By Erin Gardner, Contributing Blogger
I’m in that moment again this morning. You know the one I’m talking about – that tiny little window between your first coffee and the breakfast clean-up – and before piling the kids in the car for school and daycare. It’s time to pack ‘The Lunch Box’.
In my household, ‘lunch box’ has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not an inanimate object or simply a fabric sack that gets lovingly filled every morning with items from every major food group. It used to be, but not anymore. Oh no… the lunch box has become a living thing, and my mortal enemy. It’s something I curse and loathe and wish I never had to look at again.
It’s bad enough that my 3-year-old daughter eats like a bird, and doesn’t venture far from her sparse menu of bread and pasta (read: carbs), strawberries, yogurt, cooked carrots, peanut butter, bananas, crackers and cheese, but recently I have also had to contend with my son – usually a ravenous youngster – who is now, surprisingly, refusing to eat his lunch at school.
The last few months it’s all I can do to not lose it at the sight of a barely-eaten lunch when my six year old comes home from daycare. Most lunches I pack for him come home with a few bites out of some of the items, and if I’m lucky, the “main course” such as soup or a sandwich is partially consumed. But apart from that, the remainder of his meal is untouched.
Is it any wonder he’s starving when he walks in the door, complaining about needing a snack?!
Ryan, for the most part, will eat his breakfast and dinner portions like a champ and practically lick the plate. And on weekends, lunch at home follows the same pattern. Lunches at school are the culprit with my little man; I am at a loss as to how to encourage better eating habits at school. My one silver lining is that school is almost over and our lovely and patient daycare provider, Donna, will have to tackle that Mount Everest over the upcoming summer months.
It’s not like I’ve thrown my hands in the air and given up completely. No, sir! I’ve tried multiple approaches and tactics to encourage his school-day food intake, such as:
* Asking him for the exact food items he would like in his lunch
* Providing a reward chart that promises special little treats when he gets home if he only leaves one item uneaten
* Asking him to make his own lunch so that he can appreciate the amount of time it takes to make one
* Sending smaller amounts of each particular food
* Cutting down the number of items in his lunch
Seeing as none of these things have worked or changed his lunch eating behaviours, I am now at a loss at how to best deal with this lunch box situation.
Ryan has thwarted all of my strategies and has now made life that much more entertaining at daycare pick up time. When I arrive at Donna’s door he immediately announces what he didn’t eat in his lunch today (usually two or three things are remaining). But, can he still have that special piece of gum when he gets home?
Every day when I ask him why he didn’t eat his lunch it’s a different story. He didn’t have time. He tried really hard but it was too difficult. The bell rang. A little boy talked to him the entire time. He forgot. He drank his water and ate some cucumber, that’s good, right?
What’s a Mom to do?
I’m hoping that over the summer, Ryan will develop some better eating habits at daycare (Donna is already on board, thank goodness!) and hopefully whatever has kept him from eating his lunch box feast is just a phase and something that won’t be repeated again.
Maybe a new lunch box – with special little compartments and cool little stacking bins – will win him over. Or, maybe a new set of classmates that don’t chat him up at every nutrition break will break the trend.
Because come September, little lunch box, if we end up in this little predicament again, I intend to win.