Recently a mom friend of mine was talking about her kids and how one of them wanted a certain not-so-great cereal all the time – breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Having a picky eater myself, I know that struggle is real. However, it made me appreciate a rule about cereal that my hubby and I decided on for our home before our boys had ever had any.
When Brad and I first met, he was not a breakfast eater. However, once we were married, he got into the habit of at least having something, mostly because I HAVE to eat breakfast, and he would have breakfast with me.
At some point, either when I was pregnant with Elijah or shortly after he was born, Brad and I had a discussion about breakfast and what cereals we would allow our children to eat. Being the more health-conscious parent, my rules were no artificial dyes and lower sugar content, with more natural, nutritious, and organic options being preferred.
Brad, however, made a stand for allowing fun cereals, or what we call “junk cereals,” at least on occasion. Junk cereals would be all the ones you always wanted as a kid – you know, they have an engaging mascot on a brightly colored box that usually advertises an exciting “prize” hidden among the not-good-for-you-at-all-but-delicious-and-sugary O’s, flakes, or clusters.
Bringing in a good dose of nostalgia to his arguments, Brad painted the picture of waking early on a Saturday morning and enjoying that type of cereal while watching cartoons in your pajamas.
“They at least need that option on Saturday,” he stated. He wanted his children to have those fun memories that he did. Either that, or he just wanted that kind of cereal for himself. Haha. I think it was both.
So we reached a compromise: Junk Cereal Saturday.
Since that day, our boys have both grown up knowing that Sunday through Friday, they have to pick from our healthiest options on the days we eat cereal (Cereal or oatmeal are usually the go-to, especially on school days. Bigger breakfasts with eggs, pancakes, or something more involved happen when I have more time in the mornings.)
We have no whining or begging for those “fun” cereals because they know the Junk Cereal Saturday rule, and like anything else with parenting, when you lay out the guidelines and stick to them without wavering from the start, the kids are less likely to push those boundaries. The few times that the boys have asked for a junk cereal during the week, all we have to do is remind them that that particular cereal is for Saturday.
Because of this, Saturday is extra special for our boys, and they get genuinely excited when they remember that it’s Junk Cereal day. They get to indulge in the fun cereals, and they love it.
Of course, being the sneaky Mom that I am, I still make sure that even our “junk cereals” are relatively healthy. There are so many options now for more natural, dye-free cereals that look fun and taste yummy that it’s pretty easy. We love Kashi, Barbara’s, Cascadian Farms, Mom’s Best, and Aldi’s Simply Nature. Since they only eat junk cereal once a week, it lasts, too, so even if it’s not on sale, we aren’t spending too much. (But I always stock up when good cereal is on sale or I have a coupon!) I’ve even had the boys ask me if a certain cereal is “junk cereal,” hoping that it is, and I just say, “Sure. It can be,” even when, in my mind, it isn’t. Haha.
Knowing that they get to look forward to a special cereal on a day that they can really enjoy it makes my boys’ choices (and attitudes) in the morning easier every day of the week. Knowing that my boys aren’t filling up on empty calories and junk that their growing little bodies don’t need (and we don’t need either) makes my morning easier. Having a guideline set out that we all know and accept makes the mornings easier for us all.
And yes, on most Saturdays, you can find my boys in their pajamas, munching on their special cereal, and watching their cartoons with Mommy and Daddy, enjoying Junk Cereal Saturday to the fullest.