I started out the year full of good intentions. This year was going to be the year that we were all to help out with lunchboxes. The kids would come shopping, choose their food, then make it themselves four days a week, with a lunch order to be had every Friday.
It's only week two and things are not panning out.
See that lunchbox up there in the picture? That's some fantasy lunchbox that would come home full every day. None of my kids would eat raw broccoli and whole tomato with the stem still in place.
So after a week of going ahead with my family's 'Lunchbox Revolution,' it's all in tatters. My enthusiasm has waned, all those well-thought-out morsels come home sweaty, warm and inedible.
So what went wrong?
Not allowing an adjustment period
Out of my three kids, one has started a new school and the other has started Kindergarten (Prep in some states). Both huge changes.
They are both in a spin, in totally new and unfamiliar worlds. They are exhausted and way too tired to go grocery shopping at 5pm on a weekday, let alone make smart food choices.
Pretty soon, it will all be normal, but perhaps I placed unrealistic demands on them and on me in terms of what our focus would be.
They need reassurance, lots of cuddles and kisses and debriefing. They need to be allowed to have meltdowns and vulnerable moments and then time to recover from those.
They do not need to be stressing on decisions about food and I do not need to spending that time baking and barking at them about lunchboxes.
Vastly different preferences
It's not like any of mine prefer the same foods for lunch. Oh no. One will not ever touch a sandwich, the other doesn't like savoury muffins that I don't want to bake anyway.
The eldest will go without rather than make anything - he's happy to take a few bucks to school and pick something up at the canteen, as a lot of teens do. But it's not enough food for a long school day when he starts at 8 and has after school commitments until 5 some days.
So it's not really making one thing for three lunches, it's providing food for three vastly different preferences and needs. And that's relentless.
Not remembering how fickle they are
One minute chopped up cucumber sticks and boiled eggs are all the rage, the next minute, those easy go-to foods are chopped liver to them. I have ten boiled eggs in the fridge and a whole container of cucumber sticks THAT NO-ONE WILL EAT. I can't freeze them either.
So here's me at this point:
So what's to do about this schmozzle?
I hear the cries of, "Let them starve!" and "Wait until they fall in a heap, then they'll make their lunches!"
I can't do that to my two youngest kids, I just can't. I know it works for some, but mine will just actually starve. And one of them isn't even five yet, just a tiny boy.
And then there are those blessed with children who will uncomplainingly eat a vegemite sandwich every day for thirteen years.
I was blessed with three children who merely blinked in response to their vaccinations, but I was not blessed with children who will eat the same thing every day.
I'm going to let go.
I'm not a perfectionist, never was.
We are simply going to muddle through. No huge overarching strategy, no one-size-fits-all approach, just muddling.
Cool huh? It's a lot less stressful, that's for sure.