Sweetie SaturdayA rather cool Swedish tradition we have adopted is Sweetie Saturday, Lördagsgodis. Kids have candy all packed into one day, Saturdays: The rationale is that their teeth get exposed to all the sugar just once a week, instead of in small doses daily, making it easy to brush more vigorously and prevent cavities.
My kids have loved picking up this tradition, especially as Saturday’s our “lazy” day with no fixed agenda, besides the fun of what we make up or what the weather inspires. It can be anything from a stroll in the woods, to ice skating on the lake or just watching telly all day (while us parents do DIY projects.)The day often starts with hagelslag (Dutch chocolate sprinkles) or Nutella on their cereal or toast. It then continues with the kids choosing pieces from their prized and protected candy jars throughout the day. The only exception to unlimited sweetie jar access are the restrictions about half an hour to an hour before lunch and dinner. Although we have adopted the Sweetie Saturday full-heartedly, the part we haven’t adopted is heading to the HUGE candy isle on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning with the kids and giving them free range with their pocket money. The choices are overwhelming on some of these confectionery pick and mix isles! Slightly unsurprising, seeing these candy section, that the Swedes eat the most candy of any country in the world – a whopping 17kg per person every year! Despite the reputation of leading relatively healthy lifestyles, Swedes ingest more than 50 kg of sugar each year, a quarter of which is confectionery. That’s 3 times the amount recommended by the World Health Organisation! That’s not us though! Most of our kids’ sweets come from party bags, Halloween, Easter and gifts from visiting family and friends. I will occasional buy some for cake decoration and give them the left-overs as rewards for good deeds. The rest of their candy, my kids will buy from money they get from recycling: they take the plastic and glass back to the shops’ recycling centre, and get to keep the “pant”, a recycling deposit to spend that small change on some candy. This helps them in a couple of ways:
- gives them a sense of achievement,
- teaches them about working towards a target,
- recycling becomes second nature
- they get the excitement of choosing and the indulgence
- but also have to make choices with their limited budget.
No more parental guiltThere are a couple of surprising benefits of this tradition of Sweetie Saturday in that it can be used as a very effective parenting tool: On one hand, I have no more parental guilt about giving them sweets as a reward, as I know they will, generally, self-regulate eating them to only on Saturdays. And I don’t feel guilty for not allowing them sweets either for the rest of the week, because it’s actually not me making the “rule”. The biggest benefit is that we only have to deal with one day of sugar-high and, if I’m well-organised, we actually need the sugar to fuel the outdoor activities of the day.
As for the original intention of Sweetie Saturday in reducing cavities, well it’s hard to judge as each child’s teeth are different. And we learnt this last year at a dental check up … to our shock, the boys both had cavities.On Saturdays we brush the boys teeth with particular attention and have threatened to do it for Angelina (11, almost 12 years old) too.