Lunchboxes - Are you back into the routine?

We are all “getting back into the routine” on this third week of the return to school. I’m not entirely sure what the routine means to others but for me it’s quite the mix – wondering if the old shoes still fit, the feeling of relief not being the only one in the September queue to get school books when school has already opened and trying to think up new strategies to convince my primary school goers that everyone else is in bed before darkness falls!

Those school lunches...

One other feature of the return to school is the rooting around for a trusty old lunchbox, or the promise of a shiny new coloured box that will be less likely to spill or easier to open. This is my fourth year of negotiating the primary school lunchbox and I never cease to be amazed at what a brilliant device it is for getting the child’s view of things – and how important it is that we take it into consideration when we want them to eat healthily.

Here’s just a few observations that give me pause for thought and that leave me looking to others out there for inspiration and guidance (so please share!).

“I don’t want any of that in my lunch because the child beside me will say YUCK”

What am I to say? The day ahead might just have enough problems to solve without asking an eight year old to challenge the reaction of her friends – especially when she wants to fit in. Or it can equally go the other way when the child happens to be sat next to someone who eats the same kinds of things with no yuck factor. I think flexibility is the best approach here – not making a fuss and really listening to the child. There will be lots of opportunities for them to develop confidence in the range of foods that they eat without having to be tested in school.

“My friend has this, that or the other is their box – is that good or bad?”

The challenge here is to try and help the child understand that the world of food choices is not black and white despite their natural wish for things to be clear and certain. There’s not always time for chatting when the clock is ticking but children are very sophisticated and able to understand that we should all aim for a mix of tastes and textures.

 “I don’t like that anymore”

Just as I was getting used to the sense of having worked out a list of a few foods that wouldn’t come home in the schoolbag. Children’s tastes and preferences change (as is the case for adults!) so there are lots of opportunities for me to stand back and allow the child to direct proceedings!

“Why can’t I have a treat in my lunchbox? Can I please have a treat? Can I have one on Friday? Can I have one just today?”

Holding the line on treat foods at home, in school and when out and about is hard work and it can sometimes be a case of picking your battles. As for the lunchbox it is just great to be able to reply that the school policy says that there should be no treats in the lunchbox – clear and simple!

I will conclude by taking my hat off to all those out there busy preparing the lunchbox each day – and thanking the teachers who make sure that it comes out of the bag in the middle of the day. Nnot forgetting the brilliance of the children who are so keen and observant and brilliant at giving feedback…..


Posted: 30/09/2019 10:20:10 by Charmaine McGowan
Filed under: Children, Lunchbox, School, START

About Me

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Charmaine McGowan
Working with great colleagues in the safefood Human Health and Nutrition team in Cork. Always trying to better understand what drives the food experiences of the people on this island and what we can do to promote healthier habits and a healthier environment. Mother to two precious little people so lots of opportunities to try and put it all into practice. An unashamed fan of Desert Island Discs and the stories that tell so eloquently what it means to be human.