Every Sunday night for the past three weeks I've done the same thing: pack five snack bags for the oldest son, prep half of five snack bags for the girl, and fill a lunchbox with random goodies for the preschooler who firmly believes that he, too, is going to school and needs a lunch. Here and there I've assembled lunch "side items" as well. This level of organization and preparedness is not natural to me. I'm just paranoid. I'm paranoid that I will go into labor with child number four, and I'll have no time to make sure that the children are taken care of in my absence. My preparedness has left me a million weeks pregnant, but it's also taught me something that I should have already known: Advance preparation actually makes morning life so much easier. Let me say that again, because frankly, I'm shocked that this is the case since I've lived so long on coffee, adrenaline, and a lead foot motoring toward the city center each morning:
Advance preparation actually makes morning life so much easier.
Just let the above statement soak in for a minute or two. I'll wait for you to digest this, fellow adrenaline junkies. If you're one of those perfectly organized moms who has "known this all along" (sarcastic air quote emphasis mine) then just go watch this video of some kittens eating lunch with a monkey while the rest of us mull this over.
I mean to tell you that I am pretty darn impressed with how quickly I can roll out of bed, get kids into uniforms, shove breakfast into their mouths, and load them into the car each morning when I have these snacks and lunches staged and waiting. Today is a great example: I awoke startled to discover it was already 7:15. Bleary eyed, I wondered if I could get us out of the house in a mere 20 minutes. It might not have been pretty, and the two big kids might have been eating double chocolate gluten free muffins in the car at 7:30, but thanks to those snacks and lunches mostly prepped we made it with time to spare.
This evening I'm spending time in between contractions putting together a few more snacks and lunches. I'm taking a little more care because now I'm starting to feel the impending guilt of being away from the children while in the hospital. My kids have different tastes and dietary requirements, so it's pretty important to me that I make sure they are set up with snacks and lunches that they can and will eat in my absence. I feel like children have so much demanding their focus in school - not just the school work, but the dynamics of discipline as well as social life. Making sure they have food that doesn't throw them curve balls, but rather comforts and represents a taste of home is in many ways a comfort to me as I send them off for the day without me. It sounds a little bit sappy, but I do want them to have good food experiences while I labor, deliver, and hide in the hospital begging for extra ice and pain medication.
To wit, my middle child really enjoys the making of lunch. I don't do it very often because I'm an impatient hag who is guilty of valuing speed over what I really do know could be valuable time with my eight year old daughter. The girl, Peep, has recently discovered that she likes tuna salad, but we've struggled with the right way to transport it to school. On a sandwich? By lunch the cold pack has sogged out the bread. Our best strategy has been to pack the bread in her sandwich case, put the tuna salad in a small container on the side, and add a plastic knife for spreading. This approach to packing lunch has really worked well. Tonight I let her make the tuna salad herself. I didn't prod, fuss, fix, or really help her except to remind her what ingredients a girl from the southern United States might use.
1 can of your favorite brand of tuna
1-2 TBS Duke's mayonnaise (having a brand you love is important!)
1 stalk of crisp, fresh celery (diced)
1 TBS sweet pickle relish
dash of celery seed
salt/pepper to taste
I'm not going to insult y'all by telling you how to mix up tuna salad. This does make 2 generous sized sandwich portions which is my way of saying that I just successfully conned my daughter into making my lunch in advance. See how everyone wins here??
To recap: Some of you got some amazing advice about how doing things in advance actually increases personal efficiency. Some of you had the opportunity to watch an inter-species luncheon. Mostly, all of us got the chance to reflect on exactly how a perpetually exhausted and frazzled mother of three manages lunch preparation while being approximately 7,000 weeks pregnant.