Teaching kids to pack their lunch

Teaching kids to pack their lunch + FREE PRINTABLE {Heather's Handmade Life}

Our kids spent five weeks of the summer in all-day camps that required me to pack lunches. At least during the school year, our kids order hot lunch once or twice a week to give me a break!

By the end of August, I was so sick of packing lunches that I didn’t think I could look at another pudding cup.

The solution? Outsource the task! 

I decided our kids, at seven and nine years old, were surely old enough to pack their own lunches. Just before school started, I printed out a list of guidelines and stuck it to the side of the fridge. 

I broke it down into “snacks” and “entrees,” and wrote how many items of a particular category the kids were allowed to pack. Our daughter spotted the list right away and was thrilled. Apparently her older friends already pack their own lunches (“without a list, even!”) and she’s always up for an opportunity to feel more grown-up.

I don’t know which of us was more joyful on the evening before the very first day of school. (Well, me, for sure — but she was very happy to be packing her own lunch.)

The list makes it easy for them. If they’re ordering lunch at school, they only need to pack items from the “snacks” category. Treats are listed under the heading “Choose 1,” baked goods say “Choose 1-2” and fruits and veggies are a mandatory “Choose 2-3.”

The “entrees” menu includes a build-your-own lunch option where they choose two from the protein category (rolled-up ham, turkey slices, cheese, hard-boiled egg) and one from the grain category (crackers, bagel, tortilla).

If they want something hot in their thermos instead, the list suggests they “politely ask Mom or Dad” and leave their empty thermos on the stove as a reminder for us to heat something up in the morning. (We often do pasta, dinner leftovers or pancakes/waffles in their thermoses.)

So far, the kids are still liking the independence of packing their own lunches. They remind me when I forget — it’s a perfect bedtime-stalling chore — and seem to enjoy considering their choices in each category.

(I watched our daughter seriously deliberate between gummies and a pudding cup and eventually decide on the pudding because she wanted to use her pretty new spork.)

What’s interesting is that the lunches our kids pack now are much healthier than the ones my husband used to pack for them. The kids follow my list, dutifully packing 2-3 items from the fruits and veggies section, whereas he’d throw in gummies and a pudding cup — and heck, maybe a cookie — just because it’s easy. 

Let’s hope they don’t realize that, or I might have a lunch-making revolt on my hands. 😉


Confessions of a Catechist

If you had told me three weeks ago that I’d be a Catechist — a Catholic Sunday school teacher — I would have NEVER believed you.

Two years ago, right here on this page, I wrote about how I “can’t pretend to believe everything I’m supposed to believe.” I wondered out loud if I was a bad Catholic for “walking through those doors with a heaviness that shouldn’t be there,” or if I was a good Catholic for making sure my children attend Catechism classes and make their sacraments.

But as of two weeks ago, I’m a Level 4 Catechist.

They asked me, and I heard myself agreeing. It didn’t feel real. I would be the one teaching a room full of nine-year-olds about God. I would be responsible for their religious education for an entire school year.

(No one believed me when I texted them the news, complete with angel emojis.)

My husband literally accused me of being high on DayQuil

I only had a few days to prepare for my first class. They gave me a heavy binder loaded with lesson plans and talking points and suggested readings, but assured me that I could pick and choose what I wanted to cover in my classes.

The binder was pretty overwhelming. It suggested I start by ceremoniously handing each child their workbook by saying a prayer over them. Um, no. The first lesson was supposed to be about Saint Teresa of Ávila, who was born in 1515 and went into a convent at 16. Um, skip.

After flipping through the first three lessons, I decided to boil them down into four main takeaways: God made the world, God wants us to take care of the world, God made us and God wants us to be nice to each other. Bingo-bango!

My first Catechism lesson. Writing on the white board was fun!

And then it was time to teach my very first Catechism class …

Continue reading in my weekly parenting column, The Mom Scene …

The friggin’ flu

If it feels like at least one person in this house has been sick since school started, that’s because I think it’s true.

It started when I was plagued by a cold SLASH seasonal allergies. I use the slash because I couldn’t figure out which it was, or if it was both. All I know is that (A) fall allergies are the WORST allergies of the year for me, and (B) it felt very cold-like, too.

I think I decided it was a cold when our daughter, C, caught it. She was really sick for about week, except it was like she had a cold and the flu because she was a snotty mess but also a feverish one. As in, like, fever that wouldn’t go away for like five days. We used the thermometer on her hourly.

Sick, but happy to have lost another tooth!

Our son, D, caught whatever she had *just* as she was getting better, as is The Way Our Family Does Sicknesses. He also had the fever that wouldn’t leave. He was pale and sickly-looking, but didn’t have the running nose/sneezing/cold-like symptoms that C’d had.

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