Opting-out of school lunches
I have four school aged kids. This translates into planning, preparing and packing four snacks, four lunches AND serving breakfast – by 8am five days a week. That’s a lot of work for someone who’s not a morning person!
Last year, I picked my younger two kids up for lunch every Friday and it was a great way to spend some quality time with them, but I particularly enjoyed the slower, less hectic pace to my Friday mornings.
This year, I’ve decided to bring the younger two home for lunch everyday.
This is a big deal because two years ago, I was holding my breath for the day my youngest started school. After 15 years of having very little alone time, I was looking forward to spending some quality time with myself! I never thought I would volunteer to give up some of that “me time” to have lunch with my little ones on a daily basis :)
When I decided to make this change I couldn’t help but worry that skipping lunch recess would make it harder for the kids to make friends at school but this hasn’t been an issue at all.
What I love about “home lunch”
The kids LOVE coming home for lunch and here’s a (rather long) list of what I like about our new routine:
- Mornings are SO much easier with three less lunches to pack (even though my grade 8 daughter likes to stay in school for lunch, I often drop her lunch off when I pick-up the other two).
- My kids are no longer exposed to other kids who bring gummy bears and Kinder Eggs for lunch on a daily basis. This used to make them feel like their lunch was somehow inferior :(
- There are no more soggy sandwiches or brown apples.
- There’s no need to pack a zillion icepacks in the lunch boxes to keep things like cheese and yogurt from spoiling.
- I hand wash our snack and lunch boxes. With four kids that was quite a sink full! Now I simply add their lunch plates in the dishwasher with the rest of the dishes.
- At school, the kids get 20 minutes to eat their lunch and though technically this is enough time, you really can’t afford to go to the washroom or chat with friends. You have to pretty much gobble down your lunch. At home, there’s plenty of time to finish lunch (and have more if you’re still hungry) PLUS there’s time for them to socialize with me and with each other.
- At least once a week one of the kids would bring their lunch home half eaten because they either ran out of time or they dropped it on the floor deeming it inedible (is that just my kids or do you have that issue too?)
- The kids used to come home from school famished even when they finished all of their snack and their lunch. They’re not eating more at home so the fact they they’re no longer demanding food the moment they walk through the door is likely a result of the additional time they spend enjoying their lunch as opposed to gobbling it down. I don’t have proof of this, but I am convinced that taking time to properly eat their lunch keeps them fuller and satisfied longer.
- They’re not as tired when they come home, especially my 5 year old who used to come home tired and cranky. A lunch break with mummy has made a HUGE difference to his day and he no longer feels like school is SO long.
I adjusted our schedule last week so that the kids now stay in school for lunch once a week. This gives me a day to run errands where I don’t have to make it back in time for lunch.
Slowing down and making time to pay attention
I have a friend who has always picked her kids up for lunch (or dropped their lunch off later in the day) and I never understood why she would impinge on her day like that. Now I get it.
I’m not a morning person and I used to dread weekday mornings. Now our mornings are… slower.
If my son is tired or cranky when he wakes up (which is often) I have time to spend a few minutes cuddling and talking instead of urging him to get up and be quick.
That there is what I like most about our new routine. I have time to pay attention, because I’m not crazy busy trying to get everything ready at once.
photo credit: Theophilos