MAKING LUNCHES SPECIAL: Packing Smiles and Making Memories
Today I wanted to talk about a super easy and simple way to make your children feel like they have the best mommy in the whole wide world. Yup, there's a really easy way to trick them into thinking this ;)
My little girls are both in elementary school. You know, when they still kind of like you, need you, and will still claim you. My girls bring their lunches to school every day. I tried to convince them for years to just buy but they don't want to. I'm going to admit it, it would just be so much easier for mommy if they would buy their lunches.
When I was a kid, my mom packed my lunch everyday and I'd beg her to let me buy my lunch and she wouldn't. I don't get why my munchkins are so adamant about bringing their lunch but I figured if I was going to have to pack their lunches, I might as well make it fun.
So I started by writing notes in their lunches.
Life goes by so fast. They are only little for just a teeny bit of time. I really want to make their childhood something that they can look back on and feel like they were loved. I had an amazing mom that did that for me. I want my kids to feel special like I did.
If taking a little bit of extra lunchbox time in the morning (or the night before) is going to make them smile, then I'm sure as hell going do it. It won't be long before they're taking driving lessons, claiming their friends as their new family, and looking at me like I'm the enemy. Until then, I'm going to hang on to their innocence for every second I got left.
The little bit of extra time it takes for me to pack a smile into my kiddos' lunches, well... and let me tell you, it's all worth it when I get a note back :)
Since the beginning, I've always written notes in their lunches but it was just a straight up note thrown in there with everything else. It has evolved over the years into something a lot more fun and I have to admit, I really love it. Well, you should probably know that other than Barnes & Noble, which is my favorite place on the planet, the craft store is a close second. So that might help you understand why I love jazzing up my girls' lunches so much.
It's a good thing most husbands have no idea that the mark-up on craft items is about the same as it is on diamonds. Dang, a girl can do some damage up in that piece! Especially a girl like me. I am utterly enthralled, mesmerized, and bewitched with anything that lives in a craft store. I started a sticker collection when I was seven years old and haven't ever stopped. I could fill a warehouse. I need help.
But please don't think this whole notes and stickers and fun lunch thing is going to cost you a fortune, it totally won't! Although I have a serious issue with control in craft stores,I don't buy any of my lunchbox fun goodies at the craft store. All of the fun lunch stuff I'm talking about today are things I either had at home already, bought at a Dollar Store, or bought on clearance.
When you're out at stores, check the clearance aisles (especially the party aisles). Places like Target, Hell-Mart, Ollies, Dollar stores, outlet stores, Big Lots, and even places like TJ Maxx, Marshall's, and Home Goods are great places to look for clearance lunchbox items. You can get stuff for pennies!
Okay, back to making your babies feel special and loved...and proving you're the coolest mom around.
Okay, so what I did was I found a little container that was laying around the house (anything would do, even a shoebox if you had nothing else) and I filled it up with some markers, pens, stickers, scissors, tape, and mini note pads.
It really doesn't hold that much so of course I have a bunch of other crap (my term of endearment for super awesome craft stuff) laying around in a bin that I have in the kitchen. I guess I could make life easier for myself and just get a bigger container that would hold everything but I already had put my cute little 'LunchBox' labels on it and well... one cute container and one big messy bin is okay with me. I often ignore logical solutions.
As you can see below, I kind of went out of control with the stickers but like I said, I have a problem. One that I have no intention on fixing. And since my kids reap the benefits of my craft and sticker addiction, I'm going with it. You do not have to be an insane lunatic like me.
And of course even though I have two little girls, they could not be more different. My Gia loves all things shiny, glittery, girly, and glam. But my Jossy loves all things boy. Robots, monsters, cars, sharks, skulls, and pirates are right up her alley.
But here's the thing, it doesn't have to be expensive. You can find super cute stickers and even books of stickers at the Dollar Store and I usually write their notes on index cards (that I cut in half) or whatever paper I have laying around. You can get 8-10 notes out of a piece of computer paper or construction paper. We all have this stuff lying around. And you don't even need to do the sticker thing.
The note is the most important thing.
I always tape the notes to the lunchbox. I learned the hard way with this. Trust me, it's just easier. If you don't, it gets lost, or falls out, and is easy to forget to even put it in the damn lunch so sometimes it doesn't even make it in there.
The best tape to use is the clear packaging tape. I don't know why but it comes right off without damaging the lunchbox and it doesn't leave any residue. It comes off like magic. All other tapes have caused problems. I've tried them all, just trust me on this. Packaging tape is where it's at.
I also use fun napkins and sandwich bags in their lunches. I mean, they need napkins, right? It's makes the lunch so much more fun! And paired with the note and stickers, believe me, your child will feel so special. My girls look forward to opening their lunches everyday. It warms my heart :)
I ordered the owl sandwich baggies in the below pic from Oriental Trading. They were on clearance and I got a box of 500 bags for $1.99 on clearance. I bought them when my oldest was in pre-school... that was seven years ago! And I'm still using them! You can find all kinds of cute bags, stickers, napkins, and even straws for super, crazy cheap if you just check the stores you visit. I found the Toy Story snack bags for 50 cents at Ollies... and there's even a place to put your child's name on them! Or the names of the kids in the class if you were sending in a class treat. Too cute!
You can always find napkins for dirt cheap. They're always on clearance. I found these ones at Target for 32 cents! Seriously. Target is always putting their party stuff on clearance so check their birthday aisle when you're there.
Even cute novelty stuff like these shark straws are fun to throw in lunches for something different. I got these at Walmart.
Holidays are super fun! The kids just love holiday themed lunches. I'll usually use the holiday theme almost the whole holiday month. You can get super cheap holiday stickers and napkins AFTER the holiday. As soon as each holiday is over, I scoop up all that I can! Sometimes for as much as 90% off!
Both my girls get to bring a snack into school everyday in addition to their lunch. Gia, my oldest who is 10, just wants her snack in her lunch bag. But my youngest, Jossy, who is 7, wants her snack in a separate bag.
I usually use the white paper bags (I get them at Walmart for cheap) so that I can write her name on it or put a sticker on it and it shows up really good. But I will also use cute little favor bags or colored bags if I find them on sale. I found the colored lunch bags at a Fun Party Store that was going out of business. I got a 100 of them for just 25 cents! Jossy loves them.
I found these monster bags at Target on clearance and was thrilled because Jossy loves monsters. But unfortunately they were on clearance because they were discontinued :(
But look how cute they are! I found them in the birthday aisle.
Most of the time I'll seal the back of Jossy's snack bag with a sticker.
You certainly don't have to do the whole shebang for your kids' lunches everyday. I take it to this level because I truly love doing it and my kids adore it. But if you do anything at all, maybe start writing a note. Even if you don't want to mess with anything else. Just a note.
Seriously... Just a note.
It will mean so much to them and it will truly make them feel special. I can't tell you how many little friends my daughters have had over for playdates that have told me that they wished their mommies gave them notes like Gia and Jossy get. I've even had parents at birthday parties or school events mention to me that their children would talk about Gia and Jossy's lunch notes all the time and that now they too started writing notes in their kids' lunches.
With a hurried morning and a million other things to do already, it might seem like a really big pain in the ass.
But I promise you, it's worth the time. Your kids will remember it forever. They will only be in elementary school for a little while.
Celebrate their childhood while you can... before they are taken over by the teenage bodysnatchers.
If you want to add a note to your child's lunch but just feel you absolutely do not have even the extra few minutes to put it together, there are tons of lunchbox notes you can buy. I know Amazon has them.
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