• School lunches are one domestic chore your partner and children can take care of. (iStockphoto)Source: iStockphoto
Little by little I’ve given up domestic control and that for me has been the best way to maintain equality in how our household is run.
By
Saman Shad

16 May 2022 - 12:41 PM  UPDATED 26 May 2022 - 9:55 AM

When my daughter started school, in typical mum-of-first-child fashion I got deeply involved in making sure I created awesome school lunches for her. I was swayed by the Instagram posts of influencer mummies making fancy dips, fruit cut into the shapes of stars and perfectly proportioned triangular sandwiches all neatly tucked into stylish bento boxes for their children’s lunch. I even went and got a bento box but it never ended up being used because when we trialed it at home food went flying everywhere. Oh and then there were the precious little notes I wrote for her every day during her kindy year. I even made black bean brownies – something my kids still don’t forgive me for.

When I look back at that rather well-meaning but overstretched mum I smile and shake my head. 'It took a while but at least you eventually learned that you didn’t have to make life so hard for yourself,' I think of my former self. For now, I am that mother that never makes her children’s school lunches. This is despite having two children in primary school. My youngest who is now in year 1 has never received a personalised note to open and read during recess. Poor third child.

I’m a mother of three children, I work multiple jobs, I can’t deal with bento boxes or black bean brownies anymore.

No, I’ve palmed off the making school lunch role over to my husband. I’m a mother of three children, I work multiple jobs, I can’t deal with bento boxes or black bean brownies anymore.

Perhaps in the grander scheme of things it may not seem like a big deal but I’m here to tell my fellow mums, if you can stand it, give up on the dream of the perfect school lunch and let your partner or literally anyone else you share a home with deal with it. My daughter who once got toasted wraps made fresh in the morning for her lunch is now tasked with making her own school lunches. Her go-to is dumping whatever leftovers she can find in the fridge into a thermos and taking that to school.

And yes, I’ve had to stop myself from cringing when on occasion I’ve discovered my husband making jam sandwiches for the kids’ lunch. This is so nutritionally deficient, I wanted to say. But then I saw the raw veg and fruit he was tossing into a box and figured that would compensate for whatever vitamins the kids were missing out on from their sandwich. At such times, a part of me did think about taking over the making of the lunches, but then I chose not to. Little by little I’ve given up domestic control and that for me has been the best way to maintain equality in how our household is run. I’ve come to realise that it won’t be perfect or to the standards that I once set myself but ultimately, it’s fine.

If my kids could work out complicated gaming machines, then they could work out how to load a dishwasher.

I’ve also realised my children are capable of a lot more than I gave them credit for. If they could work out complicated gaming machines, then they could work out how to load a dishwasher and run a washing machine. I’m not going to lie and say there isn’t a heavy dose of nagging involved, and that often I’ve thought it would be easier to do a chore myself rather than ask them to do it for the tenth time. But then what would be the precedent I was setting by doing that? How quickly would I then get trapped into doing the chores without even bothering to ask them to do it? Eventually though they do do it. Sometimes it only takes me asking them five times.

My husband, meanwhile, has been upping his cooking prowess. He now makes a select number of dishes on a weekly basis that he’s perfected over time and when it comes to school lunches, he’s found the kids are happy to eat whatever we had for dinner the night before.

It’s not a secret that women do the lion’s share of domestic tasks but sometimes we are our worst enemies.

It’s not a secret that women do the lion’s share of domestic tasks but sometimes we are our worst enemies. We set such impossible standards for ourselves that we find it hard to let go and let those closest to us pitch in. And yes, it’ll mean having to allow jam sandwiches as lunch from time to time. It may mean the house isn’t as perfectly vacuumed as you’d like. But you know what, that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be perfect and as soon as we can let go of this idea of perfection that hangs around us like a noose, the quicker we can regain some breathing space.  

The kids probably won’t even remember all the effort you went to. I recently asked my daughter if she remembered the notes I left in her kindy lunchbox and she responded with a frankly brutal no. I couldn’t believe it. All that effort. Should’ve just given her jam sandwiches all along.

Saman Shad is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Twitter @muminprogress.

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