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The Pressure of Perfect Packed Lunches: Navigating Mom Guilt in the Instagram Era

Updated: Jan 8

After she spent hours scrolling through the world of kids' lunches on Instagram and TikTok, a mom asked me how she can keep up with the pressure to pack perfect lunches. On the internet, it seems that every mom is packing these perfect lunches with fruits and vegetables cut into cute shapes, sandwiches with the crusts carefully trimmed off, and snacks gently placed into silicone-lined bento box sections. And if every other mom is doing that, then you should too...right!?


The pressure to pack perfect lunches is on! But what about a good enough lunch? In this article I will tell you why you can let go of the pressure to pack a perfect lunch and what you should do instead.


bento box

Let Go Of the Pressure to Pack a Perfect Lunch


What actually goes on in the world of parents packing lunches for their kids? Is it all Instagram-worthy artwork like is seems online? Do you need to buy into the pressure to pack perfect lunches? The answer is no, for a few reasons.


The first reason is because of your skewed perception of reality. This is where sample bias comes into play. When you are scrolling through Instagram and TikTok, you are only seeing those lunches that people decide to post. The ones who post are often those parents whose use social media as their job or those who have their own pressures to project an image of perfection. The majority of the world who is not posting pictures of their kids' lunches packs lunches that are not Instagram-worthy.


The second reason you can let go of the pressure is because a perception of perfection is not healthy for anyone. You don't need it, your child does not need it, and the rest of the mom and dad world does not need it. With this, you need to think deeply about why you want to portray an image of perfection, and you need to think about what is truely important to you. Is it important for your child's teacher or other parents to think you make perfect lunches? Or is it important for you to feed your child?


What Do You Kids Really Need?


What your kids need at lunchtime is food to eat. They do not need a perfectly packed lunch, and they do not need you to feel pressure. Think of lunch as three categories of food that you aim to include: a protein, a carb, and a fruit or vegetable. Instead of artistic perfection, this can be a peanut butter sandwich and a banana, cheese on crackers and baby carrots, or yogurt with granola and an apple. No bento box or fancy lunch box needed. If you want to take lunch to another level, leave them a little love note in their lunch. That's all. If your child has food at lunch, you are going great. With the extra love from a note, you are doing awesome.

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