Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Steely KinderMum Resolve

It’s a bit of a culture shock when you first become a LunchMummy, I think. By LunchMummy, I mean a mother whose child(ren) attend a kindergarten or school that require the sending of a packed lunch for every day of attendance.  It’s a new concept to me, despite occasionally being responsible for L’s lunches, and I’m learning as I go how important it is.

Since she was very small, O has attended a private daycare centre who supplied a lunch and two snacks a day, plus breakfast if your child was in the centre before 8am. This meant that, on most days, I could roll out of bed, take her straight to care and know that she was pretty much fed until dinnertime. Sometimes, I would do breakfast for her at home, but it depended on what time she’d arrive in the morning. I never, ever understood how lucky I was!

When O progressed to Kindergarten 3 weeks ago, I suffered a bit of a shock the first morning. I’m not used to preparing lunchboxes at all, and I really wasn’t inclined to. Add to that my exhaustion and you’ll deduce that poor O’s lunches for the first few weeks were pretty boring. Her kinder were very adamant at our orientation in November that foods had to be healthy, Healthy, HEALTHY. No sweet biscuits, no cakes, no chips, no crap. The lunch talk began to feel like a lecture, and I may have shed a tear or two as in my mind I realised that the expectations of these ladies were almost SETTING ME UP to fail as a Kinder Mum. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love O. I love preparing food, and making sure she gets the best possible start in life. However, no matter how hard I try, I truly, truly suck at organisation and preparation. Shopping lists and I go together like eggs and dynamite, and I’ve been known to visit the supermarket 8 times in a 7-day week to get ingredients together for various meals. When I do decide to be a domestic goddess and do a big grocery shop, exhaustion or disinclination hit, and I end up wasting a weeks’ worth of fruit, vegges and money. For me, it’s easier to fly by the seat of my pants.

‘But Tara,’ You’re thinking, ‘I remember you mentioning some pretty crippling OCD’. Why yes, gorgeous and elephant-minded reader, yes you do. However, people seem to have this habit of confusing Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with organisational skills. They don’t go hand-in-hand as neatly as one might think. The need to have all my DVD’s alphabetised and my comedy, TV series and movie sections separated does not necessarily lend itself to a kitchen full of fresh groceries, an excellent meal plan (though I try) and home-baked snacks on hand for my kiddies at all times. 

O always eats well. Her lunches have always consisted of the vital components (fruit or veg, dairy, a sandwich and a special snack) but the dairy has often been a cheese stick, which I refuse to give up sending as she thinks they’re the business, the sandwich is mostly vegemite on white bread and the snack, more often than not, is one of those bars with a baked outside and fruity-jammy-puree-y filling. She LOVES them. The kinder, however, have made it very clear to me that they’re not so keen. In fact, they’re not so keen on a LOT of things, and most of their arrows seem to be pointing at everything I place in my little girl’s lunchbox.

Yesterday, I decided I’d had enough. One no-so-subtle hint too far pushed me over the edge, and I came home after kinder and cried for an hour and a half, convinced I was a shitty mother who was stunting my child’s intelligence and social growth with my lack of lovingly home-baked snackage. 

This clearly isn’t true, but I’m a less than rational thinker, so I steeled my resolve and put together a shopping list. Meals I could viably stick to making, their degree of difficulty almost nil but their nutritional value and likelihood to get eaten in my house quite high. I added to this a list of snacks that, again, were minimal effort for high reward. When B dragged himself home, spent, from another day dealing with douchebag co-worker, I dragged him straight out again to wander the aisles of the local Woolies for an hour, determined to get what I needed to become the epitome of Kinder Mumishness that I so want to be, just to prove to the thirty-somethings, the educators, everyone who is determined to shove me into the ‘shithouse young mother’ box totally wrong. I shan’t be staying there, thanks very much. One good habit at a time, I’m gonna kick my way out.

I know I’m doing nothing wrong. O eats and adores everything in her lunchbox, and she is the brightest, bubbliest, smartest kid I know. She’s had her finger on the pulse since the day she was born, despite breastfeeding failings, occasional treat lapses and the day I got to dinnertime and realised all she’d eaten was peanut butter from the jar and grated carrot. But it truly is time I got my ass into gear and worked harder at the motherhood thing. It’s time I stopped being a victim of Chronic Fatigue and pushed through to ensure she has everything she could possibly desire. And if, in the process, some people get the hell off my back, that’s not so bad either, is it?

So now I want to hear from you guys: What do you send your kiddies to school with? Has anyone, subtly or not so, made you feel like a shithouse parent, despite all the evidence to the contrary? And did you tell them to screw themselves, or work harder to prove them wrong?


  1. I am so bloody thankful that Mia goes to a daycare that provides all her food. I really don't know what I am going to do when I actually have to start sending her out with her own food!

    And I hear on the OCD/not orgnaised stuff, my brother has OCD and I have never seen a bedroom more messy or a bloke less capable of getting himself organised, but his shoe collection and organisation of said shoes and his DVD's is awesome!

    1. Kylie, I'll post some freezable kinder food recipes to pre-prepare you lol!

      My shoes, dvds and cosmetics are the main culprits of my OCD... it's frustrating, but keeps me going.
      Thanks for popping by

  2. Holy hell. Our daycare centre makes the kids food there too, I am panicking at very the thought of having to hand craft non stop healthy snacks. Gahhhhhh....

  3. I have just become a KinderMum too - although the first two weeks were half days and we only had to send a piece of fruit. Today was first lunchbox day, and I went with food that I know my kid will eat - cheese and vegemite sandwich and some sultanas and craisins, plus a piece of fruit to share. I have no idea if I've sent enough food (we were warned not to send too much!) and what the general expectation of healthiness is. I'm kinda nervous after seeing so many "healthy homemade lunchbox" magazine covers.

  4. I have older kids, and used a daycare centre that didn't supply food, so I've been doing the lunch box thing for many years (the bonus is that some of them are now old enough to make lunches for every one else and I don't have to!) I know my kids don't have the perfect lunch box, but it does come home empty at the end of most days, and to me that's a win.

  5. I have a friend who loves to make subtle digs at what I feed my kids, but they're happy, eat veges, fruit, nuts, meat - it's just they don't eat many foods mixed together, eg curries etc. So good on you for not taking it anymore!!!

  6. My daughter's preschool has such rules. One of them is no chocolate. When I packed her a home made, chocolate muffin that was made from rye flour, LSA, oats, egg, chia seeds, coconut oil, honey, stevia, and SHOCK, HORROR...cocoa powder, they put it in a little paper bag and wrote on it in big black texta letters "Not preschool food."

    Not one to run away with my tail between my legs, I asked them why. "It's chocolate." They told me. I told them yes, it has cocoa powder in it, but what makes chocolate unhealthy is not the cocoa, but all the fat and sugar they add to it. I told them all the good things the chocolate muffin (mini muffin, I might add) was packed with and they just stared at me like I was a crazy person.

    "If you want her to have a treat after lunch, you can occasionally pack her a vanilla cupcake. We just don't allow chocolate."

    "So you allow a run of the mill, full of sugar vanilla cupcake, but not a home made, full of healthy ingredients chocolate one, simply because it has cocoa powder in it?"

    If looks could kill, I would have been dead right there. Did I mention that was my daughter's very first day of preschool?

  7. Your blog is so true... My Miss Six attended occasional care where I could send her with a sandwich (with no crust), kabana, cheese, cheese dip and crackers, fruit, cucumber and yoghurt. Now Mr Two attends the same centre and the same foods apply. Occasional Care and Kinder had no nut policy... so no Nutella or Peanut Butter. Kinder comes for Miss Six and they were no longer allowed to have dairy because of other children's allergies. So that meant increasing the cucumber and paying $4 a punnet for strawberries. Now that Miss Six is at school, she can have chips, twisties, chocolate... pretty much whatever she wants! So I have gone through four years of 'no nut policies' to literally 'we don't care what they eat'.

    There are no Pinterest lunches in my kid's lunchboxes... no creative wraps or sandwich faces. Whatever can get me by in the morning to get the kids out the door on time.

    One funny thing about Kinder which I found was this... no nut or dairy policy and no sharing of food - yet mother's seemed insistent on baking cupcakes and cakes at home to share with the kids...

    Love Melissa...