Breakfast is Scheduled: Simplify Your Family's Morning RoutineApr 20, 2023
Today I have a tip to share with mothers, fathers, caregivers, etc., that came about from using basic problem-solving skills (see Love, Balance, & Problem Solving), which are a core component of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Have your mornings with your munchkin(s) ever seemed rushed? My husband leaves for work around 6:30 am, which coincides with four munchkins waking up hungry, needing to get dressed, brush their teeth and hair, put on sunscreen (since we are so fortunate to live in sunny Santa Barbara, CA), pack up their lunches for school and all the while just wanting to play with (or harass) their siblings – not to mention that I should at least get myself dressed and brush my teeth before leaving the house. We need to leave the house by 8:15 am to make it to the first school drop-off, which is enough time to do all this, except when it’s not – when there’s a huge diaper blow-out, a sick child, when the kids or I wake up in a particularly grumpy mood, when we can’t find a library book that’s due that day, etc. So, we are often hurrying out the door.
In trying to simplify my morning routine, I devised an easy organizational strategy that has been incredibly helpful. Imagine that four kids are asking you to make four different breakfasts in a small kitchen. Sounds a bit chaotic, right? It hit me one day that I should have a set meal plan, so I thought up five breakfasts for Monday through Friday, each of which included fruit and protein, and told the kids about the new plan. This strategy aligns with my Consistency focus (see The 5 C's to Amazing Parenting). Check out the meal plan:
Monday: Muffins (a real treat to get everyone excited about Mondays), chopped fruit, and a glass of milk
Tuesday: Cereal (super easy because on Tuesday, I do all of my laundry for the week and need every second in the morning to get the second load in before we head out for the morning), chopped fruit, and milk either in the cereal or in a glass
Wednesday: Bagel with cream cheese and either fruit on the side or orange juice since the bagel and cream cheese have the protein covered
Thursday: Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts – option of juice if they have nuts for protein, otherwise milk
Friday: Primeval bars (which are these yummy bar-shaped baked good that resembles a cinnamon-raisin bagel made by Trader Joe’s) with jam, honey, or peanut butter on top, chopped fruit, and milk on the side
This may be markedly healthier or less healthy than you’re used to, and your munchkins might love or despise these items; the menu can be adjusted to meet your family’s needs, but the routine is the real triumph. Such a simple strategy made mornings so much easier. After a short period, the kids were into the routine and asked, “What day is it? So what do we eat today?” They can consult the menu that's printed out and posted on our refrigerator.
By the way, as the kids get older, I let them choose a different meal than the daily special if they can make it themselves. For example, my 8-year-old and 6-year-old love oatmeal, so last year, they learned how to microwave it themselves, and some weeks, they have that on several mornings with the fruit I have prepared. Similarly, my 3-year-old just learned how to prepare his primeval bars.
In a future post, I will walk through the problem-solving steps I use to navigate tricky parenting situations. This week, consider whether you have any tricky situations in your family’s day-to-day activities that could use a little problem solving. If you find your morning routine could use an adjustment, try developing a breakfast schedule to simplify your parenting experience.
Using routines to simplify your family’s daily activities falls under the Consistency category in my 5 C’s parenting framework (see The 5 C’s to Amazing Parenting). To view more posts in this category, use the category search menu on the right of your screen. Keep up the good work on your amazing parenting journey!
P.S. For more food-related tips, check out the useful advice presented in my free download, How to Make Dining Out With Your Children Enjoyable!
If you’re looking for some inspiration on easy-to-carry toys to keep your young ones entertained while you’re waiting for your meal to arrive, check out my Treasures - Dining Out page. I have a whole category of products to help make your restaurant experience more enjoyable.