CASA GRANDE — OK parents, if you’re anything like me, you don’t exactly jump for excitement at Brown Bag Lunch Day at your kids’ school, but after surviving almost 10 years of them, I’m here to offer some insight and help to those just starting on their elementary school parenting path.

For starters, Brown Bag Lunch Day is what our girls’ schools call it when parents can join their kids for lunch at school ... in the cafeteria ... with all of the other kids ... and their guests ... and their baby siblings ... If you’re thinking, “Wow! That sounds loud,” you’re 100% correct.

Here’s the thing. As “good” parents, we’re expected to love these things and that is entirely due to the parents and guardians who really do love this kind of things (there are a few). You know who I’m talking about, they’re the ones who make the rest of us look bad for asking if mimosas will be served (which I maintain is a fair question). So in order to keep up with these overachievers, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Regardless of your personal feelings, these days are magical for the kids. As simple as it seems to us, the kids get so excited to have guests join them and it shows that we’re invested in their school lives, so slap a smile on your face and get, or at least act, excited.
  • If you’re planning to bring lunch from a restaurant, leave plenty of time to get it. Remember, Happy Meals are in high demand on these days and the drive-thru will reflect that.
  • If you’re going to pack a simple lunch and bring it, don’t. You’re seriously making the rest of us look like we’re awful parents. Grab a $5 pizza and get in the trenches with the rest of us.
  • Have an alliance with other parents/families who will know to save you a spot at a table on the days where it appears everyone’s calendar was wide open and who know to grab an extra bean and cheese burrito for your picky-eating child on the days you’re running late.
  • Bring a few bucks in cash to support the PTO or student council, which sometimes sells treats, pencils or school shirts because, yes, your kid does need that ten-thousandth pencil because this one smells like a strawberry. Don’t bother attempting to rationalize with your kid about this either. These atmospheres prevent any type of reasoning from occurring (no scientist can explain it) and it’s simply not worth the sad puppy dog eyes anyway. Buy the pencil.

The schools that provide these opportunities are awesome. It’s not easy to pull these things off. It’s a genuine effort to foster a connection to the families they serve and should be commended. You might leave with a headache from the noise, but don’t leave without saying thank you.

All joking aside, I’ve loved the time I’ve spent with our girls and their friends at these lunch days and I know my husband feels the same. We’ve met some amazing families and kids and have loved building relationships with the school employees whose hands we trust our daughters in about 180 days a year. It is to those people, teachers, staff and principals alike (you know who you are) that we’d like to say thank you for everything you do for our girls to help them learn, grow and feel safe and for being a part of why we all love our lives!

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Contributing writer Skyla Teel is a wife, mom, professor, rodeo coach and life coach. She can be reached at skyla@skylateel.com.

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