Who doesn’t love September! The air is cooler, the leaves are changing, it’s a great time to get back on track after a summer of lazy days and the kids are back in school!!! Yay!
Oh wait . . .the kids are back in school, that means school lunches. Every. single. day. Making school lunches gets old quick at my house. I had to make lunches as a kid and I never liked doing it then and now as a mom to 3 school aged kids I find I like it even less.
Remembering who likes what, who won’t eat what (which I always mess up), who drinks what, and packing the same snacks, the same sandwiches (or no one wants sandwiches – then what?!!) and always rushing to get it done before we head out the door! What is there to love about making school lunches?
I know there are Moms who treat school lunch making as an art form and actually love the challenge and the design of festive lunch boxes, and I totally admire their work, but it is not my thing. So I devised a plan early on in their school careers . . . THEY were going to make the lunches! Kindergarten they go a pass, but once they hit Grade 1 I started handing over age appropriate lunch duties, and now my kids in Gr 3,5,and 6 I am thrilled it’s September and I no longer have to make school lunches!!!
How did I do it?
1. Routine, Routine, Routine
I love routines. Teach the kids how to manage their school mornings by having the same routine each day – get dressed, brush hair, practice music, eat breakfast, brush teeth. To avoid the constant reminding that quickly turns into nagging, I use reminder charts. For young ones I made a picture chart so they knew what order to do things in, for older ones a ‘Checklist’ chart helps them remember.
2. Start Young
Kindergarten I focused on their personal goals of getting dressed and making their own breakfast, helping them learn to be independent. As they get older I added more ‘items’ making sure to not label them as chores or treat it as a punishment, but rather another step in their independence and being a bigger help to our family – positive spin!!
Some idea’s that worked for us:
Gr. 1 empty top rack of the dishwasher and put out everyone’s gummy vitamins
Gr. 2 & 3 fill water bottles, milk containers and empty the bottom rack of the dishwasher
Gr. 4 & 5 Snacks into snack containers, yogurt into yogurt containers and picking out a healthy treat.
Gr. 6 Cutting up fruit and making the sandwiches or even cooking a pizza for our own version of pizza day.
3. Simple Containers
We use the same containers for each item in their lunch and they take the same food groups each day to establish the routine but also making sure we mix up flavours and fruits to keep it interesting! It becomes a bit of an assembly line but that also helps it become a familiar pattern.
4. They Decide
Let the kids make the list of acceptable fruit, favorite sandwiches and yogurt flavours they like best and have them help with finding recipes for healthy snacks and doing some baking. You have a huge opportunity to teach the kids about nutrition and making healthy choices by having them be a part of the lunch making process, and if you play your cards right, they may make your lunch too!