Can Someone Tell Me How to Find Balance?
I used to be a no-sugar Mom. Have you ever fed your kids sugar and then watched (with horror) as your sweet angels morphed into sugar-crazed Tasmanian devils? I have.
“So, what?” you may say. “Kids run around in hyper-drive for an hour and then they crash. We’ve all been there.”
Yes, but I’m not talking about a couple of hours of hair-raising tantrums. When my children were ages four and under, it took DAYS for the sugar-crazed behavior to end. As a result, I started looking for ways to reduce our daily refined sugar intake.
The No-Sugar Phase
- I substituted honey in place of processed sugar in all my baked goods.
- Halloween? We visited only a few houses, picked out our favorite treats upon returning home, and chucked the rest.
- I read every food label. (Did you know that store-bought spaghetti sauce can contain added sugar?)
- I limited the number of items they could choose off the dessert table at family gatherings.
- At one point, I was even making my own ketchup.
You get the picture.
For many years, this worked well for our family. We ate healthy and enjoyed a semi-emotionally stable home. Over the last several years, however, I’ve become slack. It’s exhausting going against the grain of a sugar-laden society. That, and my kids are older now. They can hold their sugar. Better.
The Constant Quest: How to Find Balance
Do we flee the adverse health effects of sugar like the plague, or do we enjoy a bonding family-time moment by licking ice cream on a hot summer afternoon? Decisions like this one can be tough.
Although I’ve loosened up, sugar still irks me – especially the way it creeps into our house, bit by bit, during the months of October through April. These “Six Months of Sick” encompass Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Easter. By the end of spring, our house inevitably contains stockpiles of treats, and I feel like my kids are asking for sugar every day.
This spring was no different.
So, on a sunny April afternoon, I made an executive decision on behalf of our entire family: it was time, once again, to climb aboard the healthy train. I waited for the kids to come home from school, then sat them down and laid out our new family rule:
Do not ask for treats during the week;
sugary treats will ONLY be allowed
once per weekend.
Satisfied, I fed my disgruntled children a healthy snack and retreated to the kitchen to prepare a healthy meal.
The Down-Fall Back to Sugar
Two hours later, shortly after our family had gathered around the supper table, there was a knock on our front French door. We all turned to look through the glass to see who was there. On our concrete step, stood a young girl – maybe nine years old – holding a large box of chocolate.
Tyson (my oldest son) hurriedly hopped off his chair, opened the door, and greeted her.
Right away, the girl presented her fundraising sales pitch. She politely offered to us the opportunity to purchase a loosely packed box of chocolate-covered almonds for the bargain price of three dollars.
As she spoke, my mind was bombarded with visions of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans; cookie sheets full of Easter gathering platz (a traditional Mennonite pastry dish); and a pile-up of birthday goody-bags hiding in the kitchen cupboard.
“No thanks. Not today,” I said firmly from where I sat at the table. She nodded, turned, and proceeded to lug her wares down the steps.
Immediately, I regretted my decision.
The Internal Battle: Sugar Vs. Community
Hadn’t I been asking God lately to teach me how to embrace living in community? (You can read more about my journey toward truly seeing those around me and fostering community, here.) Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to support a juvenile entrepreneur in my neighborhood?
Nuts, Community-Minded Mom thought. I should have paid the three bucks.
Oh, no, No-Sugar Mom bossed. Think of all the evil sugar our family has been eating lately! Besides, I can’t fail on the first day of my brilliant health plan!
Community-Minded Mom brainstormed. We could start eating healthy tomorrow. It’s just one day, and that way, I could support that sweet child’s hard work.
No-Sugar Mom smirked. You’re obviously new here. I’ve been around a lot longer than you, and I will win.
But did she have to?
I looked at Tyson, who was now standing at the dining room window, watching the sales-girl cross the street and head down the neighbor’s drive.
“If I can find six bucks,” I said, “would you run over and catch her?”
Tyson’s eyes lit up. “But what do I say? You already said no.”
“Just tell her, ‘My mom is a chocoholic and she changed her mind.’”
Tyson eagerly took the cash, sprinted across the road and returned with two boxes of dessert for the family. Community saved!
What about you? Do you also struggle in how to find balance in these areas:
household productivity vs. quality time spent with your kids
generosity vs. wise money management
exercise vs. rest
personal space vs. embracing community
I’d love to hear about how you’re finding balance (or not) in your own life. Leave a comment below. 🙂
Sara Jane Kehler