Having Lunch and Eating it Too: Making the Most of Lunch Hour

One of the most challenging things about being an office mom is fitting it all in. I can spend entire weekends running errands if I don’t knock some of them out during the week. But after I pick up my tired out and (usually) hungry kids from school, running errands is the last thing I want to impose on all of us, especially since Spencer’s bedtime right now is a hard 6 p.m., unless we want to listen to him fuss himself into an over-exhausted state before going down.

Enter lunch hour.

LunchOne of the nice things about working is that usually for lunch I can manage some time for “myself.” I can catch up with a friend over soup and salad or knock out a meeting for whatever volunteer organization I’m involved in at the moment. When I was the president of the Junior League of Jacksonville I tried really hard to meet with other volunteers over lunch so that I could focus on my children when I got home from work. Some of my working mama friends have gotten take out and eaten it while getting a pedicure (scheduled the week before so they didn’t have to wait at the nail salon).

Lunch time is also great for errands. If I spend ten minutes driving back to my area of town, I can hit the dry cleaners, buy stamps and return a package, get cash for the babysitter, buy dog food and grab a fast food lunch within a good hour (as long as the lines aren’t long).  I also have a dry cleaners near my office, which makes the pickup and drop off of a bag of clothes much easier because I don’t have kids with me.

Alternatively, if we need dinner items, there’s a Publix a quick five minutes from my office. I can grab lunch and dinner and keep the cold things in our office fridge until it’s time to go home. (I also keep my keys in the office fridge so I don’t forget my dinner! Sometimes that means I spend ten minutes forgetting where I put my keys when I get ready to go home, but at least I remember the food!)

I’ve found that because grocery shopping and planning is such a huge chunk of time out of my weekend – time I’d rather spend with my kids – that getting dinner items at lunch is often a good solution. Plus it saves us money and keeps us from wasting food. Sometimes work events or an evening with friends come up unexpectedly and we aren’t home to eat, so planning and buying seven dinners is never a good move for me.

I’ve also found that lunch break is good for picking up chocolate from Peterbrooke for my kids’ teachers for a holiday gift, picking out a birthday present from Green Alligator while my kids aren’t with me, or greeting card shopping at Publix for any number of holidays. I like to use lunch to run all of those errands that take five minutes when you’re by yourself, but twenty minutes when you’re getting two kids in and out of car seats.

The best lunch hour is of course the one I spend with a friend. Sometimes those lunches are the only time I get to see a grown up friend all week. It is so great to have an adult conversation and finish a meal without worrying about a meltdown or plying a child with puffs the whole time. I have two friends I have had a standing lunch date with for years that started when we were all at CSX together. The lunches continued even when I was staying home with my daughter, and even now that one of them is staying home after welcoming her third child. Nothing gets in the way of our Biscotti’s chicken salad! I need those lunch dates for me.

How do you spend your lunch hour?

Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.


  1. Great suggestions. I’m a stay at home mom with a part-time at-home business so I have Tuesdays and Thursdays scheduled for errands and catching up on things. However, I have a suggestion for you. If you have a smart phone, use the calendar notifications to remind yourself about the groceries in the work fridge. Schedule an event on your calendar for the time you leave saying something like “groceries in fridge” and make sure to set the alert for that event. That way, when it’s time go so, you will get the alert and remember right away instead of occasionally spending 10 minutes looking for your keys. 🙂

  2. At least once a week (sometimes 2X if my schedule permits), I bring a magazine with me to work and head over to starbucks for “lunch.” It’s my me time, with my favorite coffee and some non-parenting, non-educational reading (think People, Glamour, etc). I crave the time to chill out, no think about work or family obligations and just indulge. May have to try the lunch/pedi idea too, love that!


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