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Packing a school lunch makes sense even if your children still have distance learning. Here’s why it helps and how to do it.
Sherry Hayes is not a newcomer to homeschooling. She has been with it since 1989 while raising 15 children and running her own website. Mom Delights, that is full of resources for homeschooling and handcrafted Textbooks. We will say that again …fifteen Children. The woman is a multitasking professional. But when she was crawling over lunchtime and worried, she did the math and turned to the lunch box.
Don’t let lunch become a major distraction
“Lunch ended up in the middle of the most productive part of our day,” says Hayes. “Rather than stopping the flow to prepare and clean up meals, I decided, ‘Why not have the food ready and portioned for each child?'”
Hayes reckoned she would spend over an hour each day figuring out what she and her children would have for lunch (which often distracted her from helping her kids with their coursework), then preparing lunch, setting the table cover and tidy up after eating. By having a lunch box ready for each child, she could spend more time with her little learners and get lost in algebra equations or in the life of Archimedes rather than overwhelming herself in the kitchen.
Even for mothers with no 15 children at home (OK, some of Hayes’ children, who are all 11 to 36 years old, are adults, and have jobs), preparing meals in the middle of the day remains an unnecessary nuisance.
Give your days some structure
Living and working within easy reach of easily accessible snacks and groceries can be a distraction for even the most disciplined adult, let alone a growing child. The temptation to ask for a snack every time they sit down or when course work is interrupted is very real for children who go to school at home. Packing a school lunch is a great way to divide the day into work time and meal time – and don’t forget the very important game time too!
Related Topics: 15 Tips For Managing Snacks When You Are At Home All Day
When (and how) to pack lunch
Although it took a bit of getting used to, Hayes has been packing lunch boxes for her children at school for more than three years, doing all of the food preparation during or after dinner so that only one mess needs to be cleaned up afterwards.
She enlists her older children for help by delegating tasks or changing nights with responsibility for packing lunch. Even younger children can help by filling cupcake liners with handfuls of fruit or vegetables, or by placing their lunch box in the refrigerator after packing.
Hayes likes to process leftovers and be creative with the ingredients in the lunch box. She even brings her children into the packaging process by creating age-appropriate stations for assembling the various parts of the lunch box.
“I prefer the type that is divided into three chambers with a tight-fitting lid, similar to a bento box, ”she adds. “Since you are at home and have access to kitchen facilities, you can put things in the lunch boxes that can be heated in a microwave or toaster, such as hot dogs, pizza, leftover pasta, etc.”
Including fun snacks in the lunch boxes keeps things exciting and for kids Pirate booty is a popular lunch box addition in the Hayes household, but easy-to-throw snacks like Just the cheese, Atoria’s Cauliflower Coconut Mini Lavash Flatbread, or Easy Mills Veggie Pita Crackers are also a great addition to healthy lunch boxes.
The ritual has an advantage, Hayes adds, and since many parents are still unsure whether or not schools will reopen this year, she believes there is a huge advantage in maintaining household consistency. “This gives children something to look forward to and gets them to indulge in their own diet.”
Header image courtesy of Westend61 / Getty Images
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