Like all parents I want the best for my kids, I want them to have a healthy diet but I also want them to be able to enjoy treats. I find well timed bribes can work wonders and we are currently attempting potty training with the incentive of a “bedtime cake” for my son if he manages to stay dry for the whole day.
The problem I have with treats is that I am (slightly) fussy about what my children eat. When they’re older I’m sure they’ll point out my double standards to me – I am not a health nut, I eat chocolate and crisps; at the cinema my favourite pick and mix sweets are the neon green apple cables that are packed full of e-numbers and sugar – however, all that aside I don’t give my kids branded chocolate, they never have crisps or icecream in the house and they only get biscuits occasionally – usually when they have friends to play.
My husband would say I’m strict whereas I would say I’m careful. If we are at friend’s party or playgroup and everyone else is having sweets then of course our 2 don’t get left out. I’m not that mum who insists that her children sit on the side while all the others get cake and icecream, but I do see a massive difference in behaviour when my little darlings are up to their eyeballs in sugar. On the way back from a recent birthday party our 3 year old was manic, he kept trying to reach across to his little sister and consequently wasn’t sat safely in his car-seat; cue a massive telling off from daddy and the admission that maybe they do behave a lot worse when they’ve had too much of sugar.
The compromise I’ve settled on is that we make a lot of our own treats. Gingerbread biscuits, cupcakes, brownies etc. If I know exactly what has gone into something I am happier to give it as a treat. I do have a few blind spots – the food colourings and sprinkles I add to the icing for instance, but I hold my hand up about this and am not trying to pretend my cakes are completely additive free. A major advantage of making your own treats is being completely in control of portion size. I can cut my brownies into toddler sized pieces, use mini cutters for biscuits and – as I discovered this week – make teeny tiny cupcakes in petit four baking cases.
I am completely in love with these tiny cakes as they are a way of giving my children something that is recognisably a cake without worrying about splitting it between them or being tempted to have a bit myself. I got to play at icing them prettily and my son got to shake the sprinkles over them which he loved. Both my children enjoy baking and I find it a lovely rewarding way to spend time with them. I find I can cope with mess much better if I end up with something tasty as a result, than if the only outcome is salt dough squashed into the carpet. Fingers crossed they continue to enjoy baking and cooking as they grow up…