Homemade pizza; raspberries; banana chips and crunchy green beans; hard-boiled egg; gf bunny crackers
I really hate packing my son’s lunches. I know you guys enjoyed those posts, and some of you still want to see photos of lunches, but I always felt funny sharing them. Here’s why:
- I advocate for school lunch reform — not people packing. Putting up those lunch photos felt like I was “selling out”; the whole reason I created this blog in 2010 was to raise awareness about school lunch. The blog has evolved beyond straight school lunch posts now, but I still didn’t think it fit.
- I felt like I was bragging. Even though my son has food allergies going on, it did feel a bit showy to put photos of my son’s lunches out there. Where some sought and found inspiration for lunch packing, I saw exactly what one reviewer pointed out on her review of my book on Amazon. Yep, she called me “elitist.” You know, you open yourself and share something personal (my son’s lunches are personal — food is personal). You know what? I didn’t sign on to deal with that.
- I despised the experience of lunch packing. I don’t think you understand the depth of my hatred of lunch packing. It took over my morning every single day. I spent more than 30 minutes running around like crazy trying to get everything “just so.” I was losing my mind. Yeah, I could have packed, or at least prepped, the night before — and sometimes I did — but normally at night after my son went down the last thing I wanted to do was think about lunch packing. So I procrastinated until the very last minute. I often paid by not having time to pack my own lunch. Sometimes the price was my own sanity.
So there’s that.
Gf pita bread; pear slices; salmon; blueberry goat yogurt; package of gf crackers
And then last spring my son started struggling at school. My heart broke when I got a bad report virtually every single day. I knew he needed a new setting and our move made it a natural transition to something else…but what?
When half-day camp was such a big hit this summer, I decided to look for half-day preschool and a half-day nanny. When you are three and having trouble “listening,” I think it’s a sign that eight hours at child care is just too long. I had to find something that better suited his needs. I found a perfect three hour preschool program (they don’t offer food at lunch), but locating a nanny who was willing to do just half days was harder.
I started really worrying about finding someone in August, but luckily we found someone who has turned out to be just what Charlie needs. Our child care costs doubled, but Charlie’s behavior has improved dramatically, both at school and at home. He’s still having occasional “trouble listening” at school, but it’s less frequent. Most noticeably, his afternoons at home have been great (my schedule is flexible so I’m in and out and get to see him). Charlie’s overall behavior at home has been pretty much as good as it gets for someone who is turning four. He’s not perfect (hello, he’s little), but he’s a happier kid at home. It’s worth every dime.
Gf turkey bagel sandwiches; apple slices; avocado and baby carrots; homemade gf brownie; snack bar
The biggest side benefit with the change in Charlie’s schedule is that I DON’T PACK LUNCH FOR HIM ANYMORE. He comes home from preschool and the nanny makes him a lunch (or me if I’m around). Mornings are far less stressful and the extra time we have together means that I can do things with him that I wasn’t able to do before (sometimes we get to play or read a book before school — virtually unheard of in the past).
With Charlie’s fall birthday, he won’t be starting kindergarten for another two years and when he does, it will be half-day in our new district. While that means three years of some kind of nanny or home-based support allocated space in our budget, it does mean that I WON’T HAVE TO PACK FOR ANOTHER THREE YEARS! Of course this is more about supporting Charlie than my selfish need to stop lunch packing, but for me it has been so nice. Maybe I can advocate for awesome school lunch and this can go on INDEFINITELY!
Considering how things are going this fall, I’m feeling confident and optimistic about Charlie this year. He started going to full-time, out-of-our-home child care at nine weeks of age and then continued with day care. With four years of day care under his belt, I consider him a veteran. There have been a lot of pluses (he’s independent, out-going, and self-reliant), but it feels right to scale back at the moment, especially with a new baby on the way. Fingers crossed.