“Got a problem?  Take it to the complaints department”.

Early 90s.  The problem was the sandwich had peanut butter on it instead of vegemite.  The complaints department was ME.

You see, my mum had devised this brilliant plan that she would make herself redundant in certain areas, and one of those areas was making lunch.  So at the age of 10, 11 & 12 (and beyond come to think of it) my job was to make lunch for myself, my younger brother and my younger sister.

This drove me crazy because my customers were tough!  And fussy.  And when I got it wrong they would march up to me at recess time and say ‘I said NO cheese!’ (we went to a small country school where the whole school ate in one area).

I would seethe with outrage! I worked so hard for them and they didn’t appreciate it!  How disrespectful!  See how they like making their OWN lunch from now on!

Without realizing it, Mum was giving me the best preparation for parenthood I could possibly experience.  Fast forward to 2016.  My children, now in Year 1 & 2, are learning in advance its hard work being organized.  This year they are packing their own lunch for school.  Now before you call the authorities and declare neglectful parenting there is research to show that raising autonomous kids (that is independent and self-motivated) leads to confident and self-directed adults!

Supporting this idea, I’ll never forget visiting good friends of ours before we had children.  They had a dear little toddler who was fiercely independent.  Her wise parents realized life was much easier letting her do things for herself – they had a stool to reach up to the tap when she wanted a drink (and there was no sippy cup – a glass was perfectly sufficient).  They allowed her to climb into the bath on her own, they gave her china plates instead of plastic baby plates – and there was none of this ‘here comes the airplane’.  I was gob smacked.  However, these wise parents continued to parent this way for their following two children, and many years down the track I have never come across 3 more self-sufficient, confident and happy children.

‘How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk’ has a whole chapter about encouraging autonomy, and I admit this is the chapter I struggle with the most.  I want my kids to do things for themselves however I often struggle with the waiting time of doing up buttons, having a go at shoe laces, helping cook the dinner and cleaning up their rooms.  It’s so much quicker and easier to do it myself!  But what is that teaching my kids?  How is that HELPING my kids?

So, back to the lunches… I set the guidelines (I do the shopping so control their options) but they chose within those guidelines, and it’s working a treat!  They love taking ownership of their lunch and they eat their lunch every day.  To me, that is success!  Why not give it a go?