The inevitable back-to-school post

by DaniGirl on August 25, 2008 · 17 comments

in Mothering without a licence

Oh my goodness. In just one short week, my baby Tristan will be starting Grade One, and my other baby Simon will be starting junior kindergarten. How did THAT happen?

I’ll save the hand-wringing and angst for another post (or seven) because I have a practical question for y’all. We live more or less right across the street from the school. For the first time, Tristan will be in school all (gasp!) day, and Simon will be attending in the morning.

I’ve always assumed that since I’m home on leave, I’ll just pick up both boys at lunchtime, take them home with me for lunch, and bring Tristan back for the afternoon. And I’ll have to go back and get him again in the afternoon. This means 9:00 drop-off, 11:30 and 11:45 pick-up, 1:00 drop-off and 3:30 pick-up. That’s a lot of time spent shuttling in and out of the school yard with Lucas in tow.

In talking to other parents, most have said that even if they live near the school, they don’t have their kids come home at lunch time. While this would make my day very much easier, it seems to me that having lunch at home might be a bit of a relief for Tristan in dealing with his first all-day school experience. (And, not incidentally, means that I don’t have to worry about packing his lunch each day. Also a post for another day.) Not only that, but whenever I lived within walking distance of school when I was a kid, I went home for lunch and I liked it that way. I have very fond memories of open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches and sweet pickles eaten while watching the Flintstones or Droopy the Dog on TV.

What do you think? Is it better and easier for the kids to stay at school during the lunch hour, or if you were in my situation would you be schlepping back and forth four times a day?


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chantal August 25, 2008 at 11:15 am

My D eats at school since both hubby and I work full time. I am on the school council and recently asked about lunch time. Our school is moving to a Balanced school day which breaks up lunch time into two snack breaks. One a bit earlier than traditional lunch, and one a bit later. I asked how this would affect any kids who ate at home… I was surprised to find out that with a population of 600 kids only one family has their kids go home to eat lunch. I couldn’t get over that.

2 Roz August 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm

My dad picked both my sister and i up for lunch and took us home where we always watched leave it to beaver.

While i liked watching tv in the middle of the day, i found that i missed out on what the other kids were doing. They ate lunch together and then played at recess together and i didn’t get to join in. I felt like a bit of an outsider and although i always had friends, i felt that their friendships with each other were *that* much better because of the extra hour they spent together.

3 Jenn August 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Is it possible to arrange a single day each week where he could come home for lunch? My mom used to send notes in on the day she would be picking me up. I have fond memories of the comforting lunches and cartoons too.

4 andrea from the fishbowl August 25, 2008 at 2:51 pm

We’re quite close to our school and I’ve never brought the kids home for lunch. They prefer to eat with their friends and play that be stuck at home with boring ol’ mom. 😉

I like Jenn’s idea. You can set up a Friday lunch date or something. I think that would be a nice balance of both worlds

5 Fawn August 25, 2008 at 3:49 pm

Whatever you decide, remember it’s not set in stone. Maybe he’d like to come home for the first week or two and then only occasionally after that. Maybe he’ll want something different in Grade Two. Or maybe you should just make your own life easier and encourage him to stay at school, even if he’s uncomfortable with it at first. (Jenn’s idea sounds like a good balance, too.)

I remember feeling a bit envious of the boy in our Grade 6 class who went home for lunch (he was old enough to walk himself, of course).

Now at risk of really shocking everyone, if the school is truly right across the street, can’t you leave Lucas and Simon in the house for 3 minutes and meet Tristan at the nearest point of the school fence or something…?

6 Shan August 25, 2008 at 6:31 pm

We do balanced day here too (two nutrition breaks) so coming home for lunch really isn’t an option. I have found that having lunch with her class has been great for my daughter in the social sense. Allowing her to bond and build relationships with her peers “outside” of the classroom setting.

That being said I think if you have the option (close to the school, one lunch period a day) a weekly lunch date could be a great idea.

7 chichimama August 25, 2008 at 7:19 pm

In the exact same situation here. I have settled on C coming home on “special days,” such as when I am taking A out to lunch anyway, birthdays, and other such “special” occasions. While I love the idea of him coming home at lunch, I think given his issues making friends at school that having him not interacting with the other kids during playground time would make it that much worse for him. But there are plenty of parents here who do pick their kids up on a regular basis. He really wants to come home, which makes it that much harder. I have said that he needs to try having lunch at school for one month, and then we will reassess.

And yes, the making of a lunch and placing it in a lunch box everyday is totally freaking me out, I have no idea how I will manage.

8 Batman August 25, 2008 at 8:08 pm

I like Jenn’s idea too. IMHO, kids will build stronger relationships at school the longer they hang out with their friends. This could have longer term impacts on their ability to socialize throughout the rest of their lives. I’m no rocket surgeon though…

9 crazymumma August 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm

That is alot of schlepping.

How about lunch a home a couple days a week, lunch at school the rest?

10 DaniGirl August 26, 2008 at 5:26 am

Thanks for your comments, all. Chantal, that shocks me, too. Wow!

Of course, you’re right, nothing is set in stone, and whatever I decide may well have to change in February when the nanny / daycare starts. But I think the most important aspect is the social one, and that one hadn’t occurred to me before I asked the question. When I had to stay at school for lunch, I hated it, but when I was allowed to choose, it seemed like a treat.

Anyway, excellent comments as always. Thanks!!

11 Rev. Dr. Mom August 26, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I’ve never been in a place where kids COULD go home for lunch. In NYC, the Kid went out for lunch, but unless you lived next to the school, there wouldn’t have been time to go home. But as others said, I think missing the social aspect would be hard unless everyone, or almost everyone, went home.

12 Annika August 26, 2008 at 2:03 pm

You’re getting a nanny in February? Cool. Could you please let me know which agency you are using? Are you having a live-in or live-out?

Leave him at school — the social aspect is very important. Plus, you and Baby Lucas are not going to have any time for yourselves with that amount of schlepping!

13 Sharon August 27, 2008 at 11:24 am

Where we are we don’t have much of a choice. Nathan stays at school and when i was working there only 1 KID was picked up for lunch and went home and another family the mother picked one of her 3 kids up one day each week so every 3rd week the kid had lunch alone with mom, and course the parents are spearated so this was a special one on one time for them.

Out of 150 kids in our school only those go home. Most of the kids are bussed there anyways.

14 Marianne August 29, 2008 at 1:05 am

While my daughter isn’t in school yet, but I’m an elementary teacher so I have a different take on it. I’d say ask your son what he would prefer longer term. I suggest leaving him at school for lunch the first day, however, because it is when lunch routines are explained and established so he will know what is expected. Also, socially the first days of school are very important for a class to be together and get to know each other — especially in larger schools where you aren’t automatically with the same classmates year after year.

I liked the suggestion of setting up a day or two a week for him to come home for lunch. Remember, you want to look ahead to the winter months — do you want to have to bundle up Lucase those extra 2 times a day in the middle of the day to go and pick Lucas up and take him back to school?

Good luck with the start of the school year!

15 Karen MEG August 29, 2008 at 8:32 am

Well, my boy was used to eating in a daycare setting when I was working and he was in kindergarten. When he moved to Grade 1, he didn’t want to come home for lunch because all of his friends were staying in. Which worked well for me because I had baby girl.

I think in the 2 years that he’s been full time now, only one classmate has gone home for lunch. The thing now is, if there are special occasions I may take him out… or, get this, he sometimes likes sushi for lunch, so I will drop it off for him at lunch so it’s fresh (and I am soooo not the only mom dropping off hot lunches at lunch).

Good luck with the transition; maybe just let him try it out a few days of the week and see if he likes it. I bet as the school year progresses he’ll want to stay with his friends.

16 Jody September 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm

This must be a Canadian thing, eh? In the States, no one seems to go home for lunch anymore. And I like it that way — clean break, only one set of good-byes.

I don’t know. Whatever you decide, you can always revise it down the road.

17 Valerie September 4, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Seems to me you’d only be making one extra trip (to drop off Tristan after lunch) since you have to pick both boys up anyway (one at noon, one after school). N’est-ce pas? I hadn’t thought about the social aspect – I went home for lunch until grade 8, but most of my friends did, too. I like the idea of one day a week at home.

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