Parents are feeling pressure to pack Instagram worthy lunches, survey says

Are school lunches stressing you out? Photo: Shutterstock
Are school lunches stressing you out? Photo: Shutterstock

New research shows parents are adding extra stress to their mornings with pressure to create Instagram worthy school lunchboxes. 

Parenting hub Mum Central’s online survey showed social media is partly to blame. 

Mum Central founder and mother-of-two Belinda Jennings said over the years she had seen an increasing link between social media and mother guilt.

“First there were body image pressures and anxiety about bouncing back after having babies. Now we are seeing the negative impacts of social media across areas of parenting, even what we feed our kids,”  Ms Jennings said. 

“It’s time to drop the guilt and keep it real. For me, on a school morning, I am doing cartwheels if I have empty cereal bowls in the sink and have managed to get the boys out the door fully dressed.”

BEHIND THE SCENES: Parents feeling the stress can shift some of the blame to social media.

BEHIND THE SCENES: Parents feeling the stress can shift some of the blame to social media.

Paediatric dietitian and mum of two Kate DiPrima said school lunch boxes do not need to be fancy to be healthy.

“It is important to give mums confidence that quick and easy meals can give children all the nourishment they need,” Ms DiPrima. 

Kate DiPrima’s tips to ease the pressure on school mornings are:

  •  For a healthy breakfast and lunch aim for three of the five food groups. Something low fuss like a baked bean toastie and glass of milk (protein, grains, dairy) or bowl of cereal, milk and a piece of fruit (grains, dairy, fruit) - both tick all the boxes.
  •  I know it can be it can be a real struggle to get kids to eat first thing in the morning. To reduce the battles have a few options they can eat in the car on the way to school. Try a blend up of their cereal for a smoothie (grains, dairy, fruit) or peanut butter on toast and an apple (grains, protein, fruit). Keep a liquid breakfast drink in the fridge for days when there’s little time.
  • When it comes to lunchboxes, aim for four food groups. That can be as easy as a cheese sandwich, some carrot sticks, and a banana (protein, grains, veggies, fruit). Add some shredded chicken to the sandwich and presto you have all five food groups! If you want to do something creative as a treat, make it easier on yourself by preparing their lunchbox the night before. Don’t forget, another quick trick is to pack dinner leftovers.
  • Most importantly, don’t forget about yourself. More than a third of parents taking the survey admitted their mornings were a little frantic and fuelled by coffee. Taking five minutes to have something to eat will help you cope with the morning stress. A great go-to is overnight oats. Just pop some oats and water (or freshly squeezed juice) in the fridge to soak overnight. You can warm them up for a comforting brekkie or add a dollop of yoghurt and some berries, nuts and seeds for a delicious, healthy breakfast in absolutely no time. It’s also really important to set that positive example for the kids.