Being a parent is hard work. And if I were to believe what I see on Twitter, Facebook and in blogs, articles and television segments, the making of school lunches is near the top of the list.
(As an aside, is it just me, or am I right in thinking that if making a school lunch is even in the top 100 complaints about your life, then your life is pretty good?)
A survey I recently ran with Cityline viewers revealed that 62 per cent of respondents said they do not enjoy making their kids' lunches, but they do it anyway, even though the kids are old enough to do it themselves. In the corporate world, this would be known as bad project management.
True, there are some parents who like being responsible for putting together the lunches for their kids, which allows them to control what foods and how much goes in. Of course, it can't control the fact that little Jimmy may still trade away his apple for a brownie, or pitch the broccoli in a bin on the way out of the lunchroom, but it can help limit their bad food choice options.
What it doesn't do, though, is teach them to make their own healthy food choices at home, and to take on a responsibility that they can easily handle from about age eight and up. Kids even younger should be involved in some part of the lunch construction.
While there is a growing trend to hide nutritious food from kids (zucchini in muffins), or make it "fun" for them to eat (sandwiches cut like flowers), this is really just training mom and dad on some new mostly non-transferable culinary skills, and not providing a food education for your children. Teach THEM to make a regular, square sandwich instead.
So how can you get the kids to take it on?
1) Sit down and write out a list of lunch options: sandwiches, re-heatable foods, and salads, as their main entrée.
2) List acceptable snacks they can choose from, out of the cupboard, fridge, or fruit bowl. Then let them construct.
3) Start by having them "own" the responsibility of lunch. If they want you to make it, they have to ask. Nicely. And you can say no. (You're the boss, remember?)
This article was originally run in the Metro News.
Kathy Buckworth's new book "I Am So The Boss Of You" is available in bookstores everywhere. Kathy is the new host of Toronto Speaks: Parenting, debuting on Rogers Television Monday, Sept. 30