Defining “Kindependence”

Do you find yourself asking difficult questions at the end of the year? And setting (sometimes unattainable) goals to change the whole world order every January?

At chick*u*do, we spent the majority of 2017 discussing the concept of “kindependence.” To be successful in life, every child needs to practice being independent — with a dash of kindness added to the mix. And the secret to achieving this goal? We parents need to step back and practice letting our children be independent. 

According to author Michael Thompson, “Independence is like high jumping: You have to run and jump and sometimes fail, and then put the bar back up and run and jump again. As a parent, you’ll wince when your kids hit that bar, but you can’t jump for them.”

The ultimate job for every parent is to raise kids that are prepared to leave home, and it’s never too soon to start teaching your little ones life skills. January is a great time to create new habits for you and your family.

For this week’s Walk the Walk, start a conversation with your children about kindependence.

• Write the term kindependence on a piece a paper.
• Ask your kids to interpret the word.
• Explain what the word means to you as a parent.
• As a family, write a definition of kindependence.

• Post your final draft in a family space for reference.

Point to the definition when you assign new chores or your kids react negatively to existing assignments. Give your kids one new task in January, be it packing lunch (with u*do*lunch!) or tackling their own laundry. As always, encourage them to Walk the Walk — one step at a time.

Until Next Time,

chick*u*do, co-founder

The Green Kitchen Gift Guide

With the new year approaching, it’s a great time to make a family resolution to reduce household waste. The following items will make great stocking stuffers for family and friends.

Mesh Produce Bags
By now, we’ve all seen — and hopefully used — reusable grocery bags, but think about how much additional plastic your family wastes packing up produce at the grocery store. These BPA-free mesh bags come in many sizes and are easy to clean using the gentle cycle (air dry). You can also use them to purchase bulk items like nuts and rice.

Beeswax Wrap
Did you know there is a natural alternative to plastic wrap for food storage? Made from cotton fabric coated in beeswax, this wrap is reusable, economical and environmentally-friendly. Order online or make your own!

Fabric Sandwich Bags
There are loads of washable sandwich/snack bags on the market today. Look for food safe fabrics that are phthalate, lead, BPA, and PVC free. They are perfect packing sliced fruit, sandwiches, and dry snacks in school lunches. Encourage buy-in by letting your kids pick their favorite patterns and designs.

Travel Cutlery Set
This stainless steel flatware comes with a carrying case for school lunch, travel, camping, or even take out. Don’t need chopsticks on the go? Replace them with your favorite reusable straw.

Reusable K-Cup Filters
If you love the ease of Keurig coffee, cut waste with reusable K-Cup filters. These stainless steel micro mesh filters also allow you to make your own gourmet ground coffee in a Keurig brewer.

Be sure to discuss why you are making changes at home with your family. Ask your kids

• How well do these new products work for you?
• What kind of reusable lunch items are your friends bringing to school?
• Do you have any ideas about how we can reduce waste in 2018?

Take the conversation a step further by writing online reviews of the products you bring into your home. As always, encourage your kids to Walk the Walk — one step at a time.

Until Next Time,
chick*u*do, co-founder

Weekday Lunch Hacks

Giving Back

As the holiday season approaches, many parents face the annual question of “how much is too much?” From sweets treats to gifts galore, American families face a slippery slope towards spoiling our next generation.

Encourage gratitude in your family’s attitude this holiday season by blocking off some time to give back. No matter what your age, volunteering in your community has untold benefits. You not only get to help others but also get to have fun, meet new people, and try new activities.

A positive volunteer experience offers kids an energizing escape from the pressure they face at school and home. Research shows youth who volunteer feel more connected to their community, adapt better to unfamiliar social situations, have better social skills, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior.

A commitment to giving back is one of the most precious gifts you can give your kids. Talk to your kids today about how they would like to give back. Make a plan, and give reluctant children an opportunity to invite a friend along for the ride.

Seeing Environmental Problems — and Solutions

This morning I stumbled upon our family copy of 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12. I’m sad to report that this little gem appears to be out of print, but flipping through the book reminded me about the power of experiential learning.

If you want to encourage your kids to become good stewards of planet Earth, make a plan to visit these four locations.

The average American generates about 4.5 pounds of trash per day. The majority of our waste is buried in landfills, a huge source of methane and groundwater/soil contamination. Your local landfill is far from the prettiest place on Earth, but the smells alone will encourage your kids to re-double their recycling efforts.

Recycling Center
Recycling creates a closed-loop system where unwanted materials are returned to manufacturers for use in new products. It not only saves resources but also prevents pollution, supports public health, and creates jobs. Nearly 90% of what we throw away could potentially be recovered through reuse, recycling or composting.

Center for Hard to Recycle Materials
If you live in a place with a permanent drop-off facility for household hazardous waste, consider yourself lucky. In Atlanta, CHaRM provides educational sessions about the importance of proper disposal of hard to recycle materials. Each year the organization diverts thousands of pounds of items from Metro-Atlanta landfills and water systems.

Water Treatment Plant
The science and engineering required to deliver potable water is truly amazing. Seeing this effort first hand will encourage the whole family to conserve water and reduce pollution. In Atlanta, Hemphill Water Treatment Plant is generally open for tours once or twice a year.

Don’t under estimate the power experiential learning. Make Google your friend on this mission — you needn’t travel far to drive home a serious environmental message.

The Last Straw

Every piece of plastic ever made is still on this planet in some form. Since we know that single use plastic is filling our landfills and clogging our oceans, it’s time to start considering the long-term impact of our behaviors — and teaching our kids to do the same. Giving up plastic completely is daunting so start small by saying no to plastic straws.
Step 1
Take the “OneLessStraw Pledge.” This nonprofit organization was founded by two kids on a mission to cut plastic straw usage worldwide. You get to choose how much to donate for every plastic straw used — or accepted — during the next 30 days. The bigger the number, the easier it will be to break your straw addiction.
Step 2
Do the change by saying ‘no’ to straws. Many servers are trained to automatically give you a straw with your drink. Get in the habit of asking for your drink without a straw when you order.
Step 3
If you simply can’t live without a straw, hop online to order a set of reusable stainless steel straws. These durable straws are easy to clean with a scrub brush and are dishwasher friendly. If you prefer a straw suitable for hot liquids or ones which do not have a metallic taste, consider glass straws. Either way, be sure to keep a stash of reusable straws in your car or purse for use on the go.
Step 4
Let your family to become part of the solution. If your kids are inspired (and they will be), encourage them to spread the word about the OneLessStraw Pledge.
Banana Dog

Hacking It: Simplifying Lunch

Regardless of whether your family uses our u*do*lunch product, weekday lunches do not need to be complicated. Here are some quick and easy suggestions to simplify the process:

  1. Get creative.
    Your child wants a vegetable or fruit, yet you find that the majority of what you buy spoils before you finish it? Who says that the produce needs to be fresh? Today’s frozen produce options come packed with almost the same nutritional value as fresh (and in some instances, even more if picked ripe and in season). It’s a great idea to keep frozen vegetables and fruits in your house! This way, your kids can pack these as part of lunch the night before and only use what is needed for lunch. It’s a win-win in your house = kids get what they want and you reduce waste (for more on waste, see last week’s blog)!
  2. Be flexible.
    If you want your kids to try new foods, allow them to try them in a variety of ways. Yes, we realize that several of our vegetables in u*do*lunch are a little loose (potatoes are usually more of a starch, as are corn muffins). You want your kids to try olives? Why not start with olive bread? Set rules so that your child isn’t constantly picking the starch option as the vegetable. And use this time to explain both variety and nutritional values. Even if you don’t think he/she is listening, we bet you’re wrong (and hey, isn’t it worth being wrong here?).
  3. Have fun!
    Your kids watch everything you do. Have fun with the process and your kids will pick up on it. Does your kid like nut butter (or sunbutter) but is tired of sandwiches? We don’t blame them! Try something slightly different — like a banana dog! Spread nut butter on a bun, and pack an unpeeled banana (so it doesn’t turn brown). You kid can assemble their own banana dog at lunch.

Want to learn more ways to optimize u*do*lunch? Join us for a workshop the evening of Sunday, November 12 at the Center for Love and Light. It’s FREE with every purchase of u*do*lunch kit. Enter promo code “workshop” at check-out, and we will provide your kit that night! Click here for more information and to register today! Spots are limited.

Walk the Walk Wednesday, Vol 2

The Value of Food

Ah, the dreaded “lunchbox dump.” And I’m not talking about those super cute dump truck lunch boxes at Target. I mean the massive disappointment of emptying a seemingly UNTOUCHED lunch tray directly into the garbage after a long day of work. Frustrating, isn’t it?

The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 30-40 percent of food is wasted in America. A 2016 study at Ohio State University found that a majority of Americans believe food waste is a problem but find it difficult to reduce their own waste. Clearly people don’t get greens for the garbage, purchase peaches to pitch ’em, or collect cabbage to compost.

With ever-changing preferences and small stomachs, kids unwittingly contribute to the cycle of waste. Teaching your children to value food at a young age will lead to better habits. Allowing your kids to control their lunch is a great place to start.

u*do*lunch empowers kids to

— PLAN a week of meals with consideration to leftovers and produce in the fridge.

— PURCHASE using our free downloadable grocery list. This is a great opportunity to start a conversation about price, value, and seasonal items.

— PREPARE lunch. If they pick and prep the food, they will be more likely to eat it. This is also a great opportunity to talk about portion size.

— PACK appropriate portions.

Ask your kids to bring home their leftovers so you can monitor and discuss waste. This process will not only give kids the tools they need to value food but also help you save money.

For this week’s Walk the Walk, start a conversation with your children about food waste.

• Why do you think a third of the food supply is wasted in America?
• Would you be willing to eat “imperfect” produce to reduce your waste?
• Do you have other ideas about how we can reduce food waste as a family?

Write down the results of your brainstorm, and as a family commit to one idea for the month of October, be it planning your meals or starting to compost. As always, encourage them to Walk the Walk — one step at a time.

Until Next Time,
chick*u*do, co-founder

Making Investments in Lunch Products

If you’re like me, at the end of every summer, you quickly assess your school inventory and scramble to restock for the upcoming school year. I aim to take close inventory and purchase only WHAT I think we need. However, I often spend more on new backpacks, lunch boxes, containers, and water bottles. And then there’s the “cool” new item that my kids must have. So, when it’s all said and I done, I have quickly spent a chunk of change to just get my kids out the door for their first day of school.
And we are now all back to school (and yes, we in the south go back much earlier it seems than the rest of the country). So possibly the last thing you are thinking is about another back-to-school item, especially after you have spent time and money, and we are well into the year.
But what if I challenged you that this isn’t a WHAT item, but rather a HOW item?! After all, spending that money on the products does not help my kids learn how to pack their school bags nor their lunches nor does it prepare them for the weeks and months ahead.
But, u*do*lunch is that HOW product! Yes, it is a physical item. But it is also so much more than that. It teaches kids the essential Ps – to Plan, Purchase, Prepare, and Pack their lunches. This product helps kids become active members of their household, directly teaching meal planning and nutrition while also indirectly teaching kids the value of products and the cost of waste. It also takes the complete ownership off of the parents and transfers part of it to the kids, which we have learned that kids want and cherish.

The Novelty Has Worn Off. Now What?

Have you ever engaged your children in activity and they are excited at first but the enthusiasm is quickly replaced with anxiety of just another thing to do? How do you cope when the novelty wears off? Because guess what?! The novelty will wear off!

When it comes to activities with kids, it is critical to teach them what to do beyond their initial excitement. Otherwise, it becomes just another thing – an activity, a toy, a game, – that gets tossed to the side.

At chick*u*do, we believe that children are active and contributing members of their households. When we engage our kids in the everyday processes, we teach them lifelong skills. “Novelty wears off with tools; it’s inevitable and in fact good. When it happens it becomes time for the serious work to happen. Novelty is replaced by commitment to the cause.” -Andy Mort, Author.

That novelty is what gets us excited initially, and it can also be what gets our kids excited. But after that fades, we are faced with the choice: to commit to the endeavor or to go after the next shiny object. And as a parent, one of your jobs is to teach your children this delicate balance. Does it always work? No. Should we always commit? No. But facing those no’s is equally important as teaching kids to also trudge through what may eventually seem mundane.

At chick*u*do, we started our company with u*do*lunch as we believe it is a great launching point to engage parents and school-age children. As our tagline indicates, we are committed to working to “hatch independent kids” and are planning to do more than help kids plan lunches. We want to help you see those hatchlings off!

“If you want to teach, to change minds or to cause action, a consistent curriculum is always better than a single event.” -Seth Godin, Renowned Speaker & Author.

Novelty is fun at first – but commit to making routine. After all, a wise person once said “practice makes pattern.” Aiming for patterns in our lives and our children’s lives makes everyone life easier without the added pressure of trying to achieve the unattainable. Good luck making a new pattern in your life!