It’s been about four weeks of packing school lunch after school lunch.
I wouldn’t exactly put ‘expert school lunch packer’ on my resume, but I would like to think my skills fall somewhere along the lines of intermediate to advanced.
I have to say I was kind of excited for this new responsibility as I have previously shared. I bought one of those fancy schmancy bento box style lunch boxes and packed it full to the brim. And when the first day came and went and I opened my daughter’s lunchbox at the end of the day to reveal an almost entirely empty container, I was in heaven. I gave myself a pat on the back and thought I was done with the school lunch anxiety.
And when the next day the lunchbox came back almost entirely full, my husband and I looked at each other with fear in our eyes. What happened? Why didn’t she eat the delicious looking lunch I had lovingly packed for her? But guess what? The world didn’t end, my daughter ate dinner, went to sleep, and it was onto another day.
I get it. It’s hard not to freak out even just the littlest bit when a lunch comes back uneaten. Parents worry. We worry about everything. And worrying that your child is not eating enough or stressing out about the amount of food they eat can lead to many a sleepless night. So I’m here today to give you permission not to worry. We have PLENTY of other things we can worry about when it comes to our children. As you’ve heard us say many times before, lets try to take the focus away from the actual food.
And here’s why I am more relaxed when it comes to my daughter’s school lunch box:
I AM NOT A MEMBER OF THE “CLEAN YOUR PLATE” CLUB
Children know when they are full. They know then they are hungry. And just like us, that can vary from meal to meal and day to day. So when we are eating together as a family, I will never tell my daughters to finish everything on their plate, or take one more bite of that slice of pizza. We’ve said it many times before, but I think it’s worth repeating. It’s a parent’s job to provide the food, time, and place to eat it, and it’s up to the child to decide how much they want to eat. So the same goes for the lunchbox. I always make sure to pack at least one thing I know without a shadow of a doubt she likes to eat, and from there, it’s up to her to decide what she chooses to eat from her lunch and how much.
THERE IS ALWAYS ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO EAT
If you have scheduled meal and snack times in your house, your child knows that if they don’t eat a lot at breakfast, they will have another opportunity to eat a little while later. So if my daughter doesn’t eat her lunch, she knows there will be an after school snack and dinner soon after arriving home. So anxiety you have over a nearly full lunchbox come three p.m. should be slowly disappearing right about….now.
TAKE THE FOCUS AWAY FROM THE FOOD
The more you focus on the uneaten lunch or draw attention to what food your child did or didn’t eat, the more of an issue it will become. When it comes to any meal time, try to talk about something other than the food. This applies to that school lunchbox as well. I involve my daughter in the planning process, we talk about what she wants for lunch, but if she chooses not to eat her sandwich that day, I don’t focus on it. I don’t keep asking and prodding her as to why she didn’t eat it. Because what will that accomplish? Not much except create more anxiety around food for you AND your child. And it will become the focus of her lunch at school and any meal time for that matter. Meal and snack times should be enjoyable, and this would only serve to create a more stressful environment.
One of our biggest goals with How To Eat is to get you and your family to relax about your food and food choices and help you enjoy family meals together. We hope his helps you get one step closer to doing just that!
So tell me, how are you doing with the school lunch scene? We’d love to hear!