Back to school backlash and the ban on the bento box…

Ok, so I am very last minute with organising things. Well, actually I like to think that I am organised but I just don’t do it until the very last possible minute. In my mind I strive under pressure, I love the adrenalin hit of ‘just’ achieving something by the last possible moment and therefore I am a super effective time manger. I really should have been a brain surgeon!

Anyway, so I left buying the school uniforms, hats, shoes, lunch boxes etc. until the absolute last day you can buy them. The day in between the weekend and our national public holiday.

It appeared so did half of the suburb! It was such a pleasurable experience going to Westfield shopping centre with my three hungry kids and my man child to look for the school necessities! While I was in a daze in the container isle trying to determine the most perfect lunch box for my children, I started the self-hate, beating myself up over the fact that I should have organised myself much sooner, as I said I would last year, and bought one of those AMAZING bento boxes online. You know the ones, the ones that will solve all your school lunch problems and make you feel like a super mum because everything is nude and cut up in perfectly bite sized rainbow pieces. All their dietary needs and requirements for the day in one tiny box. Who cares if it all comes back to you at the end of the day... You, as a mum, have provided the most perfect school lunch in the history of time. It doesn’t matter that the lunch box costs more than their entire school food budget for the year, its about how good this segmented and compartmentalised box makes you feel as a mum. It completes you! Right?

Seriously, I do love a bento lunch box, but it highlighted the fact that I spend so much time and energy thinking and preparing my children’s lunches, with little appreciation, to have it returned to me in the exact same way that it left the house that morning; but with bruises and browning and a weird fermenting smell. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we have to have the perfect food, in the perfect box, in the perfect back pack? Is it a reflection of us and how good of a mother we are? Has the bento box really become a symbol of a successful mother? And while we’re on it, why do we have to buy new supplies every year, to never to get any leftovers back or to ever see them again? Where does it all go? I mean, eight glue sticks for one child is too much! Unless there is some underground glue empire going on, there is only so much art and craft one child can do in a year. Am I right?

The rush around and intense pressure mums put on themselves to create the perfect back to school “bento box”, is ridiculous. Do our children really care? Do they even realise that they have six glue sticks and not eight? Are they bothered if they have the same back pack from last year that is in perfect condition? So what if their shoes hurt because they are two sizes too small (just kidding, I do buy them new shoes). Keep it simple I say. One sandwich, one piece of fruit and two choices from the school snack bucket (I learnt that from a teacher friend of mine), chuck it a zip up padded bag with a freezer brick if you’re lucky, and bon appetit! Take a leaf out of the 1980s school lunch repertoire!!!

Let's be kind to ourselves mums, I know we are close to the finish line and school is about to start again. I know you feel like you want to throw anything at it to get it done, make it go away and shut everyone up! But let's take a breath, get into the modern spirit of 2021 (which is just bringing back what was done 50 years ago) and reuse, recycle and relinquish the bento box!