Avoiding Lunchtime Letdown

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My mommy tipping point — or the chore that is most likely to make me want to roll over and play dead — is packing lunches. For some reason, in our house the lunch-packing job is a lightning rod for dissatisfaction and complaints.

About once a week, I'm greeted at school pick-up by at least one of my children wearing the "Mom, you blew it" expression. My kids aren't usually grudge-holders, but even if they've been running around happily at recess, some kind of Pavlovian reflex kicks in the moment they see me, and they instantly recall the agony of one of my lunch blunders.

Though I've packed hundreds of "satisfactory" lunches, I have committed many felony lunch-packing crimes, including putting Henry's lunch in Julia's lunchbox and vice versa; packing a banana that somehow went from "tender and ripe" in the morning to "squished, brown and disgusting" by lunch time; forgetting utensils; packing "smelly" hardboiled Easter eggs, and a persistent failure to pack enough desserts.

So I find that I'm always asking for forgiveness from lunchtime letdown by packing extra little "flourishes" (a.k.a. desserts). But nothing is worse than trying really hard and falling flat on your face, like the time I sealed up two cupcakes in baggies for Julia and Henry and placed them lovingly in their lunch boxes.

At pick-up that day, I eagerly asked them how they liked their cupcakes.

"They were totally squished, Mommy," Julia informed me.

"Could you lick them off the baggie?" I asked hopefully, refusing to let it go.

"No!" they both responded in unison.

Luckily, I found a way to let them have their cake and eat it too, with a Cup-A-Cake (cupacake.com). It's an awesome little device made of colorful plastic designed to securely hold a cupcake in a lunchbox —no flipping over and definitely no "squishing."

In addition to cupcakes, these containers can also be used to hold a small slice of cake, while only taking up about as much room as a small container of yogurt.

I still can't completely avoid the grumpy lunch faces, but at least I get more happy ones now to counter the blows. And after I took a recent business trip, I learned that the kiddie equivalent to "Nightmare on Elm Street" is called, "When Daddy Packs Lunch." Needless to say, I'm feeling a little more confident as our resident lunch lady.

Do you have a trick for avoiding lunchtime letdown? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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Avoiding Lunchtime Letdown

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