Yet, there on the poster board were lists of at least thirty foods our kids had never eaten before. I don't know whether they had a well-balanced dinner that night, but they didn't go to bed hungry and they couldn't complain that they didn't like anything I offered. (I'd at least been willing to alternate fruits and veggies.)
After putting the kids to bed, I came back downstairs to clean up the kitchen and restore some order. As my husband helped me, he stared in wonder at the profusion of items, hoping that they would all fit in the refrigerator. I hadn't considered that. Fortunately, nothing was wasted for lack of space. I took down the posters and slid them between the refrigerator and the neighboring cabinet to get them out of the way.
That was my biggest mistake. In that moment of triumph, thinking that all was well with the world and the experiment had been successful, I removed the visual reminder that had been the focus of the kids' attention during this performance. I was not successful in gaining acceptance of changed behavior without the Big Visible charts. I learned my lesson and quickly tacked them to the wall, where they now hang in their garish glory, drawing the eyes of all those who walk in the room.
While this might not be the most beautiful interior decorating technique, more importantly, it draws the eyes of my children. Now, when they arrive home, wash their hands, and get ready for dinner, their past decisions are readily available for reference. Mommy and Daddy have our own charts where we dutifully record the results of our eating experiments. It's not a full history of mealtimes at our house, but it's enough recent history to help us predict what will likely happen when the plates reach the table tonight—and probably for packing lunches tomorrow. Nothing ever goes according to plan, but that's true for any healthy team. We've adapted, and dinnertime has become less of a chore. We've even branched out into using sauces and combining foods. Good habits develop over time and the Big Visible charts keep us on track, giving us a tangible reminder of conversations we should be having.
The other night my son stood pensively in the center of the kitchen gazing up at the charts and noticed that his brother had a longer yummy list than he did. I was encouraged to find him engaging with even simple metrics like rough counts (or even trends), but then, he does love math. (Gosh, where does he get that from?) And then he said the thing that made it all worthwhile: "It's handy in case I like something." The Big Visible chart provided that moment to pause, consider the situation, evaluate past decisions, and deliberately make new ones.
Groceries: more than three hundred dollars.
Time spent preparing numerous tiny portions of food: too many hours to count.
My home team developing healthy habits: priceless.
Could your team use a Big Visible reminder to keep attention on their healthy habits?