In the great experiment that is online learning at our house, there is little room for me.
My online learner is a freshman in high school, not all that interested in coming out of her room, much less hanging out with her parents; we passed that mile marker a while back. Plus, she's extremely self-sufficient, handling her breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner on her own. With the exception of popping my head into her room to ask if she wants to watch an episode of Glow Up, or being available as a sounding board for her problems, concerns, excitement and joy, my role is much-reduced from even two years ago.
And that's all well and good. After all, I want to be out of job the time she's 18, right?
But this also can make it hard to find areas of positive, fun connection with Maxine.
Which is why, when tumbling around online a couple of weeks ago and spotting a Facebook post by a woman who had created a snack area for her little online learner, a lightbulb when off in my head.
My daughter does A LOT of snacking on school days. Between school sessions, or even during them, she'll often get up to stretch her legs by wandering into the kitchen in search of some sodium-packed treat. So, I thought, why not put out an attractive assortment of snacks for the day? Wouldn't that be relatively easy for me, and fun for her? And wouldn't this allow me to slowly incorporate more and more healthy choices into her diet?
So I did it. After hitting the grocery store, I made a little sign with her high school mascot on it, and gave it a snappy, non-hyperbolic title: "Maxine's Totally Awesome Snack Area That Her Mom Made Because Her Mom is Supercool."
Maxine is 15, so she doesn't emote warmly very much right now. She made fun of all the cheesy expressions I wrote on the sign — "Freshman Rock!" and "We are proud of you!" She rolled her eyes at the "supercool" part. But she loves it. I know she loves it because sometimes, before she walks out of her room in the morning, she'll ask, "Mom, is my snack area ready?" — like a little girl on Christmas morning who wants to make sure the stockings have been filled.
I also know she loves it because .6 seconds after she saw the snack area for the first time, she took a video on her phone and Snapchatted it to her friends.
"You have the best mom ever!" she heard back.
Go ahead: Steal It! I did.
If you want to make your own snack area, here are some tips:
Consider expanding the snack area to a shelf in your fridge for items that need to be kept cool. I've reduced the number of bagged chips and incorporated apple sauce, black olives, carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, celery with peanut butter, hummus, guacamole and yogurt, among other things.
Buy in bulk and store extra items in a box somewhere or in a bag within the fridge. Ask your child to stay out of the boxes or bags, so you can spread out the deliciousness.
Put the snacks away on weekends. It gives the kids something to look forward to on Monday morning.
Change things up once in a while. Whenever a new items is introduced, it's like a little shot in the arm for your youngster. So hold back a little early on.
Buy what you know your kid likes, but limit the sugar, especially if your child is subject to crash-landings after sugar highs. Vitamin water is an excellent alternative for soda pop.