Your son wins his baseball game and you say, “Let’s go out for ice cream!” Your toddler wakes up dry for the fifth night in a row and you say, “Great job, honey. Here’s the cookie I promised you!” Your daughter’s running late. Again. “If you get in the car right now, we’ll get milkshakes on the way home!”
I’m that mom too! Sometimes you do whatever it takes to motivate or congratulate your kids. But with the prevalence of added sugar in everything from their morning yogurt to the barbecue sauce on their chicken nuggets, we, their Mamas, have to act as gate keepers. My husband and I just completed 30 days with NO sugar, not a speck! It was so hard!!!! Now that it’s done, we could go back to our old routines. But I’ve found that eating a donut now causes me physical pain… in the form of a stomach ache. Yes, it’s sad. Surprisingly, I’m actually really okay with it. When I want something sweet now, I’ll make a fruit smoothie or eat some berries. It’s incredible how much sweeter fruit tastes when you’re not comparing it to a bowl of chocolate ice cream! But this journey has brought up some interesting moments as it concerns our tendency to celebrate with food.
How To Have a Good Time Without All The Sugar
A couple of times in the early weeks of our challenge, we still took our daughters out for ice cream or to the bakery for a cookie. It was familiar and I’d find myself there out of habit. Once I realized going to the froyo place was only going to make it harder for me, we decided to find other ways to be together as a family without reverting to sugar. Google didn’t have much helpful info on this subject, so we got creative and I’m going to share our favorite ideas with you today.
8 Ways To Celebrate Without Sugar
Visit A Landmark
A river, lake, or mountain would be a great place to visit and spend an afternoon. And it’s free which makes it twice as awesome! The world is incredible and while you might like to visit somewhere different, there are people out there who want nothing more than to visit the place where you live. So be a tourist for an afternoon and explore your city or county. Visit a local county or state park. Hike, swim, take pictures and enjoy the time together as a family. I guarantee your kids will love this even more than a trip to the ice cream shop. And they’ll remember it infinitely longer.
Visit An Attraction
Maybe you live near a theme park, zoo, or another touristy place. In my hometown, we have a small railroad company that puts on themed 1- or 2-hour excursions. My daughters love getting on the train and, even though we don’t even travel five miles from home, that ride becomes the highlight of the whole month.
Purchase A Lasting ‘Treat’
Take a trip together to a shop you don’t usually visit and purchase a new piece of clothing, shoes, a book, or a new toy. It doesn’t have to be big or cost more than a few dollars. My kids love to visit a bookstore where my oldest will usually choose a new reader and my youngest will choose a new stuffed animal. (You know the ones, those new beanie baby animals with giant glittery eyes… Yeah, we have a small army of them.) My daughters also love to pick out their shoes or clothes so when they need new ones, we make it into a big thing. They get a ‘special treat’ and I get to spend only money I needed to spend anyway!
Take Advantage of Free-For-Kids Activites
Especially during the summer months! Our bowling alley offers free daily bowling for kids under 18, the movie theaters have weekly free matinees, and many restaurants offer free-for-kids days or evenings each week. These can be excellent ways to get out and have fun with your kiddos while also saving money, which I’m all about, you guys! The cost of an outing doesn’t affect it’s specialness one bit!
Make Something At Home
Make your own popsicles by filling molds with this smoothie recipe. Use bananas instead of honey and you’ve got a 5-minute sugar-free treat that your kids will definitely love! One ingredient sugar-free ice cream? Done. How about some fresh berries with lightly sweetened whipped cream? See the common thread here? Fruit! Let them enjoy the bounties of summer straight from the bush/tree/vine. I can almost hear you saying, “but Jessi, fruit has sugar too!” I know, I know. But it also has fiber and micronutrients that your kids’ bodies need. Maybe they shouldn’t eat only fruit, but 2 servings of fruit, especially when secretly mixed with spinach, is definitely good for them.
Let Them Organize A Party
I don’t know about your kids, but mine love to be in charge! The idea of planning their own tea party or backyard pool party and inviting all their friends or cousins over would be the coolest thing since learning to butter their own toast! Let them do the invitations, the decorations, and the activity planning. And if you’re a ‘planning’ mom, do your best not to take over 😉 If they want to hang the Frozen decorations from 2 years ago with the Spiderman table cloth they found in the closet, let them! It’s their party and half the fun is in making it happen.
Get A Little Messy
Water balloon fight anyone? How about these totally washable chalk bombs? (Honestly, I hate these things, but my kids… my kids LOVE them…) You can paint a window with shaving cream paint and spray it all off when you’re done. There’s something magical about kids and messes. And when you, the stop-that-I-don’t-want-to-clean-it-up-again Mama join in on the fun, I guarantee they won’t forget it easily.
The Next Time You Need A Reward or Treat
This list includes things you probably won’t do every day, but that’s okay! You wouldn’t go out for ice cream every day (I hope!) But the next time you need a treat or a special reward or *ahem* a bribe, remember these ideas. You’ll have one very happy kiddo on your hands and you’ll still get them to bed on time without the sugar-high plummet tantrum. –You’re welcome–
What would you add to this list? I’d love to add a few new ideas to my sugar-free arsenal! Let me know in the comments.