What to do about The Untouched Lunchbox

My daughter started school seven weeks ago and after a rocky start which involved trying to get her to go into the actual building and convince her that her new teacher wasn't a complete monster, she has now completely settled and, wait for it - she likes it!! Yes, it happened. She likes the place now and looks forward to going every day. And not only that, she is beginning to make friends. So it is all coming together very well on the school front - apart from one small (or not so small) obstacle. Almost every day she is coming home with an untouched lunchbox. Some days are better than others but most of the time she has barely eaten a thing. And I am getting mega frustrated.

The first couple of times I checked her school bag after coming home and found that her lunch was uneaten I was very alarmed. And then upset. I started thinking about how she must be starving because she hasn't had anything to eat for nearly five hours (which explained why she was pale and withdrawn coming in the door). I started wondering - is she feeling too shy and nervous to take her food out and eat it with all the other boys and girls? So I started questioning her on it but of course didn't get very far because she wouldn't tell me a thing. Instead of pushing her too much I decided to leave it, let her sit back and eat her sandwiches and we could try talking about it again the next morning.

I tried encouraging her to take her food out when she saw all the other children take theirs out and to eat when they eat. However the following days weren't much better. She would eat half of her banana and take a bite out of her sandwich but that was it. We talked some more about it and the only thing I could decipher was that she must be spending the majority of her break times talking instead of eating. And then I'm guessing that their teacher must tell them that break time is over and she just puts her lunchbox back into her bag. Again I tried explaining to her that it is very important that she doesn't spend her whole break time talking to her friends. But it can get very frustrating trying to talk to a four year old who you know is only half listening to you.

So that was the softly, softly approach in the first couple of weeks. Now we are seven weeks in and I have had to change my approach. Yes it was time to enforce the law. She has her own little routine where she comes home every day which involves plonking herself on the couch to watch Paw Patrol and finish the rest of her uneaten lunch. But I warned her that if she did not make more of an effort to eat her food at school then there would be no cartoons when she came home. And for the first time I could see her ears cocking up. She was listening. She came home the following day with almost her entire lunch eaten and she was so pleased with herself. She couldn't wait to show me. And I have to admit I was overjoyed too. My tactic had worked! Believe me it's not that I enjoy threatening my daughter or anything but sometimes needs must.

However there are still plenty of days when she will come home with food still in her lunchbox - I'd say on average she eats half of it every day. But it is an improvement. Hopefully we will get there eventually. I made a few adjustments like giving her smaller portion sizes and cutting her fruit into bite-sized pieces so the task of eating it all doesn't look as overwhelming to her. Plus I make sure to give her a good bowl of porridge every morning before leaving so at least she has a good head start to the day. That of course and the ever-hanging dark cloud over her head that there will be no Paw Patrol when she gets home will hopefully get the food into her tummy. Honestly, I don't mean to be mean, I just want my baby to eat!

Tracey Carr

My name is Tracey Carr and four years ago I stopped working to become a stay-at-home mum to my two little girls, something which has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least. My blog is a quest to try and re-discover myself as I journey through motherhood and to hopefully help redefine the whole concept of what we know a ‘housewife’ to be.

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