We’re not sure how it happens so fast. One day, they’re helpless newborns who need us to meet their every basic need. The next, they’re off to their first day of kindergarten, all alone in a big school and ... *sobs uncontrollably*
Ahem, sorry about that.
If you have a big kid about to start kindergarten, you’ve likely already started researching what you can do to help prepare them. Maybe you’ve been setting up playdates with kids who will be attending the same school. Maybe you’ve been talking to your child about what to expect in their day-to-day. Maybe you’ve been practicing good bathroom skills, like making sure they can wipe their own butts properly so they don’t come home with daily underwear nuggets (ah, the things no one tells you about parenthood).
But, you might not have thought about this lunch tip, and it’s a good one.
In a viral Facebook post, a U.S. mom is encouraging other parents to practice eating school lunch with their kids.
“Kindergarten lunch is a big adjustment and your child’s teacher will be super appreciative if you have prepared them for the experience!” Julie New Harbaugh wrote in the post, which had been shared 70,000 times by Thursday.
She suggested parents make sure kids can open everything you send with them, set a timer for 15 minutes “and talk about how they may not finish eating and that’s OK,” practice packing everything back up, teach about trash vs. what comes back home, and remind them not to eat off the table.
WATCH: Tips for Kindergarten. Story continues below.
It’s true that lunch is a big transition. Whether your kid was previously in daycare or at home, someone was probably setting their lunch in front of them and helping when needed.
Now they’re (mostly) on their own, dealing with lunch boxes and Tupperware, and no one to tenderly wipe their messy little faces and OH GOD WE’RE CRYING AGAIN.
If setting a timer for 15 minutes seems ridiculous, keep in mind that lunch breaks in elementary schools tend to be short. CBC News reports that, in British Columbia, kids tend to get 40 minutes for lunch, but half of that time is mandatory outdoor playtime, usually leaving kids about 15 minutes to eat (Parents there have even started a petition for their kids to get more time to eat).
Studies have found that kids who have short lunch breaks tend to eat less and throw out more food.
So, getting your kid used to eating on a deadline is important, even if they do get longer than 15 minutes. And we all know little kids can be slow AF when it comes to eating (and putting on shoes, which is a battle for another day).
Now, not every parent may have the option or choose to put their kid in full-day kindergarten, in which case, you can save this lunch tip for Grade 1.
But remember: practice makes perfect, or at least, potentially less slow.
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