56. SKL March 31, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    About the argument that it’s better to have more smaller meals than 3 bit meals. I would just say that we are all different. I’m sure that is true for some of us, but that doesn’t make it true for all of us. (I have had this discussion with aunties who keep insisting that my kids must have food in their mouths if there is food in the vicinity.)

    My concern really isn’t with three meals vs. 5-6 meals. It’s with developing the habit of constantly eating. The feeling that if I start doing xyz, it must be time to eat, whether I’m hungry or not. As a teen, this happened to me. Whenever I sat down to watch TV at home, I had to be munching something. For years after I moved out, even long after I gave up snacking, I would get the urge to eat Doritos when I visited my parents and sat down to watch TV. Even if I wasn’t the least bit hungry.

    My kids have always had 4-5 “meals” a day, but they are scheduled meals/snacks and if the schedule gets compacted or the meals are huge, one or both of the “snacks” can go. I think it’s a bad idea to associate too many daily activities with eating.

  57. hineata March 31, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    I so agree about the sanitizing lotion. It drives me mad that some kids these days won’t eat when they’re outside because they ‘can’t wash their hands’. Even El Sicko can get by with just wiping her hands on her trousers, or wiping the outside of the apple on said trousers.

    I usually carried food on trips to the park because we often went over lunchtime or for extended periods. Also the old earthquake thing, and being a passionate follower of Baden-Powell, LOL, means I keep/kept water and food in the buggy or the car (more so now). And we tend to eat small meals and have morning and afternoon tea, so I don’t see the issue really. I never could eat three big meals, always preferred to spread food out.

    I must say, though, that if Americans actually eat the kind of huge meals we foreigners get told you eat on a regular basis, then snacking is probably not a terribly good idea, unless you are, say, working on a chain gang. For example, supposedly your small (regular?) serving at McDonalds is the equivalent of our extra large servings. And our friends and relatives who have been on holiday say that when eating at steakhouses they have to order a meal between three/four, because they (including the men) cannot physically consume all the food otherwise, without feeling ill. Donna, you might be in the best position to compare – do Americans regularly eat those kinds of meals, and are they really that big (the meals, I mean 🙂 )?

    Am rather curious… 🙂

  58. hineata March 31, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    @Jenny Islander – am sorry to hear the recession is making things maybe somewhat difficult for you 🙁 . I gather it has been fairly bad up there.

    We have had effects down here too of course, but not relatively as bad I gather as the States. Our family personally were just very fortunate because my husband’s job is fairly specialized and, being hands-on, cannot be outsourced.

    I hope things pick up again for you shortly….

  59. SKL March 31, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Hineata, many restaurants do serve ridiculously large meals, but most of us can’t eat so much, so we share or take home a “doggy bag.” It bugs me and frankly is an appetite killer when I see that much food in front of me. Most people don’t pile that much on their plates at home.

    But sure, there are some people who eat that much. And for most of them (very active / high metabolism folks excepted), it shows.

    The saddest thing is the economy buffets. People who are economically insecure feel like they have to eat as much as they can, in order to get the max value out of the “all you can eat” aspect. Often they are already quite rotund. And the food isn’t even that good. I’d advise everyone to skip those places all together.

    My sister (who is obese) has a saying. If you have too much food on your plate, it’s better to let it go to waste than to let it go to waist. 😛

  60. lollipoplover March 31, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    No thanks on the challenge or to take an *anti-snack* view. Packing or not packing isn’t like a gun debate- it’s just goldfish crackers. Why do we have to make playing so complicated. Does anyone have kids that pack their own snacks?

    I got emailed last week from my daughter’s softball coach. He need a team parent volunteer. One of the moms said she’d do it but she was firmly against snacks at the end of games and using treats as *rewards*. She sent a few passive aggressive emails saying if we cared about their health then we shouldn’t allow snacks and most of it was junk anyway.
    All this over a juice box and goldfish? Get a life.

    And most of the parents were so put off by the need to ban/control/preach about eating habits that we are planning a revolt. I plan on bringing extra crappy snacks like Ding Dongs and Extra cheezzzy cheetos. My kids eat healthy but a snack after a 2 hour game isn’t really challenge worthy. Packing a few bananas just in case your there longer than planned is being prepared, not type 2 diabetes.

  61. EB March 31, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Aaaaand. . . . why does every soccer game or T-ball game run by the part district (or even AYSO) have to have snacks? Water, yes. But snacks? the game is 1 hour long. No need for snacks at all.

  62. Coasterfreak March 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    I had to laugh when I read the comment about two sets of parents having to bring snacks to every soccer match for the kids. My son was in soccer for 10 years, from age 4 – 14. Same team the whole time. Right from the beginning, parents were assigned a week to bring a half time and after game snack for the kids. About the time the boys turned 10, all of us parents decided it was ridiculous to do it that way and we decided to all just bring whatever we felt appropriate for our own kids. In most cases, that ended up being water (obviously since this is TX and it’s HOT) and a piece of our kids favorite fruit.

    The second year we did it that way, a parent of a new team member decided we weren’t giving our kids enough “fuel” at half time, so he took it upon himself to provide snacks for the entire team at half time and after the game every week. At first we were all a little offended, but after a couple of weeks it was like, well, if it makes him feel better… Haha. We just kept bringing what we felt was appropriate and let him do his thing.

    It just always blew my mind that this one guy was convinced that the rest of us (11 other sets of parents) were all doing it wrong and it was his responsibility to make sure the boys were taken care of.

  63. Donna March 31, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    hineata –

    I remember when McDs made the shift up in sizes. What is now small fries was regular fries and what is now regular fries was large fries when I was young and the now large fries didn’t exist at all. I didn’t eat at McDs in New Zealand so I can’t compare. I did get McDs a few times in London and even once in Italy and they still went by the old sizing, but that was back in 2000.

    As for restaurant meals, I would say that on average meals in the US are larger than what I got in New Zealand. The vast majority of people don’t eat that amount food at home, but I do think that many (probably most) people overestimate serving sizes even at home. Some of it is because food has gotten larger and people haven’t adjusted their idea of what constitutes a serving (eg. it is now closer to half a chicken breast and not a whole chicken breast as in our youth) and some is just lack of knowledge about what a serving size of something really is.

    I had dinner this weekend with a very old roommate who now has an obese 9 year old. Unhealthy snacking may have played a part, but this 9 year old ate all the adults under the table. Considering the mom had gastric bypass surgery not too many years ago, I expected a little more understanding of this issue.

  64. Jena March 31, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    We took on the snack culture with the cub scouts. My husband spoke out against the completely unnecessary practice of a parent having to bring snacks and drinks to cub scout meetings which took place at 7 pm – within an hour of most kids having had dinner. He got the impression that other parents were relieved to be free of this obligation, but know one was willing to risk being ostracized I suppose.

  65. Papilio March 31, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    “a rather silly custom because of how it has become considered a necessity to shove food into kids’ mouths every 45 minutes, minimum”

    Sounds like Hansel and Gretel. No wonder you have an obesity epidemic going on. Maybe you should ask those people if they’re going to have a kid for Christmas dinner.
    It also reminds me of some shoe-sized-IQ comment on Lenore’s Parkday I ever read: that of a mom wondering how, if parents were not with their kids at the park, the children were gonna know when to eat, drink and rest…

    “Our school started early – some kids getting on the bus before 6:00 am, and they did not get to eat lunch at school before they left at 11:30.”

    Sorry to go off-topic, but I read about early school onsets more often here, so… : Why does that school start so ridiculously early? I mean, having to leave before 6:00 – how can you do that to young children who need their sleep?? Do the parents have to leave for work at such undecent hours, that schools also decided to start early?
    There was a Supernanny episode in which Jo allowed a couple of 10yos to go to bed two hours later than they usually would, but they had to get out of bed at normal times in the morning and go to school and everything. After a week she had them tested, little memory test, and they scored like 7-year-olds. Then she had them go to bed an hour earlier than usual for a week, and after that they scored like 12-year-olds.

    Re meal sizes: I remember a food expert – in the context of obese teenagers – saying that restaurants in the USA serve about 3-4 times as much as what would be a healthy amount of food. I assume she was talking about the medium size, but don’t know really.

  66. Sara Heard March 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    @SKL, my kindergartener eats mid-morning at school too, but that’s lunch! In a school day that runs from 8:25 to 3:15, “lunch” is at 10:50. They have a small snack around 2:15 too, but I’m not sure that continues in the older grades.

    The thing that drives me crazy at the playground is the people who make their kids stop playing to drink some water. As if any child ever voluntarily dropped dead of thirst because of the lure of the monkey bars. It’s no wonder we’re a nation of the overweight — nobody is allowed to reach adulthood knowing what true hunger and thirst feel like (Oprah even said so in a story — the first time she went on a hike with her diet guru she had a strange feeling in her stomach and thought she was ill — turned out she had NEVER gone long enough without eating to know that that feeling was hunger).

  67. hineata March 31, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    @SKL – thanks for that. I assumed that would probably be the case. My friends and rellies were on holiday, so they ate every day in cheaper restaurants, and hence no doubt got a false look at the American palate :-). A shame about the ‘economy buffet’ and harder times, too, though it makes sense. My husband grew up poor and still has trouble saying no to those sorts of buffets – hates seeing food go to waste. Fortunately he has a physical job :-).

    @Donna – thanks too. I wonder why McDonalds did the upshift? Wouldn’t it make more sense economically for them to slowly cut portion sizes, while still charging the same? Like everyone else seems to, LOL!

    And yes, you’d think a woman who’d had bypass surgery might think it a good idea to limit an obese child’s intake of food. But maybe she didn’t want the kid to get a complex? I don’t know, I think I would want to set limits regardless – I know I’ve had to the other way, and bugger the psychological effects.

    Maybe that’s why my kids seem so screwed up :-)…

  68. alison hlady March 31, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    I realized how much time I spent packing snacks, unpacking snacks, cleaning the dished used to pack snacks, buying the right things to pack for snacks. I gave it all up. When you’re hungry, it’s time to go home. And someone else always brought the sand toys that all the kids fought over. With all that crap left at home, we could ride our bikes to the park, which made me happier. Very glad, though, that my 8, 11 and 13 year old can now take themselves to the park, so I can stay home, drink hot coffee and read my book!

  69. alison hlady March 31, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    I realized how much time I spent packing snacks, unpacking snacks, cleaning the dished used to pack snacks, buying the right things to pack for snacks. I gave it all up. When you’re hungry, it’s time to go home. And someone else always brought the sand toys that all the kids fought over. With all that crap left at home, we could ride our bikes to the park, which made me happier. Very glad, though, that my 8, 11 and 13 year old can now take themselves to the park, so I can stay home, drink hot coffee and read my book!

  70. Betsy in Michigan March 31, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    My kids are now 12 and 7, so it’s not so critical, but I always keep nuts and raisins or granola bars in the CAR, for when they or I am actually hungry, like before that appointment or long errand after school. This avoids those ill-advised fast food stops, b/c some of us get cranky if we don’t eat or are dehydrated. After school snacks were pretty standard when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s. But unless we’re packing an actual picnic lunch or dinner, we don’t take snacks to the park. We eat healthy snack anytime of day when we are hungry; we are all normal weight and emphasize daily exercise and limiting screen time.

  71. Donna March 31, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    “Why does that school start so ridiculously early? I mean, having to leave before 6:00 – how can you do that to young children who need their sleep??”

    First, my guess is that most of those early pick up times would be for kids who have lengthy distances to travel to school and not schools that start at 6:30. At one point, I had a 50-60 min bus ride to school. My bus picked up really early.

    Second, while there are exceptions (I have one), young children are pretty noted to be early risers naturally. I don’t know any parents who complain that their elementary school age children get up too late on the weekends, so I don’t get the impression that parents are having to force their young kids out of bed many hours earlier than they would be popping up otherwise. Some earlier probably, but not monumental amounts earlier. In fact, studies have shown that TEENAGERS are the ones who need to start school late, not elementary school children.

    As a result the effects are not the same as if they were to stay up 2 hours later because there isn’t a 2 hour difference between when they get up for school and when they would normally wake anyway. Kids who sleep no later than 6:30 don’t lose much sleep if they have to get up at 6 for school. However, if you put them to bed at 10 instead of 8, you see monumental differences.

  72. Donna March 31, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    “I realized how much time I spent packing snacks, unpacking snacks, cleaning the dished used to pack snacks, buying the right things to pack for snacks.”

    It seems like some put waaay to much effort into park snacks than needed. No wonder it seems like such an issue. It takes me a grand total of an extra 30 seconds to grab an apple and some string cheese before I run out the door and another whole 30 seconds to put it back if it wasn’t eaten.

  73. Warren March 31, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Wow how defensive you all became over snacks.

    Want to know how to deal with hungry kids that are chanting the name of whatever fast food joint? Tell them NO. Turn the radio up, and feed them at home. Instead of feeding them to keep them quiet. Godforbid they hear the word no.

    Know what if they go a little hungry at 5pm, they might just appreciate dinner more at 6pm.

    And if your life is so busy that they have to eat on the go all the time, then it is time to reevaluate life.

    Kids do not have to eat between school and an activity. They can wait until dinner. And physically it is probably better for them, than a mostly undigested snack sitting in there stomach during the activity.

  74. Peter March 31, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    I mean, having to leave before 6:00 – how can you do that to young children who need their sleep??

    Send them to bed earlier.

    When I was a young kid, my bedtime was 9:00PM. I had to wake up at six o’clock to catch the bus at 7:30AM (breakfast and a one-bathroom house with 5 other people…)

    So nine hours of sleep a night. Pretty good.

  75. Lorim March 31, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    I so agree! I don’t understand my mother in law’s compulsive feeding of my kids. It’s literally continuous. She even carries an insulated cooler Around the mall; complete with paring knife! It’s infuriating but I realize that it sounds even more absurd when you write it down. So, the other day I planned a playdate in the park for my daughter. I fed her right before we left. It takes 5 minutes to walk to the park. Not 30 minutes into the play date she was asking me for snacks! She had to wait 2 hours til we got home. She survived and ate a great dinner !

  76. Kate March 31, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    I’m so down with this! We are raising a generation of children who’s needs are met immediately all the time. They can wait…it will build patience in the little gems. S’all good.

  77. SKL March 31, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Well, by coincidence, today my kids begged me to take them to the park after I picked them up at 6pm. The weather has been so obnoxious that when we have a little sun, everyone wants to be out. The girls played and I walked for at least 1.5 hours with no mention of food. At that point I said it was time to go. Once home, my 7yo began to cook dinner. I laid out some carrot sticks and the kids spooned out some peanut butter and set to munching. They tore into the carrots and ate quite a bit before the cooked food was done. Isn’t it cool how that works? (Usually it’s like they’re doing me a favor if they eat a bit of vegetable.)

  78. SKL March 31, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    My kids usually only need about half an hour in the morning before leaving to school. That said, I still think I would die if I had to get them out the door at 6am every day. For one thing, it’s still pitch dark at 6am for most of the school year….

  79. CF March 31, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    Generally, snacks are not a big deal. But two things bug the hell out of me.

    First, when my son is offered a snack, he declines, and some adult will not take no for an answer and keeps waving fig newtons or something in his face.

    Second, when kids are at our house and the parents demand a gluten free, sugar free, dairy free (yes, all three) snack while the kid pitches a fit for treats.

    “There’s fresh fruit on the counter. Help yourself. If you want different snacks go home.” Yes, I’ve gotten quite blunt about it.

  80. Kc March 31, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    I sorta get your point but preparing snacks/lunch in the morning is what gives my toddlers and I the freedom to do more fun things once we are out without worrying about mealtimes and what we eat. There is some science behind letting children eat as they are hungry as opposes to forcing regimines and power struggles over food, over or under eating.
    I would much rather feel free to go play for hours until we really have to go home, knowing that I already have the food thing marked off the list.
    Aren’t most nutritionists saying that more small meals is healthiest anyway?
    I don’t pack meals to meet anyone else’s standards but to nourish my family.
    Btw, we often spend 2-5 hrs at a park 5 days a week unless weather sucks, so I have this down.

  81. Emma April 1, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    We usually go to the park either straight after lunch or straight after afternoon snack, so I tell my kids (2 & 4) that I’m not taking snacks, so if they get hungry then we’ll have to come home (funny how their “hunger” disappears when I remind them of that!).
    But if we happen to be at the park at a normal eating time, then I’ll take the appropriate snack/meal with us. I won’t stop them playing to come eat though. They’ll come when they’re hungry.

  82. Cassie April 1, 2014 at 1:24 am #

    This is hilarious.

    Do mums really interrupt play to make their kids eats?

    Wow. I love going to the park with my kids (sub-5yo) and my friends. We bring a cake, I pack a thermos, we lay out blankets and natter for hours and hours before calling it a day. Three to four hours is not unusually for us… and never once in all those times have I ever called my kids to eat. They came on their own accord when they wanted food, climbed all over us, narrowly avoided our cups of tea, and double-dipped into everything… but other then that they buggered off and we enjoyed our cake!!

  83. Melanie April 1, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    first…you know I am the biggest fan of free range kids in my whole freaking city.
    second…..I was a bit bummed to discover I couldn’t really go all out on this. Why not? Because our school board is so messed up that our kids don’t have enough time to eat at lunch. No joke. No helicopter freaky parent here. It really is true. It sucks.
    So yes, I show up at 3:00 with snacks. Not the ones in the photo. Sorry….those look nasty. And my kids are overwhelmingly grateful.
    If I ever start showing up at school with daily hot lunch then you can make fun of me all day.

  84. Monika R April 1, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    I understand completely. Yet I had to start bringing snacks to wean my husband and stepson from grabbing junk in the drive thru after working up an appetite. A couple years later I had a baby daughter, I want her to grow up appreciating real food. So when we take them to the park, I grab apples and water, when we go biking, I pack crunchy salads and some fruit. Otherwise I’ll hear my stepson whispering to his daddy “I’m HUNGRY daddy” which really means – oh I see there’s a D donuts there, can I get a doughnut with blue icing? Eversince I started bringing wholesome snacks he knows if he says he’s hungry, his daddy will just pull out some fruit or a sandwich from the bag, so … he stopped asking, go figure, hunger magically disappeared. Sometimes he will go on not eatnig the whole afternoon because he doesn’t want to get anything wholesome to eat, he wants the junk, the mac and cheese from a box, the burger, the doughnut, not the home made veggie and beef lasagna, the shepherd’s pie with PEAS and corn, the toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches because the cheese is not a processed cheese… and a tomato is a tomato… But it seems like he’s getting better at eating, although it took already 4 years, his health is excellent. SO yes, if you have fussy eaters, and you’re the only one controlling the intake of food, dont take snacks out, wait until dinertime, nicely worked up appetite wouldnt hurt, but if you have a family member that will run to get a doughnut for your child…. do pack an apple!

  85. marie April 1, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    The snack culture starts early. Most parents carry a baggie of Cheerios in case the baby gets fussy. As soon as the baby makes any noise at all, the Cheerios are brought out.

    When I was growing up, if someone had brought food of any kind into church, even to calm the babies, THEY would have been the oddballs. Now parents come to church with a bag full of juice pouches and crackers and cereal and fruit snacks. Today, the babies might be quieter…but what are we teaching them?

  86. Amy April 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    We’ve never even thought about bringing snacks. We’re lucky if their hair is combed and their shoes match. The challenge would be to be that organized; I thought only moms with their poop in a group did that stuff!

  87. pentamom April 1, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    “@Donna – thanks too. I wonder why McDonalds did the upshift? Wouldn’t it make more sense economically for them to slowly cut portion sizes, while still charging the same? Like everyone else seems to, LOL!”

    When it comes to cheap food like McDonald’s serves, product cost is a fairly small proportion of expenses. So if the cost of labor and overhead increases, cutting portion size isn’t going to do a lot, unless it’s to such a high degree that people really feel cheated. In that situation, prices, especially on their lower-end products which are probably on a pretty thin margin already, have to increase.

  88. Dave April 1, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    When I go to the park with my grandson which is often we never bring snacks. If after hours in the park he get hungry we either go home, rarely does he want to do that or get something from a vendor in the Park. Cucumbers and parks just don’t go together well. Any junk he eats gets burned up right away running, climbing and biking through the park. And as for water there are always fountains to drink from.

  89. pentamom April 1, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    “As if any child ever voluntarily dropped dead of thirst because of the lure of the monkey bars. ”

    Okay, I’m the kind of person who will not drink enough in hot, sunny weather unless reminded or making a disciplined effort to remember myself. Drop dead? No. But maybe wind up headachey and sick the rest of the day, yes. If it’s really hot, waiting until you’re so thirsty you can’t stand it is not always going to be good enough, and kids can get involved in stuff and ignore their own bodies.

    That said, I am sure there are moments when it’s really hot that the kid is going to flop down and rest for a couple of minutes and you can remind them to take a swig, or make sure they stop and have a really good drink before you head home. You don’t have to monitor them as though they’re hospital patients with their intake and output being recorded.

  90. E Simms April 1, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    @Papilio “Re meal sizes: I remember a food expert – in the context of obese teenagers – saying that restaurants in the USA serve about 3-4 times as much as what would be a healthy amount of food. I assume she was talking about the medium size, but don’t know really.

    “Some of the worst culprits here are the big chain restaurants like Cheesecake Factory or Bennigan’s. I’m not singling them out, I like their food, but they are examples of chain restaurants that serve massive amounts of food. I never leave without a doggy bag with at least half of my meal. I don’t eat at these places often, but with a little self control I get my money’s worth and lunch the next day.

    Plenty of local restaurants, if not most, usually serve normal amounts of food. If you are visiting the US it takes more work to find good local restaurants, but it’s worth it. Sites like city-data.com can help a lot.

  91. pentamom April 1, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    “Re meal sizes: I remember a food expert – in the context of obese teenagers – saying that restaurants in the USA serve about 3-4 times as much as what would be a healthy amount of food. I assume she was talking about the medium size, but don’t know really.”

    I don’t eat out an awful lot, but in my experience the worst offenders are the mid-range franchise restaurants a la Applebee’s, for a full meal (i.e., not a sack of fries that comes in “sizes.”) My guess is that it is just about giving you a really huge plate of food to make you think you’ve gotten a good value.

    If you go to most fast food places and order the small size of everything, it’s not a ridiculous amount of food. So some of this is on the customers, too; they’re not forcing everyone to get the large. Even if they make it a “good deal” to get the big size, common sense says you still pay less if you order the smallest size, even if you’re paying a little more per ounce.

  92. E Simms April 1, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I meant to say good *reasonably priced* local restaurants. I live in a tourist area. High priced local restaurants are easy to find, just follow the crowd in shorts and sandals. But, sometimes the best low cost local restaurants are just a couple of blocks over…and not crowded.

  93. pentamom April 1, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    HA! E Simms and I made the same point about the chain restaurants.

  94. Jessica April 1, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I don’t know. Isn’t this the kind of thing free-range parents try to avoid doing? Judging other parents on their parenting style? I mean, when it comes down to it, who cares? Who cares if the family next to you is eating snacks at the park? I sure don’t. It just seems counter-intuitive to the free-range movement to pay so close attention to and scrutinize what other parents are doing. Isn’t that what we would like other people to stop doing to us?

  95. Donna April 1, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    “If you go to most fast food places and order the small size of everything, it’s not a ridiculous amount of food. So some of this is on the customers, too; they’re not forcing everyone to get the large.”

    While it is true that smaller options are available, McDs and other fast food restaurants highly encourage the larger sizes and make ordering the smaller sizes more difficult. The Meal Deals and the items on the big menus front-and-center are all large sizes. To find out what may be available in small sizes, you have to hunt them down on the small print menus off the the side and order everything individually. In some, Chick Fil A comes to mind, you have to order kid’s meals to get the smaller portions as the portions sizes are not available otherwise (the fries are but not the nuggets).

  96. Jen (P.) April 1, 2014 at 11:05 am #

    When my kids snack they don’t eat meals. I prefer to starve ’em until dinnertime.

  97. SKL April 1, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    I disagree that it’s harder to buy smaller sizes at McD. What about the dollar menu? Who says you have to buy a “meal deal”? I never do that. We never order fries or soft drinks. A cheeseburger or McChicken is $1. Apple slices $.75 (or less if there’s a special). Water is free. What’s hard about it?

  98. SKL April 1, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    And Chic-fil-A has never required me to buy a full kid’s meal to get the parts either – I don’t think. Even if they did, at least they give you options for the sides and drinks (incl. fruit, milk).

    We always special order stuff anyway, because my kids don’t like the standard mix of toppings on the sandwiches.

    I just don’t see it being burdensome to say “a cheeseburger and a water” instead of “meal # 4.”

    If you’re only going there once in a while for a special treat, then you have to research what’s in those meals anyway. And if you go there every week like I do, then you are going to want to give it a little thought rather than let McD decide your family’s diet.

  99. SKL April 1, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    And for the info of those outside the USA, a McD cheeseburger is NOT a large meal. LOL.

  100. Donna April 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    SKL –

    I always order a small hamburger (in the rare cases I eat at McDs) and have for years. I’ve had numerous people comment when with me that they didn’t even know that those were available any more. In fact, my grandmother bought Happy Meals for years in order to get the smaller meals before I pointed out that she could buy them without the toy. So, yes, they are on the menu, but, no, it is not necessarily well known that these things still exist. Since most people are fairly familiar with the offerings at McDs, whether they eat there regularly or not, they are not scouring the menu each time they go in. And the marketing definitely encourages big sandwiches.

    As for Chick Fil A, as I already said, you can buy the sides (fruit, fries), but not the 4 or 6 nuggets portion sizes. My guess is that you could probably ask for them since Chick Fil A will generally give you anything you want, but they are not on the menu at any Chick Fil A I’ve ever eaten in.

    “If you’re only going there once in a while for a special treat, then you have to research what’s in those meals anyway.”

    Really? The big picture of a sandwich (stealthily named Fish Filet), fries and drink doesn’t give it away to you in about a half a second?

  101. SKL April 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Well maybe it’s just me, but it takes me more than half a second to scan the menu and even know which part of it contains “meals” vs “sandwiches” vs “drinks.”

    I never buy the “meals,” never have. So I wouldn’t have any idea what is available as a “meal” and what it includes and whether it’s a good value. Since I never drink anything with my meals, I have no reason to even look at that part of the menu. And I don’t watch TV, so I’m not getting this valuable information there either.

    This is the first I’ve heard that there are people who thought hamburgers & cheeseburgers have ceased to be sold separately at McD. How could that be, honestly? That is a little scary.

    And there is no “small” vs. “regular” hamburger; the regular hamburger size is small enough even for a child. I am pretty sure only White Castle makes them smaller. 😛

  102. marie April 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    Jessica said, I don’t know. Isn’t this the kind of thing free-range parents try to avoid doing? Judging other parents on their parenting style?

    I like your point. There is far too much sniping at others about how they raise their kids.

    However, there is a social cost to the changes we see. It is true that kids used to go to the park without Mom trailing along and without adults directing their play. FRK points out that the old way has terrific advantages and the new way (“Don’t climb too high, sweetie”) teaches kids to be too cautious, and kids don’t learn the physical lessons of jumping and climbing and running and exploring.

    Same kind of lessons in Lenore’s observation about snacking. Kids are raised now with food and drink always in reach. That’s a generalization, I know, but yes: in general, kids snack a lot more than they used to. There are more snacking options available in the stores (bite size Oreos, for example) and there is a social pressure on parents to provide many and varied snacks for the kids. At all times, all occasions.

    At the individual level, I don’t care what a parent does about snacks but when abundant snacks prevail, there is a social cost. Kids who are shushed with Cheerios and rewarded at school with Sour Patch Kids and fed cookies at Boy Scouts and given bottles of Gatorade at the soccer game…they will learn something from that. Instant gratification as a social norm? I don’t think that’s good for society.

  103. Donna April 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    “This is the first I’ve heard that there are people who thought hamburgers & cheeseburgers have ceased to be sold separately at McD. How could that be, honestly?”

    Because they don’t advertise them? Because instead of being front-and-center and in-your-face like the big sandwiches with pretty pictures, they are with the sides, desserts and randomness in small print? Because spending lots of time analyzing the McDs menu for hidden gems kinda defeats the point of fast food? Because not everyone is real bright, heck, not everyone can read? Shall I keep going?

    “And there is no “small” vs. “regular” hamburger”

    Technically, no, but most people I know consider the Quarter Pounder a regular hamburger, so a standard hamburger would be a “small hamburger.”

  104. SKL April 1, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    OK, well, apparently there are whole separate sub-cultures of McD patrons….

    This is really eye-opening. So if Drug Mart doesn’t advertise that it sells aspirin, how will I know aspirin still exists? If the Supermarket doesn’t advertise plain old milk, it is logical to assume milk isn’t available there?

    So if people want a Quarter Pounder but they think that’s actually called a Cheeseburger, then do they order a Cheeseburger and then get upset when they open it up? Because I’ve ordered thousands of cheeseburgers and never received a Quarter Pounder yet.

    I just never knew that ordering the simplest, most classic items at McDs could be so intimidating. Kinda makes me feel all big and bad.

  105. Ann April 1, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    My kid (gasp) drinks from the WATER FOUNTAIN at the park.

    I’ve also been amused by kids needing snacks shoved in their faces every second of the day these days, when kids of my generation were somehow able to cope without them for extended periods of time. No wonder the kids I see (at the park!) running around, getting exercise, are so OBESE.

    My mom did take us to the park as kids as it was quite a far distance from where we lived. And she sat on the bench reading and ignoring us and never ever had any food available. It would have been insane for us to even think of asking for something. If we got hungry, it was time to leave and we sure didn’t want that.

  106. Nan April 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    During the summer months, my friends and I get together with our kids and hang out at the park. We bring a lunch and let the kids all play together while the mom’s get to (try) and sit back and relax. We are there sometimes for up to 4 hours. In that case, we do have food or snacks.

    When I just go to the park with my kids, we don’t bring snacks. If it is warmer weather, we do bring water. Actually we live across the street from the park, so if the kids are hungry, they come back home. 🙂 But if we visit a park that is within 30 mins of home, we don’t bring snacks unless we plan on being there for a couple hours or more.

    But this does get you thinking of all the times you overpack for “just in case”. Then you end up hardly using a thing. So I will try to not pack as much stuff when I go places, to make it easier. I have a little baby, and sometimes just put a diaper, wipes, and a couple baby snacks in a baggie and go to the store that way. It is so much nicer than hauling around a diaper bag for those quick trips.

  107. Beth April 1, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    @marie, just want to say I loved your post.

  108. Sharon Davids April 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I was at karate class and most of the kids were age 10-12 years old. Most started whining I want water in the middle of a not intense class. The instructor said if you can’t make it through a fifty minute class without water you don’t need this belt.

    I may have a water bottle available after class especially after the temperature is above 80. Otherwise she can have and after dinner snack or lunch after karate class.

  109. SKL April 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    When my kids were under 2, I used to keep a “diaper bag” always stocked with a few basics, including boxed milk (the kind you don’t have to keep cold) and some simple but nutritious snacks. As a single mom, I had to take my kids on every errand, and sometimes we’d get stuck out of the house well past meal time. I don’t like keeping tots hungry to the point of crying. The bag was retired before my youngest turned 2, as my kids no longer required any special kid stuff in order to eat or use the bathroom.

    I’ve never been one to carry water around. My kids learned how to drink out of a fountain rather young. Thankfully it is usually easy to find a water fountain around.

  110. SKL April 1, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Re karate class, I’ve only ever seen 1 kid ask for water, and that was during a belt test. The teacher said no. It would be too much of a distraction.

  111. Emily April 1, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Another thing–did it occur to anyone that kids might be asking for snacks at the park out of boredom rather than hunger? This could be another symptom of playground equipment becoming too stiflingly safe, unlike the tire swings, board-and-chain bridges, tall metal slides, fire poles, high monkey bars, teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, and Twirlybirds of my youth. As fast-food and junk-food sizes are growing, playground equipment is shrinking, all in the name of “safety,” and kids are outgrowing it (physically and developmentally) that much faster. So, this is just a theory, but it kind of feels like the options (from a kid’s point of view) have slowly transitioned from “play on the tall, exciting, challenging-for-all-ages-but-slightly-dangerous-if-you’re-not-careful playground equipment, or go home for a healthy meal,” to “play on boring plastic toddler equipment that’s ‘safety-approved,’ or go see if Mom has Dunkaroos for us.” Guess what? Wimpy plastic slides just can’t compete with Dunkaroos when it comes to “kid appeal.” Now, okay, some kids might still want to stay at the park if no snacks are readily available, because imaginative play (with and without the equipment), or shooting hoops, playing catch, etc., are still possible, but honestly, when I was a kid, I didn’t like playing on babyish equipment (nor did most kids I knew), so if that was all that was available, and I knew that there were snacks to be had, I’d probably angle for the latter option.

  112. SKL April 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    My kids never asked for snacks out of boredom, because they knew the answer would be “no.” Boredom has never been a trigger for snack serving in my family. I doubt it would occur to my kids to even try.

    If they are bored with the equipment, they huddle and figure out some new evil scheme. Like the other day when they decided that they could go down the slide faster if they put snow under their butts. After eating some of the snow, of course. And then the trick of taking off their shoes/boots to run up the slide in their socks – resulting in a thousand lovely splinters stuck in said socks.

  113. Amanda Matthews April 1, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    I often get wrapped up in what I’m doing (especially something fun) and go too long without eating, and get headaches, shaky, irritable, feel like I’m going to pass out etc. So I have a granola bar, a couple of fruits or vegetables, or some trail mix (in a disposable bag) in my bag if I’m going to be going somewhere that’s a possibility (The playground 2 blocks away? No, we can walk home if I start to feel that way. The playground that takes 30 minutes to walk home from? No, by the time I start feeling like that, 30 minutes is too long to wait. Somewhere we have to drive to? I’m not going to drive when I feel like I’m going to pass out.) No containers to remember, and the bag never gets so full (even with 4 kids) that we can’t walk or bike. A bag that full goes beyond snack in my book, and goes into meal territory; not that there’s anything wrong with having a picnic lunch in the park!

    It’s true that I didn’t have a mother that always took snacks when I was a kid. But I had crippling headaches and random irritability as a kid. I see no reason to subject my kids to that and then get mad at them for being irritable. Oh, and my mother was (/is) obese despite not carrying around snacks.

    I also generally take a water bottle. Yes there are fountains at the park, but not on the walk there and back. And I don’t want to drink out of the same fountain as a bunch of dirty kids who may not use the fountain correctly. My kids are fine with it, though.

    (If the kids are out without me, they generally don’t take snacks nor water unless they have some special snack they want to share. They come back if they want some, or get some water from a fountain or a drink or snack from a friend. This sometimes makes me feel bad because their friends will rarely take the drinks or snacks I offer.)

    I think the adults saying no snacks is just as bad as forcing the kids to stop playing to snack. As an adult those kids are going to be deciding for themselves when to eat and drink. If they don’t carry something around, they can buy something. So isn’t it better to have those snacks on hand, to let the child listen to their body and get a snack when they feel they need it? Water and fruits or vegetables at the park is worlds apart from Doritos in front of the TV. If a kid gets the urge to drink some water and eat some carrot sticks every time they run around for a few hours, that’s nothing but good in my book.

  114. Emily April 1, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    @Amanda Matthews–Good point. In fact, I often take snacks with me, even as an adult, because I’m mildly anemic, and I get shaky when I don’t have enough protein/iron in my body. In university, I’d often buy a single-serving packet of flavoured peanuts to take with me to the painting studio, because I’d get absorbed in my work, lose track of the time, and end up feeling faint. Right now, I often take snacks with me (usually a granola bar and a piece of fruit) when I go to the gym, because my gym has a lot of good qualities (good classes, and the pool is pretty much always available), but it doesn’t have a juice bar (yet), and there’s no place in the shopping centre/plaza surrounding it to get something like a Clif Bar (there’s a Target opening there this coming summer, but that doesn’t help me now). So, I agree with you–there’s a difference between a perpetual feeding frenzy, and just simply planning ahead for times when you know you might get hungry.

  115. BL April 1, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    “Because spending lots of time analyzing the McDs menu for hidden gems kinda defeats the point of fast food? Because not everyone is real bright, heck, not everyone can read?”

    Are you talking about your, um, customers? Or your friends and acquaintances?

    If criminals are obese and unhealthy, I’m not going to waste pity on them. It probably makes them less effective criminals anyway.

  116. Jessica April 1, 2014 at 8:59 pm #


    Hmmm, I guess I haven’t been exposed to the “snacking culture” amongst kids yet. My baby is only 8 months old, and with the cold weather we haven’t gone to the park at all. I remember, though, when I tutored kids at an elementary school, the kids were given snacks after school. They were definitely not healthy snacks! It was always processed junk food. I hope someday this stuff is removed from school snack time and school lunches. School food is depressingly unhealthy.

  117. Jessica April 1, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    The snack thing has been on my mind because I gave up snacks/treats for Lent. The first couple weeks were hard – then I realized how much I was grabbing a bite of this and a handful of that, especially during busy season at work. Now I’m used to it, and I still eye that ice cream but I know which meals keep me full and which ones make me shaky and hungry mid afternoon.

    So now my poor children are suffering – they eat lunch at 12 or 12:30 and get a snack around 3 at aftercare. A couple nights a week they go to taekwondo. I used to bring a second snack for them to eat around 5 on the way, but really? 4-5 hours without food? Snack at 3 and dinner at 7:30 is not outrageous. The most amazing thing happened the first night with no snack – they ate ALL their dinner, including vegetables. I’m sold!

  118. Papilio April 2, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Re “hungry” for a snack: is there no other word to distinguish hunger-wanting-a-snack/sweet/cookie from hunger-needing-a-meal?

    @Amanda: “The playground that takes 30 minutes to walk home from” (…) “… that we can’t walk or bike.”
    I feel SO Dutch asking this, but: why would you walk 30 minutes if you can bike? Or is it not an option for this particular destination for some reason?

    @SKL: Waaay off-topic, but it’s kinda weird to read about snow ‘the other day’ when it’s ~20 C and sunny over here!

  119. Reziac April 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    I don’t recall mom and/or dad EVER going with us to the park, except when we went to one that was several miles away so we drove there. (That one had GIANT swings not available elsewhere. A kid with ordinary swingset competence could easily get 10-12 feet in the air.) If we wanted snacks, we stuck something in a pocket on our way out the door (most likely a peanut-butter sandwich we had to make for ourselves). We knew where the faucet was at the park and we drank out of it just like everyone else.

    Wouldn’t all THAT give today’s parents the vapors!

  120. Amanda Matthews April 2, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

    “I feel SO Dutch asking this, but: why would you walk 30 minutes if you can bike?”

    Because I don’t have a bike. The kids each have one, but mine was stolen a couple years ago (while it was in my parents’ garage; they live in a very different neighborhood than I do) and a new one hasn’t been in the budget yet, because I’d also have to get a bike trailer for my youngest kid (he’s autistic and can’t ride very well).

    So the kids can bike to that playground (if the youngest isn’t going with them) but it isn’t an option for me right now.

  121. Papilio April 2, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

    @Amanda: “Because I don’t have a bike.” Okay, that certainly explains it! 🙂
    A bike trailer or an “aanhangfiets”? (See Google Images) (No idea if those things are even available in the US though…)

  122. Amanda Matthews April 2, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    “I don’t recall mom and/or dad EVER going with us to the park,”

    Same here… BUT, the main park here (the one that is a 30 minute walk away) is like a community hub. There’s a playground, where most kids play without adults, but there’s also a lot of other things; There’s a dog area where dogs are allowed to play off-leash. In the pleasant-weather months there are free concerts and a farmers market held there. At the beginning of fall there’s a huge craft fair that is organized by the local Boy Scout troop, where local people sell crafts. various other events are held there as well. There’s a sign at the front of the park that lists upcoming community events, and/or community news.

    When I was a kid, the playground I went to was at a school building that was no longer used as a school, with a bit of “woods” behind it that was actually overgrown weeds the city didn’t bother to maintain. There wasn’t even somewhere for parents to sit a bit away from the kids and socialize with each other; any parent there, would be there purely to hover.

  123. SKL April 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    Papilio, a facebook friend out west just mentioned that they’re expecting another 8-12 inches of snow today.

    I’m hoping we’re done with the accumulating snow here, but you never know. One Easter we got 30 inches overnight.

  124. marie April 2, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    “I don’t recall mom and/or dad EVER going with us to the park,”

    I was a country kid and Mom sent us outside every chance she had. If we were too noisy she sent us out. If we were too whiny, we went out before she found work for us to do. If we were too rowdy, she sent us out. If she wanted to be alone, she sent us out. I don’t remember her locking the door behind us, but who would have blamed her? Back then, NOBODY. 🙂

    Outside, we had haystacks to climb and fence rails to walk on. Haymow to play in and sometimes jump out of. Groves of trees to explore, barbed wire fences to cross. It was heaven.

  125. Kaetlyn April 2, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    I totally support this concept, and am naturally inclined not to pack snacks/drinks when we go to the park. But if we’re meeting up with friends i do bring snacks, simply because my 3 and 1 year old kids practically drool on their friends’ food until the other mom feels awkward and offers to share. But maybe instead of caving in to the social pressure, i should start taking a stand!

  126. anonymous this time April 2, 2014 at 7:26 pm #

    “maybe instead of caving in to the social pressure, i should start taking a stand!”

    And maybe we can start to communicate to our kids why we choose to do what we do, and even if they whine and say it’s no fair, we’re not in this game for popularity points anyway, right?

    And if we “get looks” from other parents? Well, we’re familiar with those looks anyway. And no one calls the cops on a mom who doesn’t bring a snack, right? Again, explain your logic. “I want them to be hungry for a healthy dinner.”

    When I was a kid, all I heard between 4 and 6:30pm in my kitchen was, “No, you can’t have that (snack), it will spoil your dinner.”

    Nowadays we just assume dinner will be either spoiled, or on the run anyway, because we’re all going in seven directions. I think we’ve kind of given up on kids eating dinners we serve, and we don’t want them to tantrum, so we feed them before dinner.

    I remember being REALLY HUNGRY before dinner at my house. REALLY HUNGRY. I whined. A lot. God bless my parents for not giving in to me.

    I have a 13-year-old who just stuffs his face with whatever. What am I going to do? I figure my job is to offer a healthy dinner. I can’t control what he does with friends after school. Often he stops by his dad’s house and eats a whole dinner there, then comes to my house and eats again. At a certain point, we can’t control them.

  127. pentamom April 2, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    Papilio — they’re called “ride along bikes” in the U.S. And yes, we have them, but they’re not all that common. But it does sound like a good solution.

    I never before thought of Googling for an image of a foreign word like that. Now I feel dumb, but thanks for the tip!

  128. SKL April 2, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    When my kids used to point out that other kids got to do / have stuff I didn’t allow, I’d just say, “I am not ___’s mother; I’m not in charge of him, I’m in charge of you.” I’d tell my kids why I made the choices I made and redirect their attention.

  129. Papilio April 3, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    @pentamom: Yes, it’s very handy for whenever you guys are talking about an object – pictures are so much better than dictionary descriptions!

    @SKL: After the very, VERY, unusually soft winter we’ve had here (basically a long dry fall directly followed by spring), I’m slightly jealous. But then again I like snow. Could be a consequence of living so close to the North Sea I never get much of it…

  130. Jenny C. April 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    I’m sorry, but *how* exactly is the topic of snacks related to free-ranging kids? Lenore, I think you really over-stepped it with this post and you’ve lost me as a fan. Let’s just try assuming that most moms are doing the best they can and they are providing snacks because their child’s body needs food. And the category “skinny kids” listed at the end? Not okay. Yes, kids who are skinny can be healthy, but so can fat kids. Health isn’t about appearance. Let’s try to separate those two things in the future instead of contributing to weight bias and discrimination. Now that would be way more helpful than adding further fuel to the fire of the mommy-wars by encouraging this type of judgmental crap.

  131. Andrea April 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Oh man, another one that’s music to my ears. Really, I totally admire my friends who can put together a sweet snack spread at a moment’s notice, but it does become a challenge to keep a snack-lite family when you’re going to hang out with a snack-happy family and they’ve got a spread fit for a magazine shoot, and all you have is a Cliff Bar that’s been sitting in the car for a couple months. Then my kids are drooling, and maybe they get to share some, but they ask later why we don’t ever have such nice snacks, and why don’t I bake as much as so-and-so’s mom? It’s tricky to navigate this part of Keeping Up With the Joneses because kids don’t necessarily get it. They don’t have memories of the carefree eighties, when we didn’t ever even bring water anywhere unless we were going camping.

    I do think it’s germane to Free Range — the idea that kids can go off and do their thing and survive without a parent’s bag full of supplies constantly stocked and available at a moment’s notice to satisfy their every whim or want.