It’s mid-January and I’m counting down the days. In just a few weeks our little darlings slide their squishy feet into shiny new shoes, drag discarded back packs from the shelves and neatly write their names on perfect new lunchboxes.
These are to be the receptacles of the unsullied sandwiches, carefully chosen snacks and lovingly cut fruit for the year ahead. Gleaming new lunchboxes that haven’t been dropped. Or hidden under a car seat crevice with a fermenting apple.
Lids are not yet lost. Lunchboxes are fresh with promise. They sit empty, awash with dreams of what is to come. At the beginning of every school year I always start the kids with a new lunchbox. I call it the “hope box”. Basically I hope I can muster the inspiration to create healthy and delicious lunches for another year. Generally all hope is dashed by March.
I have five children aged eight to 22. I worked out recently that by the time Ivy finishes school I will have been making lunches for 30 years. A little bit of cerebral fluid trickled out my ear when I realised that. That's three decades of the alarm going off half an hour earlier than everyone else, so that I can stand bleary-eyed in the kitchen trying to invent something out of nothing.
The mother guilt hits in. I really should have gone shopping yesterday. Should have bought fresh fruit. I should have baked. I hate to admit it but 6am is not when I feel at my culinary peak. I cook best with a glass of wine in my hand, but that’s not how I want to be making school lunches! "Oh, that's strange, Mummy packed me blue vein cheese, kalamata olives and a champers!"
It’s become harder. Lunch making wasn’t something you did an adult education course in. Children of the past were used to lacklustre lunches. They didn’t need mum to go that extra mile, but now, it’s game on. Lunches have changed.
In the early days it was enough to just throw in a Vegemite sandwich and a banana. Pop in a yoghurt and you were a candidate for Mother of the Year. But not now. There are some serious expectations about what I’m supposed to be loading in the lunchbox. It has to be healthy. Organic. Homemade. And forget cling wrap! That’s so last term. We’re now wrapping our homemade organic raw food treats in fabric dipped in beeswax. Good for the environment, non-toxic and my food wrap has more followers than me on Instagram!
There are mums in my daughter’s class who hand-roll sushi. These women must never sleep. Fresh baked kale chips. Golden turmeric milk. I can’t compete with that. I’m still mastering the humble sandwich. How do you stop the tomato making the bread soggy again? Use a cheese mattress. I remember now.
Oh, apparently I shouldn’t be giving my kid dairy. Says who? I don’t know why but I feel judged. School lunch isn't a meal, it's a competition. Mums feeling like they are on an episode of My Lunchbox Rules. It’s exhausting coming up with new ideas every day - I sometimes put notes in the lunchbox that say "sorry, Mummy has a job and forgot to cook" or "Does the fact I didn’t get up at 4am this morning mean I’m wrecking your childhood?"
This year I promise myself to unfollow lunchbox overachievers on Insta, and while I’m cutting myself a sandwich, to cut myself a break. I’m a bloody good mum. And it’s not just about what lunch is in that box. It’s about love. And I got plenty of that.
So ladies and gentlemen, the countdown is on. Get ready to load your lunchbox!
What's your ultimate time-saving lunchbox hack? Share below!
This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Baker's Delight.
Parents are under a lot of pressure to please everyone, but whether we like to think so or not, kids are the ones that we ultimately need to convince.
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So whether you’ve got a fussy, sensitive or messy eater, we’ve got something that will be loved by everyone.
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