As a mom, you have a lot to do. It can feel overwhelming. But if you’re willing to put in a little work up front, you can start to outsource some of these tasks. One of them is packing school lunch for your kids.
Now I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes delegating a task is harder than doing it yourself. You have to relinquish control, bite your tongue when it’s not done up to your standards, and invest a bit of time and effort into training your kids how to do things properly. But the end result is worth it, I promise.
Your kids CAN pack their own lunch. Here are some tips on how to help them be independent with this task.
Make your expectations clear. My kids know that I expect a fruit, a vegetable, a protein, and a “crunchy” item. If your child has trouble remembering, you can put a list or a picture on the fridge of what you’d like them to pack.
Prep foods if necessary. Every Sunday and Wednesday I chop about a bajillion fruits and veggies and put them in the fridge. Neither of my kids have the dexterity to do so with the variety of produce we eat, and I don’t mind taking on this task. This makes sure they have access to plenty of fruit and vegetable options when packing their lunches so they don’t get stuck. Obviously you can save time and make this easier by purchasing pre-cut fruits and veggies, or packaged single-serving fruit or veggie packets.
Have a good stash of easy-to-use containers. We have a collection of lunch box containers to choose from, and my kids know where to find them. If they get frustrated trying to find matching lids and containers, or choose ones that don’t fit their lunch boxes, they’ll be easily sidelined from their task. Make it as easy as possible for them.
Keep the food organized. Okay, you don’t have to have a perfect fridge and pantry. But do make all the foods your kids will be accessing easy to reach, and house them in the same spots so your kids don’t have to go digging for them. Because if they do, they’ll probably make a mess.
Choose a lunch based on their ability. My daughter takes crackers and pepperoni to make herself a diy-lunchable. She’s perfectly capable of making a PB&J, but it gets a bit…messy. So, I don’t push the sandwiches as long as she’s happy. My son, on the other hand, takes sandwiches but only wants half of one. So he assembles and cuts it himself…because he can.
Do it the night before. Kids always take longer than you expect to finish a task, so don’t try to tackle this in the morning. Have them do it right after they come home from school or after you’ve eaten dinner so they can do it at their own pace.
I get it. It’s easy to get in the habit of packing lunches and then never hand off the task to your kids. But don’t tell yourself the lie that they’re not capable. With a little training and support, they totally can. In fact, here’s proof. These are my kids – a kindergartener and a fourth grader – packing their lunches for school.
Now I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t make them do this every day. If we have a busy evening or I haven’t prepped easy-to-pack lunch foods, I’ll do it myself. And sometimes I’ll just do it to be nice. But I know that they’re more than capable, and that if I’m ever stressed out over my never-ending to-do list, there’s always one thing I can take off of it.
So mom, I encourage you to do the same. Let your child show you that they can. So while it might be your job (especially when they’re little) to do the prep work for their lunch, it can totally be their job to pack it.
Read more of Kristina’s contributions to allmomdoes here.