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How to enjoy family meal times in the holidays!

Posted in Feeding the family , Parenting, School holidays on Fri Jun 17 2022

The summer holidays are fast approaching. Six weeks of having the children at
home. Six weeks of entertainment to sort. Six weeks of juggling work, packing for a
trip and spending time with your children. Six weeks of completely unpredictable
weather and unpredictable moods! If you've got younger children, six weeks without
your usual playgroups and activities. It’s also six weeks of constant demands for
food. Six weeks of eating at strange times. And, six weeks of concern over a chips
and ice cream only diet.
Why do we call it a holiday when we have children? There’s no break involved is
there?! It’s just a change of routine and, hopefully, a change of scene.
How then can we enjoy family mealtimes over the summer rather than letting them
ruin the holiday?

Remove the pressure
Whether you’ve got a trip planned or are spending the summer holiday at home with
day trips and activities, it’s all too easy to put pressure on ourselves to create the
ideal holiday for our family, where our children are immaculately behaved, the
weather is wonderful, the roads are clear and airport security has no queues,
everyone sleeps well despite the heat and our children eat everything on offer without
a fuss.
So, when things inevitably don’t go to plan some days, we can feel deflated,
frustrated and upset. So, let’s start the holiday right by lowering our expectations and
reducing the pressure on ourselves. What will be will be and it’s OK to go with the
flow in the moment.
And, when it comes to mealtimes, taking the pressure off is important whether we’re
on holiday or not. Taking the pressure off reduces our stress, allows us to be calm
and relaxed and sets the right environment for our children to explore more foods.
Children go on a journey of exploration with food as they learn that new foods are
safe and enjoyable and become comfortable enough to try them. Food can be scary
at home, so food in an unfamiliar environment cooked by someone different can be
even more scary and challenging, even if that’s a food they’d normally gobble up at
home. Understanding the anxiety this can place on your child is a great first step to
enjoying family mealtimes when you’re on holiday.
Your responsibility is to provide food on a regular basis and your child is responsible
for what and how much of that they eat. At mealtimes, remember these magic words
“you don’t have to eat it” as they will support your child and you might be surprised by
just how much more they may be willing to try.

Ditch the routine
One of the suggestions I make to pretty much every parent I work with is to establish
a meal and snack routine for their children. It’s crucial in helping them to eat well.
But, I’m going to contradict myself now and tell you that, on holiday, if your child is
struggling with food, you need to let go of the routine. Give in to your child’s requests
for food when they feel they need it and are comfortable eating it. Having a stash of
familiar snacks in your suitcase that you can carry around in a day bag as well as
picking up favourite fruits from a local shop or market, can make all the difference.
Don’t worry then if they’re not eating when you’re out as with some snacks in their
belly they are likely to be happier to sit with you, nibble on some bread and explore
your food when they’re ready, allowing you to enjoy your meal so much more.
Establish a routine now and once home you can slip right back into it and return to
supporting them to eat a more balanced diet and a wider variety of foods.

Have fun
Making mealtimes fun and sociable distracts children from the pressure of having to
eat. Eating whilst on holiday offers plenty of opportunities to spot new or different
things, to talk about these as well as learn about a different culture and language, so
use this to your advantage.
Games of eye spy, counting how many people are wearing hats, encouraging them to
order their own drink, asking for the bill, tapping the card for payment or handing over
some cash will entertain them and helps keep them seated and maybe even tasting
something different whilst waiting to do their important job!

Down time
Being somewhere strange, out of routine, in a different climate, surrounded by
strange people and voices can be overwhelming for children and this can impact on
their ability to eat so planning in some down time at your accommodation allows
them time to recover and hopefully eat something once relaxed.
Planning your day and meals around this down time can be useful, perhaps eating
out for two meals and having one ‘picnic’ meal where you are staying. It also helps
keep costs down.

Whilst water is best for children, if they’re not eating well, it’s important to keep their
fluids up in whatever way you can. Encourage them to drink water as often as
possible (a straw can help get more down) but freshly squeezed orange juice (with
the bits) and smoothies will help with hydration as well as provide some energy and
fibre to keep the hanger and constipation at bay. Sucking on ice cubes (whilst
monitored) is not only fun but also a sneaky way of getting water in.

Wherever you’re headed and whatever activities you’ve planned for this summer, have
a great holiday!

If this is something that you has really resonated with you why not join Sarahs master class on Wednesday 22nd June - Find out more !

Meet the Author !!

Sarah Alder of Kitchen Titbits is a family mealtimes mentor; helping parents
transform mealtimes from stressful to stress-free.
She specialises in working with parents on the practical aspects of family mealtimes.
She will help you to support your fussy eater to develop a love of food and your child
to eat a wider variety of foods, but also work with you on how the whole family can
have fun at mealtimes and enjoy quality family time together whilst sharing food or
cooking together. 
She combines this with teaching key skills around meal planning and reducing food
waste to help you feel more organised and in control in the kitchen, making best use
of your time, energy and ingredients. Whilst her cookery sessions build confidence
and her recipes provide inspiration, helping you answer that age old question of
‘what’s for dinner?’!

To find out more about Sarah, her courses, workshops and online courses, visit her

You can also follow her on social media:


And she shares her tips and advice in her free Facebook group: