CANDY ALLAN: Picture-perfect not required
Before we get any farther, I want to point out I’m not dissing the moms who make robots out of Valentine candy and a juice box. My kid loves your chocolate-juice robot, and truth be told, I think it’s pretty cool, too.
I just know the limits of my patience when it comes to gluing six types of candy to a Hi-C box 29 times over. It wouldn’t be pretty.
As we approach the start of school for another year, I keep seeing social media posts, articles and tips on great ideas for packing your child’s lunch, buying their back-to-school wardrobe or getting them in a routine to prep them for success.
One Facebook post I’ve seen several times now involves different containers with index cards on the front bearing a number “1” or “2.” The baskets are filled with different choices of fruit, crackers, nuts, string cheese and healthy desserts.
The idea is a parent sets up these baskets in the fridge and kids pack their own lunch by choosing an item or two from each bin according to the number on the front. It’s supposed to be a way for kids to have a lunch that’s nutritious but different every day so they’re not bored.
It looks like a great idea … except I don’t have that much room in the fridge and wouldn’t prep those bins after the first time (assuming I got that far). Maybe I’m just not organized enough.
Somehow, those other moms all make enough time to develop elaborate lunch-packing systems, have clean houses and glue together candy robots and trains. So, I’ve just got to stop being lazy/disorganized/whatever and get with the program, right?
That can be a dangerous line of thought.
Self-improvement is a good thing, when you do it for the right reasons. If you feel a need to fix something in your life in order to improve your quality of life, great. If you feel a need to fix something in your life because this mom or that mom is doing “everything” so much better, it might be time to stop and re-examine if there’s anything truly in need of fixing.
We tell our kids all the time to think for themselves and not just blindly follow the crowd. We tell them being themselves is more important than being “just like everybody else.” These messages aren’t just to get out of buying the latest fad in clothes or toys; or at least, they shouldn’t be.
Don’t feel pressured to do the latest greatest thing. Your kids will be fine if they have a boring lunch or their contribution to the class party was from the store instead of homemade. And don’t feel pressured to give up making candy robots if that’s your thing. Do what you want your kids to do – be comfortable in your own skin.
If you really like the lunch-packing system with the different bins and choices, and it will work for your family, have at it. I hope it’s wildly successful for you. But if your lunch-packing style is to make sure there’s bread, peanut butter and jelly in the house and hand your kid a knife, that’s fine too. Or – gasp – if they eat hot lunch at school.
As parents, we need to start where we’re at and do our best for our kids, even if it means not doing “the best.” And we need to accept whatever our level of best is – without beating ourselves up because our house/refrigerator/kid’s lunch isn’t Pinterest-worthy.
Let’s be honest, I’ve been making up this parenting thing as I go along ever since my son was born. I know there’s more experienced parents out there and folks with different ideas. Respond to my column by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you might see your thoughts in print in an upcoming issue of the Pioneer.