This is hysterical, well-written & a useful tool — I love it that a neighbor & great friend’s husband is jumping on board “The Business of Motherhood boat” — Leave it to an accomplished businessman and dad, Mike Lippman, to put his strategic planning skills to work on the home front. Keep the great ideas coming, Mike! – Amy

The School Lunch Conundrum

Ladies, a man is in your midst. Sorry for the intrusion, but I would like to offer a (potentially) helpful suggestion, recognizing, of course, that you are the ultimate experts in the Business of Motherhood. I must admit that I generally hesitate to make meaningful suggestions about how our household is managed. I learned years ago that my considerable absences, as an almost always traveling Dad, required me to step back and not insert my pitiful demands into household management, child development, and the like. All I did was mess up the system established by the real expert in home management.

Now, to the point (but feel free to share the prior point with significant others in your lives), I have had the opportunity, over the last 2 months, to spend much, much more time at home. As an ardent advocate of the Business of Motherhood, it didn’t take long for my mate (I read that description in a book recently and it sounded so much better than wife, partner, spouse and other labels), leader/manager/coach of our household, to dole out appropriate responsibilities. Among others, I am now responsible for making school lunches for our daughter, 15 (going on either 21 or 4, depending on the day) and our son, a remarkable 11 year old who still has to be reminded to brush his teeth in the morning and before going to bed. (Mom’s help me out here. How can we make teeth brushing a self-sufficient best practice? This is absurd! There has to be a better answer).

Back to my new responsibility, lunches. I thought I was up to the challenge. (Typical man, right?) After helping to clear the table (yes, ladies, I am getting trained), I carefully selected the starches (bagels, pita and the like), the innards (ranging from cream cheese, peanut butter, corn beef, pastrami), a snack (sometimes healthy pineapple and strawberries; sometimes Sun Chips or pretzels), always something for the sweet tooth, and water or a juice box to drink. Was I doing a job or what?!! You can probably guess what comes next. My heart was broken. “I don’t like that kind of bagel.” “I wanted Doritos, not Sun Chips” “Bobby gets Gatorade, why do I always get a juice box?”

Yes, ladies, I was saddened. But, not being one to cry in my soup (too often), I made an effort to craft a solution.

I first attempted to separate my views from those of the kids.

My views: We spend a lot of money on nutrition and it pains me, psychologically and economically, to think that our efforts end up in the trash. I enjoy making something that my kids will enjoy and am disheartened when my best efforts result in a back-hand slap (or a full body slam). I want to do better.

The kids view. Yuck! Why are they constantly feeding me stuff I don’t like? Is my only choice buy or not buy? I’d really like Sally’s mom to make my lunch.

Now, my mate (and my mother also – wonder how she found out about this) are both laughing at me. I inserted a scheduling template into the lives of our kids. I created a template (attached) that achieves a number of objectives.

Most importantly, it provides them a sense of empowerment at a very low cost. Every Thursday, they complete the form. It takes less than 5 minutes. Their choices. Buy or bring? What to eat, broken down into type of bread (if any; our daughter has opted for salads on several occasions), the innards, the snacks, the sweets and the drink? You will note that these are requests and not rights of passage. No regular trips to The Palm to fill in the brown bags (at least not too often). But, we are doing our best to satisfy all reasonable requests.

A few weeks into our experiment and it is going extremely well. We know what they want, we know what to buy, and we now have a much higher likelihood of meeting their expectations. And, to boot, the kids are really into it. Give it a try!!

A Dad in Your Midst