Share Your Story: Smuckers Kidvitations

This is a sponsored post from BlogHer and Smuckers.

I’m not sure where I first got the idea of putting notes in our little man’s lunchbox. I know that it wasn’t any sort of original concept, so my best guess is that I probably saw Claire Huxtable put a note in one of her kids’ lunchboxes on The Cosby Show when I was younger. Of course I wasn’t consciously trying to pick up parenting tips from a TV show when I was, you know, thirteen, but I’ve never been one to underestimate the lasting influence of a family sitcom.

I mean, do you know how many times I’ve thought about Jan Brady running into the family portrait on her bicycle when I’m trying to teach our son about being responsible?



Regardless of where the idea originated, I first started putting notes in Alex’s lunches when he was in Mothers’ Day Out. At the time he couldn’t really read, of course, so I’d just draw a big heart and then sign “Mama” at the bottom. When he started four year-old kindergarten and was recognizing a few words, I moved up to “Alex – I love you, Mama” – and the notes have gotten more elaborate over the last couple of years. He always thanks me for the notes when I pick him up from school, and lots of times I’ll find the notes when I unpack his lunchbox – with little jelly or Cheetos fingerprints all along the edges.

Last year Alex ate in the school cafeteria a good bit (I have NO IDEA why, but he really gets a kick out of going through the lunch line), so I didn’t pack lunches nearly as often. But at the end of the school year, his class had a field day, and since the cafeteria was going to be closed that day, the teachers asked us to send a lunch to school.

It just so happened that the week of field day was a hard one for us because our dog Maggie died. She hadn’t been well for awhile, and I don’t think any of us were prepared for how difficult it was when she finally passed away. Alex took her death particularly hard – it was the first time he’s ever had to say good-bye to something he loved – and the week was filled with hard questions and hard answers. We talked a lot about the fact that there’s purpose in every single thing that happens in our lives, and we talked about how grateful we were that we got to share life with Maggie.

But oh, how he cried. And oh, how he missed her.

When I was packing his lunch the Friday morning of field day, I decided to stick a note inside. I tried to make it upbeat and comforting because I knew how much his little heart was still hurting. And sure enough, when I picked him up from school that afternoon, he said, “Thanks, Mama, for the note you sent me. It made me smile.”

A few days ago I asked Alex why he likes it so much when I send him little notes, and he said, “Because when I’m thinking about you at school, the note reminds me that you’re thinking about me, too.” It’s such a small thing to do – it literally takes less than a minute – but I really do believe that that kind of intentional, loving communication with our kids reaps huge benefits. If you’ve ever written a note to your child(ren), you know that you can see the joy all over their face when they read it.

After the little guy and I talked for a few minutes about lunchbox notes, I had a hunch. Since field day was the last lunch I packed this past school year – and since he told me at the end of that day that he threw away all of his trash at school – I wondered if maybe he held onto the note when lunch was over. So I went in the pantry, pulled the lunchbox off the shelf, and sure enough, I found what I suspected that I would.

He kept it.

Bless his heart.

To celebrate the ways that moms connect with their kids over lunch – whether it’s by putting a note in a lunchbox or making special plans to sit in the backyard and eat sandwiches together – Smuckers has created a really neat program called Kidvitations. It’s a way for parents to intentionally make mealtimes special – and I think it’s awesome. I also think that you and your kids are going to love it.

If you’d like to enter to win a $200 Visa gift card, leave a comment and tell me one of your favorite ways to connect with the children in your life.

There are also Smuckers roundup page.

And if you enjoy a little light reading, you’re sure to be delighted by the Smuckers official rules.

This giveaway will run through August 23rd, at which point I’ll use to select a winner.

Can’t wait to read your comments!

Create a Kidvitation!

Home can be a busy place with the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That’s why it’s important to set time aside to spend with your kids. Use Smuckers® Kidvitations to invite your kids to share a moment with you over a perfect PB&J. Check it out.

This giveaway is now closed.

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  1. Heather Gemas says:

    I love the connection of sitting around a table with them (and yes, with food). If feels like it is one of the only times that everyone’s attention is focused and can be heard.

  2. My kids are still little, so no lunches to pack yet. But we try and eat dinner as a family every night and talk about our day. And if we don’t do it then, we talk about our day and whats going on the next day when I tuck them in at night. They are 3 1/2, 2 and 6 months, so basically we do a lot of connecting ALL.THE.TIME!

  3. Even though my three youngest are 13, 10 and 8, I still read to them every night and they love it.

  4. My baby isn’t here yet… 6 weeks to go! I connect with him by talking to him and patting his little hiney when he wiggles around in my belly!

  5. One of the best ways or times to connect is while you are in the vehicle transporting the kiddos from one place to another.

  6. Sarah C. says:

    My little girl (1 1/2) loves it when we read Goodnight Moon every night at bed time. She refers to it as “Moon” and loves finding the little mouse throughout the book.

  7. Such a sweet post! I am not going to lie, I cried a little bit. I love the idea of doing things like this when my sweet Amelia is older. For now, my favorite thing to do to connect with her is to snuggle up and read books together.

  8. Both of my kids really enjoy cuddling and reading together – and that’s something this bookworm Mama can totally handle!

  9. I am the mom of 3 boys. I learned with my oldest that the time boys like to talk is late at night. So, I have a policy that if they get home late and start talking I won’t go to bed until they stop talking. In fact, I won’t even get up to go to the bathroom (they might turn on the Tv while I’m gone) It’s led to some late nights but with teenage boys you have to be available when they’re talking – it doesn’t happen often.

  10. Some of the favorite moments in my day happen right when my almost-five-year-old wakes up in the morning and comes to sit on my lap in the living room. It is one of the few times in her day when she isn’t busy playing and I cherish just getting to talk about what she dreamed about or what she wants to do that day.

  11. I connect with my daughter by spending the evenings with her in the master bedroom. We use this time to read books, enjoy manicures and pedicures and sometimes draw and color together. In the midst of all the fun, we often talk about things that are important to her and I try to sneak in lessons along the way. She’s six now and loves the special one-on-one time with momma. While we’re in the bedroom, daddy and baby sister, who’s two, are in the living room enjoying their end-of-the-day routine, which consists of reading books, singing songs and having some milk before bedtime. It’s a win-win for everyone and works great for our little family.

  12. My little boy is only 1, but since he has been eating in his highchair we always make it a point to eat together at the dinner table. No tv and no distractions. I hope this will create a habit and continue on as he grows. It is a great time to sit around and catch up with everyone and talk about their day!

  13. I like to play boardgames with my kids.

  14. On these summer mornings where we don’t have much of a schedule, I keep my pregnant self in bed until I HAVE to get up. After a while my girls start to wander in, and they crawl in with me. We talk about the day before, or the day coming up, or if they had an interesting dream. I’m really, really going to miss that when they start school again.

  15. Right now, we love to crawl into the bed after bath time and read a “chapter book” together. We each take turns reading aloud. It’s super simple, but has led to countless discussions, giggles, and even a few heartbroken tears (at which point we all look at each other and say ‘stupid show!’…not sure why!). My kids will even ask during the day sometimes if we can please read just one chapter! I love this time together, and I’m thinking they do too!

  16. We connect each morning on the way to school. Each day one of us prays. Everyone gets to share if they have any special prayer requests for the day and then we pray before we get to school. Some of my prayers start out with “Please forgive me for yelling at the kids to get in the car”. . . but it is a great way to start their morning before school! :)

  17. Bed time and nap time. Who can resist a three year old asking to snuggle?

  18. We have 2 fun things that we like to do.

    1. We read our Bible and devotional at the end of the evening and I try to get both the girls to talk through the things on their little 4 and 5 year old hearts.

    2. We LOVE to go to the movies and/or get ice cream whenever we get the chance. It is one of our family’s favorite summer activities!

  19. my little girl is only 6 months old and it amazes me that she is already looking for moments to connect with me. she will be happy as a clam, playing in her exersaucer, and every couple of minutes she will look over at me. if i’m not looking at her she is fine and goes back to playing, but if i give her any attention at all– oh, she just lights UP! i love the idea of connecting with your kids in creative ways as they get older, and as a youth pastor– i definitely see how HUGE an impact that has on kids, even if they never admit that to their parents.

  20. I put notes in my kids lunches too. I never knew what they meant to them until one day I didn’t do it.

    We also pray as we drive to school. It helps each of us face the day with a great attitude. {Which is tough…we’re not morning people}

  21. Melissa B. says:

    I love giving my niece and nephews books. Right now, they are just children’s books, but as they get older so will the books. Favorite books are usually the one thing that never get thrown away, so I hope they have them to remember their childhood for a long time.

  22. My boys are still little, but I really love the funny thoughts that go through their head at the dinner table. They tell my husband the most adorable things and it’s fun to see what was memorable to them that day!

  23. I find that children like to create and give even more than they like to receive. One example: when my nieces and nephews visit, I help them make bookmarks with drawings and stickers. Then I laminate them for them to give. Of course they give one to me and I make sure to be using it when they visit – they know that I’m thinking about them every time I read!

  24. J. Johnson says:

    I write notes for my daughter on napkins in her lunch. Even now that she is in middle school, she loves getting her notes. We also cook and bake together. With my son, we like to watch movies, go bike riding, and just hang out together.

  25. My children are no longer small and live at home so I had to learn to adapt to speak with them…on their terms. So we text, and Facebook message and chat. Baby girl is going away to college in a few short weeks so we have set up Skype for those times when I just need to put my eyes on her. I love technology!

  26. As long as you can keep the line of communication open, you can have a wonderful relationship. I ask my two children each and every day,”What is going on, What’s happening with you?” My daughter is 16 and my son is 22 and I have found, if I don’t ask them questions, I will never know anything. But as long as I ask, they seem to have no problems in telling me.

  27. Brittany says:

    Every night after a few books and prayers I ask both of my boys what there 3 favorite things were from the day. I love to see their little brains thinking and reviewing the day that we have had.

  28. I have a small mailbox that I keep on the breakfast counter – when I know our granddaughter is coming to visit I usually stock it with stickers and treats and flip the red flag up. Once she learns to read, I’ll be adding notes for sure!

  29. Anthony Byars says:

    Dinner time together.

  30. Stephanie says:

    I have 2 teenage girls now but I used to love to put notes in their lunchboxes. I would sometimes just draw on their napkins and they’d always keep them. My oldest daughter and I like to spend time in the kitchen together and my younger daughter and I like to play games together. I’ve found that one-on-one time with each one gives them the freedom to open up and talk honestly.

  31. Sarah Kate in WA state says:

    I love doing the note in the lunchbox, too (or written on a banana….though that method is not “save-able”!!) Another favorite of mine is our “book picnics in bed”….the kids will grab a stack of favorite books, a blanket, and we’ll pile on my bed for a reading “feast”. Perfect on those cold, rainy WA afternoons!

  32. Holly Edwards says:

    I have no children, but when I do, I would love to write them little love notes!

  33. Brittany says:

    I connect with my little man at bedtime. He is just 2 and starting to be able to tell me about his day. It is fun to hear him review all the things he got to do each day in his little way.

  34. We read together.

  35. Melissa F says:

    I found it was beneficial to spend one-on-one time with both of my children. It made them feel special, even if it was just riding along with me while I did errands. Some of the best conversations I had with them when they were growing up occurred as we were driving in the car. Perhaps it was easier to open up about things when they weren’t having to make direct eye contact with me LOL.

  36. Jennifer says:

    I’m blessed to be able to share lunchtime with my two-year-old daughter every day. My favorite part of the experience is taking her order. She always requests, “A samich!! Peena budder jerry!!!” It’s the best part of my day. Well, that and naptime. ;)

  37. The best way for us to connect is in my bed– at night when we’re all in pajamas, they climb in bed with me and we watch something kid-friendly while chatting and laughing. It’s just cozy, warm, loving family time. The hard part is dragging them out of my room for bedtime in THEIR OWN ROOMS!!!

  38. I, too, enjoy the time alone in the car, especially when I have them one at a time. They are a captive audience, and usually I cant get their attention pretty quickly. I’ve even been known to take “the long way” to extend the conversation.

  39. We make it a point to always have dinner together as much as possible. We ask each one what happened and talk about our day together.

  40. Stacey A says:

    I do what I call the Mommy-trap when I get home from work with my two kiddos. It basically entails a ginormous bear hug from me that my kiddo cant escape until they tell me about their day and we say I Love You to each other. It works while they are still little and I can get a little snuggle time in also. Plus it never hurts to hear the L word even if they are trapped until they say it. =)

  41. I love to connect with children by finding out what they like to do and then doing it with them!

  42. Since Precious and I drive home from school together everyday because she attends where I teach, we have a good 20 to 30 minutes to debrief everyday.

    The first thing I do when we get in the car is to ask for her High and Low of the day. It gives her a chance to tell me about her day while processing her own thoughts about any negative happenings. Often she finds that her lows are not so low and highs have become much easier to identify.

  43. Kate Keith says:

    My daughter is 6, and though she is certainly old enough to do her own bath, I still do it for her! While we make bubble beards and write on the walls in soap crayon, she happily chats away about what happened in her day, who she played with, what made her happy or sad. I know the day is coming when I won’t get this sweet time at the end of the day, so I will bathe her as long as she is willing!

  44. My 2 favorite ways – reading to them and just making it a point to sit and listen to them. My boys love nothing more than having a specific time where we are focused on just them.

  45. We have devotion time in the mornings. It is a great way to start the day and get our thoughts on the Lord.

  46. With three young boys (ages 4, 2, and 4-months), it is hard to connect. But I try to make a conscious effort to spend time with each one, doing what it is he likes to do best.

  47. Billie Jo says:

    Our neice is very special to us! I love to send her little packages in the mail. I usually include a note telling her how much we love and miss her, along with something special inside just for her.

  48. I love to bake with my niece!

  49. Kate Barnett says:

    I have three nephews, and I keep them often. I like to make fun and messy food or crafts with them – stuff their parents don’t have the time or patience for! Peanut butter and Smuckers will always be a favorite go-to meal for these little guys!

  50. i always put notes in chrislenn’s lunch too! and she enjoys reading them to her friends so i’ll add a little extra for them too :)

  51. meeyeehere says:

    I do whatever my son is doing because he is two and that is how I get on his level and he likes it when I play his kind of games! Sometimes I come up with nice fun things for us to do and sometimes we enjoy down time with snacks and cuddles!

  52. Oh gosh, there are so many awesome ways to connect with our kids. And on different days, different things are the best for that moment. But I think my very favorite are our trips to Disneyland. We are blessed to live about 1/2 hour away and to have annual passes (thanks to my parents). It is just such a fun way to completely get away from everything that’s going on in our lives, have fun and just enjoy one another. But really- anything out of the house has this potential. I just find that when I’m stuck at home surrounded by dishes, to-do lists and laundry, it’s almost impossible for me to relax. So if I can get away and focus on just my little ones, we are so much better afterwards.

  53. Every morning we take the time to pray for each other and for safety throughout the day.

    We also play all sorts of silly games on the way to school. This wakes us up and helps start our day with a smile!

  54. With 4 boys ages 1-13 and all their activities it can be hard to have downtime together. We try to make Sat our family day and not schedule anything else. Sat nights before bed we have ‘family time’ and use that time to talk about what God wants us to be like as a family and as individuals. It’s a great time to reconnect.

  55. Robin M. says:

    Having dinner together as a family is always good :)

  56. Sarah G. says:

    I love reading to my boys. My mom read to me when I was little, and the moment I found out I was pregnant I started planning what I’d read to my kids when they were old enough. :)

  57. I always find that if I go to my kids room, crawl on the floor w/ them, at their level, they open up more and it’s just a different look in their eyes, so sweet, you can tell how much they love that their mommy is playing in the floor w/ them, and as we are playing, they start talking about more things! Love those moments!
    Ashley :)

  58. at night when i still put my 14 and 12 year old to bed…can i go to college with them and tuck them in?

  59. my kids are 27 and 23, gainfully employed, and I usually communicate with them through text. However, being a fan of the lost art of letter writing, I frequently send them little notecards for no particular reason. They usually keep them.

  60. I write notes in their lunches on their napkins! :) I love that little bit of connection.

    Every night when I tuck them I bed, I take a moment and press my forehead to theirs. Then I look deep in their eyes. “I love you,” I tell them. “No matter what, where you go or what you do, I will always love you.” The smiles I receive in return are priceless. And it’s the same smile every night. They never tire of hearing it. Then I place my hand on their heart, “Always,” I whisper, tapping their noses, “And forever.” It is my oldest who returns the gesture. Touching my heart and tapping my nose. “Always and forever.” he whispers back.

    No matter what.

  61. My oldest is just getting old enough for a note in the lunchbox, so I am looking forward to that. Right now we do cuddle time and singing their “baby songs” – the lullabies I sang to them when they were small.

  62. We connect as a family around the breakfast and dinner table. We share upcoming events and news from the day. I also slip notes in packed lunches from time to time and leave post-its around as well.

  63. Debbie Rutledge says:

    My children are grown now, but when they were little we had “tea time” after school. I would brew a pot of tea, we would have a special snack, and we would talk about their day, and mine–I was a teacher. They still talk about doing that.

  64. My little guy is only 9 months. I connect with him by sitting on the floor and building elaborate block towers for him to knock over. Sounds silly, but I think in our busy lifestyle there are so many times I could plop him on the floor to play while I do housework or whatever, but the dust will wait. He won’t be 9 months old for very long.

  65. I swim in the kiddy pool with them. Disgusting, but this is what memories are made of, I believe.

  66. Even though my four children range in age from 39 to 23 I still enjoy holiday get togethers with everyone present…Of course, the four grandkids always add some fun to the equation…

  67. Lacey C. says:

    Whenever I have a particularly trying day (or series of days) with one of my kids, I make an intentional effort to get some alone-time with them. I’ll take my son to the pet store or take my daughter out for ice cream alone – just us – so we can recover from all the friction. It’s so worth it!

  68. Can I share how my mother shared with me? She loved the feeling of writing on a banana with a ballpoint pen, so I got lots of “bananagrams” in my lunches. But my favorite: she would buy Plochman’s mustard with the skinny tip and write things to me on my bread! Thanks for bringing back the good memories. (And hope that mentioning another product doesn’t disqualify me!)

  69. Since my daughter is grown and on the go, texting her is the way to contact her…so I will just text her to tell her I love her and I’m thinking of her.

  70. I know this sounds crazy, but I think some of the best conversations my 6 year old son and I have are when we are grocery shopping together.

  71. My little girl is two and I am a full time working mommy. I try to be very intentional with the few hours I do have with her after work and before bed — whether that is sitting in the floor reading or wearing a tiara playing tea party. And I LOVE it when I go to say to her “I love you to the moon…” and she finishes “and back”. So sweet!

  72. I love the ‘sit around the table and talk about our day’ conversations….helps to stay connected with our family in general!

  73. My little boys are just 4 & 2 but I love reading and playing games with them.

  74. While I have no kids of my own yet, I do remember my mom putting notes in my lunch box and that is one thing I will do for my kids!!

  75. I love to get into bed with my almost 3 year old when I wake her up in the morning. We cuddle, tickle, laugh and connet before our day begins. It also gives me time to connect with her one on one without her new baby sister.

  76. Bedtime is our favorite time to snuggle, read and hear some pretty interesting comments. It’s amazing what they share when the lights are dim and the house is peaceful.

  77. Nita in SC says:

    Well, now that the little boy and girl I used to leave lunch notes for are Ginormous Teenagers, I occasionally text them something silly. Or post on their Facebook pages. They SAY they don’t like that, but they secretly do. Make technology work for you!

  78. When my little one wakes up in the morning, we go and sit in the rocking chair in her room and cuddle. It helps her wake up and blesses my heart so much!

  79. My son is almost 8 months old. I have grand visions of all the amazing things we will do together when he is older, but I want to cherish these special moments we have now. I just love to snuggle with him and play with him. The other day I let him take a nap with me (instead of in his crib), and as I snuggled I was just overcome by what a special blessing God has given me.

  80. One of my favorite things to do with my three girls is to have an indoor picnic. Sometimes there are distractions outside that make sharing the moment more difficult. They love sitting on the blanket, having lunch together and just talking. We talk about boys, school, friends and everything in between. It’s as simple as a PB&J sandwich, some chips and banana slices to get the girls to know I’m listening, that I care and that they can tell me anything.

    Because it’s indoor, it can happen all year long.

  81. I gathered up a whole bunch of “treasures” from my childhood that I was too sentimental to throw away. You know, crackerbox toys, prizes I won for art, award pins from Sunday School, souvenirs from vacation, etc. I put it all together in a gift bag and gave it to a special child in my life. I told her the stories attached to each item and added a few new things to the stash as well. She was thrilled, and I knew my “treasures” had found a new home, and I didn’t have to throw them away myself!

  82. My 3 are still home with me during the day, but sometimes our schedule still gets jam-packed and I love taking one-on-one time to connect with each one of them. I love for my two older ones to tell me stories and I type them out for our “book.” It’s my favoirte way to connect with them.

  83. I love one-on-one “dates” with my kids. Fun times!

  84. Debby A. says:

    My “little man” will be 33 years old (gasp!!!)in 2 weeks and your post brought tears to my eyes. (Love that he “kept it”. We’ve recently been thru a rough season with my father’s death from cancer and I wrote a letter to my son with appreciation for all his help during that time. A few days ago, he called to let me know he’d had a major struggle with an issue but when he remembered that letter, he had the strength to resist. Even as adults, our kiddos are affected by the effort we put forth to express our love to them!!!

  85. Well, I don’t have kids yet…but I love it when my mom and I sit in the kitchen, and I read out recipes from her newly-arrived cooking magazines and she yays or nays them. Odd, but I like it.

  86. We love spending time together and one of the favorites with my kids is standing at the counter reading to them over breakfast and lunch. Home schooling helps out and makes having more time even easier. PB and jelly sushi rolls made with tortillas is a treat whenever we have it!

  87. I like to get down on the floor an play with my boys. I grew up one of two girls and didn’t know anything about boy toys or games until I had one of my own. Some days I’m girl-Hulk, girl-Iron Man, girl-Spiderman, and girl-Wolverine all within a couple of hours. I enjoy spending time with my boys playing the pretend games that they like to play.

  88. Stacy Kearney says:

    We go “camping” with our daughter on weekend nights. Whichever one of us puts her to bed creates a campsite in her bedroom where we will fall asleep. After story time we lay down and snooze. Eventually the parent wakes up and puts her into her own bed, but we really look forward to talking with her as we fall asleep.

  89. CW Hughes says:

    When I have to be gone on business, I leave post-it notes with messages on the bathroom mirror and then notes in my boys’ lunches.

  90. charlotte says:

    Talking with them after we get home from church services on Sunday… asking them what they learned and how they can use those lessons.


  91. I’m the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at church. I’m single. No kids of my own. But don’t think for a minute that I won’t go pick up a couple of the kids and go out for ice cream or an afternoon at the park…or both! They are worth the investment!

    And I just bought some smuckers today…maybe I need to make some type of Jelly surprise and drop it by for a couple of the kids to snack on…

  92. I connect with my older 2 kids best when I tuck them in at night. That’s when they’ll tell me things that are on their heart. The younger 2 – anytime we’re snuggling together!

  93. I’m only 17, but I like to buy SillyBands so that I can trade them with the kids at our church. They think it’s so cool that I’m interested in something that they really love. They’re all pretty addicted to trading the little rubber bands.

  94. Jenn H. says:

    I love to make cookies with both of my girls. And as my oldest will start kindergarten next week (!!!??!?), I plan on packing her a lunch with love notes included! Thanks for he great idea/reminder!

  95. Junglewife says:

    I think it’s fun just to catch them at an unexpected moment, give them a hug, and whisper “I love you!” in their ear.

  96. I leave notes on the floor by the kid’s bedroom doors. I leave them before I go to bed at night. When the kiddos wake up in the AM and open their doors they are reminded first thing how much I love them!

  97. i use notes – and emails to send reminders that i am thinking of them! my son likes to “chat” with me while i am at work sometimes and i leave my chat open to receive his messages!

  98. I feel the best time is when you are driving them somewhere… just you and the
    child. They are captive. And they don’t have to look you in the eye (because your eyes are on the road).

  99. I love car rides so we can talk – about our day, our family, our friends, our church, our school, our team, …

  100. Meredith says:

    I think that reading together, snuggled in bed at night, and the conversations about what we are reading, have been some of the most special times with my kids.