My oldest daughter starts first grade on Wednesday. Boy, did the summer ever go by quickly! She’s super excited though. She loved kindergarten and has missed school pretty much since the afternoon it ended back in May. I keep hearing how first grade will be different and much more challenging, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the increased structure and more intense academics will be right up my daughter’s alley and she will continue to thrive in school.
Preparing for first grade is much easier than preparing for kindergarten was. I’m not worried about how my daughter will handle the super structured environment nor am I worried about the social atmosphere of school. I’m not trying to talk her through school rules this year, because she already knows to raise her hand before speaking and not to run in the halls. We are still working on some autonomy issues (shoe tying, jacket zippers etc.) and of course, we are starting to talk about lunch and snack foods that can go to school with her.
Last year, before school started, we sat down and my daughter wrote out all the foods that she liked that would be easy to pack. The list wasn’t that long and her lunches didn’t change much over the year. But, having the list (on the refrigerator) was a great tool for both of us throughout the year. I could point to the list and say “but raw spinach is on the list” and that would diffuse any complaining about green things being packed for lunch. This year, we sat down and made a list together and to my surprise, there’s probably twice as many different foods on the list compared to last year. It’s a wonderful and tangible way to show how much success we’ve had over the last year getting my daughter to eat more variety.
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What’s on the list this year? Here are the “my kid”-approved foods that I’m allowed to pack for lunches and snacks:
- Steamed Green Beans
- Steamed Broccoli
- Raw Spinach
- Sweet Potato Chips
- Asian Pear
- Cherries (pitted)
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- Black Olives
- Brazil nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
- Raw, grass-fed Cheese
- Grass-fed or Coconut Milk Yogurt
- Grass-fed Hotdog
- European-style veal wieners
- Grass-fed Bologna
- Leftover roast chicken or pork
- Paleo Chicken fingers
- Green Eggs
- Pastured Ham
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- Homemade date squares
- Cliff Kit bars
- Steve’s PaleoKrunch Cereal
- Steve’s PaleoKrunch Bars
- Homemade muffins
- Homemade cookies
- Fruit Leather
- Clif Fruit Ropes
- Freeze-Dried Mango
- Annie’s Fruit Snacks
- Almond Butter and Honey Sandwiches on homemade bread
- Dark Chocolate
Last year, we didn’t include a treat category when we made our list. This year though, we added it since it became a big part of our discussion. A few foods were hotly debated as whether or not they counted as fats or fruits versus treats (freeze dried mango was the closest call). She’ll get something off the treat list in either her lunch or her snack probably every day, most often the lowest sugar stuff like my homemade baked goods but also Larabars and Clif Kit bars (at least until I’m done the book). My daughter is really good about eating her other foods before her treat and seems to thrive both emotionally and physically when these foods are included in her diet. We’re going to continue to use the easy lunches boxes we used last year. After a year of use, they are still going strong and they’re a great size for my daughter. I pack them in an insulated lunch box with a reusable ice pack and it works really well.
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I’ve been on the hunt for a stainless steel water bottle with either a straw or spout that doesn’t leak, that’s easy to open, that isn’t huge, and that doesn’t make weird noises when my daughter drinks from it. We’re tried three different brands over the last year and haven’t been happy with any of them (one leaked, one was too hard to open, and one make a whistling noise when she drank which irritated everyone). I’m ordering a Klean Kanteen bottle (after it coming very highly recommended from one of my newsletter subscribers and after a thorough read-through of all the reviews) and I’ll keep you posted on what we think of it.
I won’t know until later in the week if my daughter will be in a nut-free classroom or not. The school is not nut-free and only those classrooms where children have severe allergies are nut-free environments. If we have to be nut-free this year, that will probably only affect snacks and not lunches, since those are eaten in the cafeteria, which is not a nut-free area. I’m going forward assuming that Larabars, Clif Kit bars and Steve’s PaleoKrunch bars will still be okay to pack (I’ve relied more heavily on these convenience foods over the last six months of book craziness). I’m also assuming that I’ll be able to continue to make my homemade date squares with walnuts and cashews (although my kids love them with pepitas and sunflower seeds if I have to do a nut-free version). I guess if snacks do need to be nut-free, muffins will become more of a staple for us (my standard recipe is nut-free and I actually have some in the freezer saved for the first week or two of school). If I do have to pack nut-free snacks, it will be a little annoying, but I have such a wealth of nut-free Paleo recipes now, that I’m not worried about it.
Last year, we got in the habit of finishing any leftover lunch for afternoon snack. If my daughter was still hungry after that, she typically ate a piece of fruit. I think we’ll continue on with that for now, but I have a suspicion that I’ll need to start planning afternoon snacks since my daughter has been eating us out of house and home lately. I think it’s unlikely there will be any leftover lunch this year! That’s usually when we pull out the apple slices dipped in almond butter, veggies with homemade dip, or kale chips since these are all a bit too messy to send to school.
In many ways, I’m looking forward to school too. It’s been hard to carve out the time I need this summer to work on the book, which has been both stressful and lead to lots of mommy-guilt. I think getting through this last hectic month will be easier with my kids in school (my youngest will be at a Mommy’s Morning Out Program four days a week for the last half of August). In many ways, I’m also not ready. Not ready for 6am and rushing out the door in the morning. Not ready for how much I will miss my daughters during the day. Not ready for how exhausted they will be in the afternoons. Not ready to say good-bye to the summer. But I am looking forward to the relative calm after the book is done, the extra time I will get to spend with my family, and cool-weather activities that are always my family’s favorites.