Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Parenting advice from my friend, MandyE

I bet you thought I'd stopped this series :)


This week's advice is from my other friend, Mandy.

This Mandy and the other Mandy drove (!) to meet up with me (and have holidays) in Charlotte, NC in 2012, and it was fabulous. We really need to make a plan again soonish.

Click to go see super adorable photos of the 4 kids. Be prepared for extreme cuteness! Mandy's kids were 3 and Mandy E's kids were 3.5.

Anyway, moving on.

Here are MandyE's top 3 parenting tips:

1.  Expose your children to lots of different types of food, early and often.  

I don't know if I just got lucky in this department, or if my approach really had something to do with our girls having very adventurous palates, but I am so grateful that they eat the same food we eat, and they really enjoy it.  I started the girls on "people food" (not baby food) when they were a year old.  I made a very conscious effort to serve them as wide a variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, stews, and casseroles as I could.  It wasn't long before I began to spice things the way we eat as a family.  The girls didn't always take to a new food the first time (or two or three) that I served it.  I once read it could take up to 10 times trying a new food for a child to accept it.  I always kept that in mind and kept plugging away.

I never make a big deal out of eating or not eating.  My mantra is, "This is what we're having for supper as a family."  I don't do special orders.  Usually the girls eat very well.  I don't praise them for it.  I might say, "I'm glad you enjoyed this meal.  The mushrooms are my very favorite part.  What's your favorite ingredient?"  If they don't eat, I don't scold them.  It's their choice, but they don't get another option.

We talk a lot about why we eat the types of food we do.  I involve the girls in shopping for our groceries, and they love to browse through cookbooks with me.  I hope I'm teaching them a healthy appreciation for food.  And it's a wonderful pleasure for me to enjoy a savory meal as a family of four!

2.  Never let 'em see you sweat.

This goes back to the days of dealing with two-year old tantrums, and I still (do my best to) follow this logic.  I try really hard not to let the girls know that something they're doing / not doing bothers me.  We have rules at our house, and if you break those rules, there are consequences.  I try to illustrate to them that it's their behavior driving the consequences...NOT how their behavior makes me feel.  I think this approach has resulted in less emotional drama at our house, and it forces me to keep my emotions in check, too.

(And to end on a lighter note...)

the hills are alive..... (this pic looks fake it's so beautiful!)

3.  Sing lots of songs.

When our girls were infants, I made up a song that spelled their names.  They could barely speak before they were spelling their names themselves!  That's how the girls learned the days of the week, the months of the year, the colors in the rainbow, and how "the perfect way to end the day is with nice clean teeth!" among many other things.  I'm NO singer by a long stretch, but this makes learning so much fun.  And if someone is in a sour mood, I start singing a silly song, and 9 times out of 10, they're joining in before I know it.

I adore Mandy's tips!

I've observed Mandy in action (in a non-weird way) and I can definitely tell you she has at least three parenting super-powers:

  1. she's instilled impeccable manners in those girls (I still remember them calling me Miss Marcia - the cuteness is too much!)
  2. she treats her girls with respect (as the people they are) and genuine care, and they in turn treat each other and others the same way. In Charlotte, I teased that she was the Pied Piper. Both sets of twins were glued to her side (if only I wasn't so lazy, I'd go get my external hard drive to find what I call the Pied Piper photos).
  3. Anyone who's had the opportunity to interact with Mandy knows she is such an encouragement and so generous of spirit. I'm honoured to call her my friend and when I see an email pop into my box, I start smiling in anticipation because I can't wait to read her words. The girls are the same way - they praise each other and I'm sure they do the same with other people too. Such a good trait to foster in our young ones - it's the kindness that people will remember a long time.
love you, Miss Mandy

Which was your favourite tip?
Which is the most challenging one for you?
(my favourite tip is the eating one! what can I say? I'm the same way about food, except one of mine still doesn't eat curry!)


  1. Thanks for the boost, Miss Marcia! I needed this tonight. :) :) Made me tear up, thinking about you!

    I love traveling this parenting journey with you (and MandyH!)...even if our roads rarely physically converge. <3

    1. It's such a pleasure! And all true xxx

  2. Funny enough we also have a lot the same food approach apart that they HAVE to eat their dinner meal. I think this stems from the fact that one of mine is on meds and have to eat. Funny enough I do not think this exposure necessary means kids will be adventurous eaters - I have one that will try anything (A) since babyhood, one that is ok with odd things (L) and one that is not (C). C is for instance the only one that does not eat sushi at all.

    1. There's two things about food - what they eat and their approach to food. I thing what they eat is based on what they're exposed to and their taste buds, but certainly how they approach food is up to us. If you're consistent with house rules and you don't cave, I think probably the kids will eat well...

  3. That third tip made me smile... my firstborn's first words at 9 months: "Mam, please don't sing"... I had no idea that children didn't speak so young, let alone in sentences. I must say, my singing confidence has never quite recovered!!! Kids are so funny!!!

    1. Too funny!
      I'm not a silly kind of person generally so when I act silly and do accents or similar, one gives me a look and the other just laughs!

    2. That is funny!!! Now that you mention it, I should really have a complex, too. B first laughed (a real, true belly laugh) when I was singing James Taylor. Hahaha!

  4. I am the same with the food, I always spiced the kids food as I cook so they were got used to the way they were "expected" to eat once we all sit down as a family to eat. Also they get served what is there for supper and if they don't like it or don't want it that's fine but I WILL NOT make them an alternate meal.

    I sing a lot of made up songs to my kids at bath time and when brushing teeth and getting ready etc... it never used to be an issue but recently Kade has been telling me to "stop singing" and when I ask why he says "it hurts my ears" LOL


    1. I remember when you and I met up for the first time, you said you had a curry in the slow cooker at home and I said, "KADE EATS CURRY?" :) you had the right idea!

  5. K got exposed to proper adult food and will still turn up her little nose sometimes or give me the look when I offer her certain foods. Lots of singing and dancing happens here .

    I have to remember not to key kids see you sweat!

    1. they know how to push our buttons. The peak of this behaviour happens at 4 (so far)...


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