Having grown up in the wonderful Midwest, home of the 8-month Winter, I not-so-fondly remember spending countless school days stuck inside because we just couldn’t get outdoors for recess without risking frostbite, hail or snowball ambushes.
Raising my boys in Southern California is a different story, however. We are fortunate to live in a place where they can get outside in the fresh air 300+ days per year, including the great majority of their school days. But simply being able to get out and play is not enough. Providing them with the resources to thrive, and the energy to do so, is a critical mission that I take very seriously.
One of the things that still surprises me, as a parent, is how hungry my boys seem to be ALL DAY LONG.
Just woke up à They’re famished
Back home after school? I can hear their tummies rumbling like mini garbage disposals waiting to be filled.
And of course when the clock strikes 5:00pm I know that they’ll either soon turn into pumpkins or start swiping sneak previews from the counter of the dinner I’m always just a few minutes behind on preparing.
But there’s truly only one thing that I know will satiate them no matter the time of day. And no, it’s not gummy bears.
I know that I can steal those last five minutes of dinner prep, (which is really usually 10. OK, 15) needed to prepare their requisite evening noms with a quick glass of milk. Sure, those gummy bears might take less effort, but they’re worth it and it’s a great appetizer. Plus, I‘m fortunate that the Junior Dudes think receiving that tall, cool glass is a treat, even though they usually have it multiple times daily.
My older son, the 5 ½ year old Little Dude, can be a picky eater. And by “can be”, I mean has been every day of his life. We are fortunate to know that while he will likely enter Kindergarten without ever having tried pizza (entirely of his own volition), we never have to twist any arms for him to enjoy an apple, grapes or myriad other fruits.
As parents it’s important to appreciate winning the little battles even if the larger wars are lost more often than we’d prefer. I can admit that it took me a while to get used to the Little Dude’s preferred daily lunch of yogurt, fruit and rice cakes, which is certainly not the most exciting lunch option available to him. But I know now that I’m giving him the energy to refill his tank so he can get back outside to enjoy the sunshine while hiking, biking or just chasing his brother down the block.
I’m happy to share with you that I’m partnering up with the California Milk Advisory Board to tell you about their Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP 60) initiative, in association with the NFL. FUTP 60 is all about ensuring that kids get their full servings of nutrients the old school way: via dairy, fruits, grains and veggies while getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Also, to ensure that kids are getting exercise at school, they are offering schools grants up to $4,000 for the upcoming school year to support their health and wellness programs, featuring plays from the Fuel Up to Play 60 Playbook. To apply for a spring grant, visit for more info and to get your school involved. Grant deadline is June 16.
I was compensated by the California MilkAdvisory Board for this post, though unfortunately not in bricks of cheese or vats of sour cream. All opinions expressed within are my own, for better or worse.
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