I should start this post with a disclaimer. As with all things kids-related, I’m pretty sure perfection is a myth that doesn’t exist. So the “perfect family picnic”, for me, is not your typical Instagram-friendly, Pinterest-perfect affair complete with ten different types of sandwiches and those posh mini quiches I always see recipes for in the free supermarket magazines.
At this time of year we have family picnics at least once a week, usually on days out, but sometimes in the garden. And in my vast picnicking experience with young children I’ve come to find there are a few secret ingredients to making it a successful meal – and it’s not about how many different types of sarnies you pack.
1. Be relaxed
Picnics are fun, especially when you’re two and a half. The very novelty of eating outside and not being tethered to a high chair is bound to be pretty exciting for a toddler. It’s an ongoing family joke for us that whenever we have a picnic I’m the only one who actually sits down on the rug and eats. The rest of my family (including the husband) will often be found roaming around the edges of the blanket, standing up, sitting down, fidgeting, running about. This sometimes annoys me (WHY CAN YOU NOT JUST SIT ON THE BLANKET WITH ME?! etc) but generally I’ve come to accept that, for us, this is what a family picnic looks like. And as long as everyone is eating and enjoying the food – sitting down or standing up – then that’s all that matters.
2. Don’t rush
In the same vein as the tip above, I tend to find my kids approach a picnic in stages. At first they’ll enthusiastically rummage through the hamper of food, devouring sandwiches and snacks with gusto. Then their interest wanes until they’re more intent on exploring the picnic area than actually eating the food.
HOWEVER, pack the picnic away too early at your peril! The chances are, as soon as I start to clear up, my girls will find the second phase of their appetite. With this in mind, we always allow for at least half an hour to an hour for food – sometimes longer. Of course this doesn’t matter if we’re just at the beach and not actually moving from our picnic base, but if it’s a day out exploring then we need to remember to either leave enough time to each or to make sure we have snacks and leftover picnic food ready to hand for when that phase two appetite kicks in again.
3. Variety is good, but don’t go crazy
Tip: no one’s really interested in the sandwiches. The last time I packed more than one different type of sandwich I just came home with a tonne of leftovers. My children will tend to eat a couple of small sandwiches then immediately move onto the “more interesting” stuff. They’ll rummage for cheese, fruit and snacks before considering another type of sandwich. I now know the ideal picnic, for us, is one type of sandwich, plus a selection of picky snacky type foods. Houmous with chopped up cucumber and carrots is always a winner, along with my girls’ favourite Organix treats (they particularly love the cheese and herb puffs and the carrot cake bars at the moment).
Here are some more great tips from the team in the know at Organix…
If you want to see one of our typically fun and chaotic picnics then check out my latest YouTube video. Proof that I’m often the only one who manages to sit on the picnic rug for more than five minutes!
To find out more great tips for eating with kids check out the Organix website. I’m working with Organix as an ambassador this year as a No Junk Mum – check out my other posts below:
For more information about how I work with brands check out my Work With Me page.