How do you talk about food?
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  1. #1
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    Default How do you talk about food?

    For those of you who provide meals...

    When you have prospective parents visit you, how do you discuss food? I always used to have a sample weekly menu to show parents, but since covid I haven't been flapping bits of paper at them, apart from my certificates which have been laid out on the garden table in plastic wallets. They can see the menu and then I guess it might either put them off or give them comfort.

    I have always had parents who obviously want generally healthy food and leave it up to me to decide what we have from there. I always know that they won't mind if we have the occasional less than perfect meal, for example, if we get back from the woods late and I need to rustle up something quick - everything in moderation. However, a family that I had round the other day, well, I'm not sure they really knew how a childminder works, I think they really need a nanny. We were chatting generally about food and, reflecting upon it, I'm wondering if I gave them the wrong impression. I asked about diet and then the requests started happening. It was quite obvious that they did not expect any processed, quick food, like a sandwich. Only brown rice or wholewheat pasta, fresh meat or fish etc. When I first started minding, I foolishly used to cook both lunch and dinner from scratch and I was exhausted. Then I realised that there was nothing wrong (in my eyes) with a baked potato and cheese and beans, or a sandwich with raw veg and fruit for lunch, followed by a cooked meal for tea. Quite often we do have a cooked lunch prepped from scratch as well, but I don't want to be tied to that. We only have white pasta and rice, as does my mindee.

    So, when and how do you discuss food/meals with new parents? Do you tell them what you will and will not be doing/serve? I'm thinking I need to be a bit more proactive in future so that I don't feel myself sinking like I did with these parents, lol. Bless them, they weren't rude, just gently forceful.

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    When I have an enquiry from a prospective parent I send them my information sheet. It gives general information about coming for a visit, requesting a place, settling in sessions, payments, the sort of activities we do during the day, how I share information and the sort of food I supply. It means parents already have the basic information before they come for a visit. We can then go into more detail about anything they want to clarify. If they don’t like what they see, they don't come for a visit!

    I only provide lunch and snacks. Lunch is usually either a sandwich, jacket potato, pasta or something on toast. With it I give raw veg, fruit and sometimes yoghurt or jelly. We’ll occasionally have a treat (eg. For a birthday) when we’ll have cake, sausage rolls, crisps etc. I tell them all that in the info sheet.

    Then, before a child starts, I send parents a list of all the food and drink I might provide and ask them to mark what their child can eat, can’t eat, won’t eat, or they’d prefer I wouldn’t let them eat. It means they can still say no to anything they really don’t want their child to have and it’s not normally a problem for me to comply with it.

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    Pretty much the same as Mouse! Except I do a cooked tea for everyone.

    I also tell parents that if we're out for the day then we might have fish and chips for lunch ( and I take raw veg/ fruit etc along too ) or lunch out. And occasionally we might have McDonald's... but very very rarely .... as not one anywhere we generally go!

    Parents always seem fine, and say i get the children to eat a more varied diet than they do. I aim to have brown bread/ rice/ pasta, but not always, and most meals are cooked from scratch, but I do a lot of 'slow cooker' type meals.

    When I have a baby or little one starting, I usually ask parents to provide meals for first few days/ weeks, so that food is at least familiar for them, and I can see how much they are expecting them to eat, how mushed or not it is, and what sort of food they eat! I can then take it from there. Over lockdown last year, I asked that the children brought their own pack lunches ( and I still cooked tea ) and it was fascinating to see what they did/ didn't eat !!!

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    Thanks ladies. That's really interesting. I guess I should send something out before the meeting - it's just never been an issue before.

    I might give brown rice and pasta another try too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maza View Post
    Thanks ladies. That's really interesting. I guess I should send something out before the meeting - it's just never been an issue before.

    I might give brown rice and pasta another try too.

    I quite like brown rice ... but it takes a bit of cooking! I'm not struck on brown pasta to be honest, but the children eat it happily enough !!!

    I've remembered that years back I had one mum who 'asked' that everything be organic. I said that she was at liberty to provide organic food for her own child, but that I prefered to buy seasonally and locally ( when possible, but not ruling out organic food ) She said that would be 'ok' ... I got the feeling she liked saying it, more than actually following through, from what her child told me he ate Like another parent who asked if I could include more oily fish in my menu. I said I could try, but we already have oily fish at least once, usually twice a week ( and I only work 4 days ) and that in her child only came ONE day a week, they would have oily fish probably twice out of a total of 8 meals. She said she found it too hard to do at home

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    It's been a while since I have had to do new parent visits as the new children have been siblings of current children but have a prospective new parent so this has made me think a bit about what info I share pre visit. As far a meals go I provide a cooked lunch and light tea plus snacks, I now have a 3 week lunch menu that I follow as after talking with parents they found it helpful to know what meals their child would be having so they could plan their meals at home and I have found it easier with shopping etc. I have one child thats vegetarian and all meals are easily adapted for them and sometimes they all have the same anyway eg Quorn nuggets.

    Have you taken on this prospective family yet Maza or is it still ongoing?
    Pixie Dust

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    I didn't take them on Pixie. My head was spinning when they left, and in fact, part way through the meeting I just thought 'get me out of here', so I listened to my instincts. She came on a Saturday morning and sent me a text to say I would be receiving an email over the weekend - didn't give me a hint about which way the meeting went! Anyway, she didn't email until Monday afternoon, by which time I had happily written them off, thinking that they didn't want me. Anyway, they did want me, but I'm wondering if it took them so long to respond because they were weighing up other childcare options - which is fair enough. The email listed more 'rules'. I emailed her back saying that I didn't feel like I was the right setting, very politely of course, and pointed her in the direction of other places she could look. She emailed me straight back and asked if there was something specific - that maybe she could 'budge' on. That was the thing though - in the meeting, they didn't seem like there was any 'budge' room at all, they were so principled and rigid and I just felt like they would be hard work and make me feel like I was disappointing them every day. I don't want any family to come here and feel like they have to 'budge' - just be more realistic in the first place. It felt that her child's needs would over ride the needs of all the other children, because there was no flexibility on their part. It was also clear that she was in no way going to prepare the little one for sleep time routines. I almost felt like they found me a 'soft touch' and were pushing me by adding more and more constraints.

    Don't get me wrong, they were a sweet family to each other, just the type of family who need to employ a nanny in my opinion.

    I mentioned quorn, but she doesn't allow it. I love quorn.

    I spent soooo long typing up my email to her, trying not to offend her, and I felt so bad. I had to remind myself though, that parents think nothing about turning us down.

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    Think you've dodged something there Maza! Well done!

    In my experience, if parents have had to alter their 'vision', on the whole, they are not completely happy. ( a parent who said she loved the idea that her children would be outdoors a lot of the time, getting muddy etc, REALLY struggled in 'real life' ... it got a bit better once I persuaded her that white outfits were not ideal for mine, and to have 'loocyloo' clothes, almost a uniform as such ( !!! ) along with all in one suits and wellies that lived at mine, that whilst she saw the muddy photos, she didn't have to deal with the muddy gear !!!! even after 2 children and a fair few years with me, i always felt slightly on tenterhooks that she'd be cross about the state of their clothing! ( Carrot soup all over a pristine white jumper ... EVEN though child was wearing a sleeved bib AND a pelican bib ... that was when she accepted life at mine !!! )

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    You definitely made the right decision there Maza.

    I do think your family needs a nanny who they can employ to do things exactly as they want. There are childminders out there who offer the whole eco-friendly package, but I would imagine their places are snapped up quickly by similarly minded families.

    Hopefully you'll have better luck with the next family

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
    You definitely made the right decision there Maza.

    I do think your family needs a nanny who they can employ to do things exactly as they want. There are childminders out there who offer the whole eco-friendly package, but I would imagine their places are snapped up quickly by similarly minded families.

    Hopefully you'll have better luck with the next family
    It isn't that I'm anti eco-friendly (I know that's not what you were saying, lol). I'm not anti attachment parenting either. It was more about their overall manner. They actually grimaced a few times in general conversation, for example, I mentioned a medicine that I used to give my DD for a particular ailment and mum shuddered and said she couldn't give that, because it was full of sugar, the devil's food. Lots more similar comments, which I won't bore you with, but they would have ended up making me feel rubbish about my own parenting style.

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    Definitely sounds like this family would have caused you a lot of stress and you wouldn't have enjoyed your job so much. I always remember a mum who came to visit a couple of years ago now who I knew straight away that I wouldn't get along with by the time she had made her mind up the place up gone. Whilst she was visiting she was forever correcting the child's speech making sure they were pronouncing everything properly she made the poor child say 'banana' repeatedly until he said 'b' at the beginning clearly. I see them regularly on the school run, she has extended her family a few times now as there are quite a large family now and I was think to myself what a lucky escape
    Pixie Dust

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