Nine More Months of Lunch
One child is yelling about missing gym
clothes and another shouting that their life is over because their
hair is standing up. In between those issues, breakfast and the
normal chaos, dealing with packing lunches can be the proverbial
straw that broke the camel’s back.
Getting organized to deal with the
next nine months worth of lunches is certainly worth the small
amount of time involved.
Our kitchens, when set up to function
properly, have a certain layout and rhythm. Most likely, I’d find
the coffee and coffee filters near the coffee pot at your house. The
things for baking are all together. Your cookware, pots and pans,
are surely near the stove.
Yet, when it comes to lunch making, I
bet you have to go to one drawer for plastic bags, another for a
paper bag and then another drawer for a plastic fork or spoon. You
grab a napkin from the napkin holder, peanut butter one cabinet and
a small bag of chips from another. Multiply that times several
To be honest, you are lucky if there
is a bag of chips or container of pudding. Somehow, when you were
not looking, someone snacked on all the individually packaged lunch
food you purchased. Most likely, family members stay confused about
what is okay for snacking and what is off limits. Now you are grumpy
and in a rush to try to find something else to put in the lunch.
This type of lunch packing ends up
with lots of hustling about and wasted time. Not only that, it makes
it harder for your child to successfully participate in this
routine. No wonder if you ask them to help, they forget something.
Think how many steps are involved.
Here’s how to set up a great system
Rethink your cabinet space. Choose
a cabinet to be designated for the lunch center. If you still
have short people at your house, be sure to choose a low cabinet
so everyone can reach.
Empty that cabinet of its current
stuff. Sort through it and find new homes for those things.
Gather all of the lunch supplies:
Plastic bags of snack and sandwich size, napkins, plastic
flatware and all of the non-refrigerated food that you approve
of for lunches – even the peanut butter and a loaf of bread.
Organize the supplies and the food
products in the cabinet.
Grab a plastic large food
container, minus the lid, and open the refrigerator. Place the
lunch meat (make sure it is in its own sealed container), cheese
sticks, fruit and so on that may be used for lunches into this
plastic container. Place it on a shelf next to the drinks
purchased for school lunches.
Take time to instruct the family,
pointing out that the lunch cabinet is off limits for after
school snacking. There should be plenty of other things in the
pantry for that use. Also point out the section of the fridge
that is for packing lunches.
Packing lunches the evening before
is a great way to relieve morning stress. During the
after-dinner clean-up, have each child go to the lunch center
and choose their side items. The next morning, all that needs to
be added is the sandwich and drink. Sandwiches can be made ahead
and refrigerated, if you wish.
Keep the cabinet stocked. Now that
everything for lunches is in one spot, it is easy for you to pop
open the door and eyeball what is needed from the store.
Not too long ago, I was enjoying
coffee with a table of professional organizers who all happen to be
mothers. We drifted away from the talk of organizing and into the
talk of parenting. Pretty soon we began to compare notes and
discovered every one of us had something in common. We all had
taught our children to be self-sufficient from packing their own
lunch to doing their own laundry.
Part of disorganization comes from
trying to do everything for everybody. As much as our heart desires
us to be that mom who does it all, it simply is not possible or
practical. Taking the time to teach your child to be organized is
the greatest gift you can give them for they will carry it through
their whole life. This includes packing their book bag and laying
out their clothing the night before and packing their own lunch! All
you have to do is organize and keep that lunch cabinet stocked. That
is enough of a job!