You all know how much I love making things easier for myself. Making things easier means that I get more time to enjoy our kids and it means that I get to empower them to do things for themselves.
One of the best things we ever did was teach the girls how to make their own school lunches. Yep, you read that right. Our Kindergartner, 2nd grader, and 3rd grader pack their own lunches. There’s maybe once a week that I pack them on my own because we’re short on time but for the most part, they pack them every day.
This does 3 things:
1. It gives them ownership of their lunch
They decide what goes in it and how much. I stand near by and ask if they’ve thought about more or less items or quantities but the decision is ultimately theirs. I do request that their lunch include a fruit or a vegetable and some form of protein.
2. They get to pack what they want to eat
We don’t have a power struggle over what they eat for lunch or how much they eat. Because they pack their own lunch, they usually eat it all. There are times that they don’t like today. Rebecca packed carrots but didn’t eat them because carrots were the snack at school and she didn’t want to eat them twice. That makes sense to me.
3. It teaches them responsibility
Giving them a job that they need to do every morning teaches them responsibility. I don’t think I need to state how important that is.
How can you teach your kids to make their own school lunch?
What this looks like:
Me – “What do you think you’d like to pack for lunch tomorrow?” I make sure I don’t say for “me” to pack in your lunch.
We keep our printable list of lunch ideas on the fridge in case the kids need suggestions.
Then we talk about what type of lunch container they need. We love the Sistema brand of containers and have a variety of sizes and shapes.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a little different then you might want to take a look at some of the amazing lunch containers available at ecolunchboxes.com. There’s so much choice, your little one is sure to find something that they like!
I have the kids get out the container they’ll need and then get out anything they need to make their lunch. In the beginning I helped them by cutting or assembling. Then I transitioned to just standing next to them and watching. They felt they had my attention and support but knew that I trusted them to do it. After a few days or weeks (you know your own kid), I was cleaning up the kitchen while they made their lunch.
I like to throw in phrases like these every now and then:
“I love that you are so responsible now.”
“You’re so helpful in the kitchen.”
“I like how you are careful when you use the knife in the mayonnaise.”
None of these statements are untrue and they all speak directly about the actions your child is taking.
What setting limits looks like:
As I mentioned above, I require that they pack at least 1 fruit or vegetable a day and 1 protein. I typically buy strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and carrots every week and those seem to be their favorite choices for fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to protein we try to include chicken, cheese, beans, or yogurt. I want to say that 9 out of 10 times the girls reach for yogurt. Stonyfield Squeezers are so easy to stick in their lunch box and we occasionally freeze them. This way as they start to defrost, they’re a little thicker for lunch time. (Plus, they have jokes on them and that’s always a hit at the lunch table!) The girls also like to take Stonyfield yogurt with toppings, such as granola, chocolate chips, and fruit. As long as they pack them all in separate containers, they can make their own parfaits.
You can set any kind of limits you want for your own family. I know some people are more concerned about what their kids eat than others. We don’t allow any sugary treats in lunch boxes but anything else is free game. You impose whatever limits that best suit your own family.
What if your kids don’t want to pack their own lunch?
Then if you don’t mind, you can do it. If you do mind, you can start out by doing it together. Don’t make it a power struggle because then there’s going to be a winner and a loser in this argument and you don’t want to be either. We make it a team effort and I’m always willing to help them if they need it. Because of that, and the connection it creates, they’re always willing to give me a hand with anything I need.
Kids want us to think they are responsible. They want to be in charge of big things. I promise you they’ll rise to the occasion.
Maybe you can finally have a hot cup of coffee while they pack their lunches.
Disclaimer: I work in partnership with Stonyfield as a YoGetter and I am compensated for my work. I did receive a sample for this review. The recipe, opinions and thoughts contained in this post are 100% mine.
Click to see our complete list of healthy school lunch ideas
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