How to Stop Losing the Family Breakfast Battle

How To Stop Losing The Family Breakfast Battle

How to stop losing the family breakfast battle? It’s not that I don’t love my children or enjoy spending time with them. I do. It’s just that there seem to be so many things to accomplish each day, and by the time everyone is awake, dressed, fed, and off to school or work, I’m left wondering where in the world all the time went.

I’m not alone in feeling like I don’t have enough time to get my children out the door and off to school each morning. It seems that so many parents are having trouble getting their kids off to school on time. This is, in part, a growing problem among families across the country as more and more working mothers encounter obstacles when trying to balance the demands of work and home life.

Questions

I’m not a working mother, but my mornings rarely go as I had initially planned, either because soccer practice ran late or one of the kids didn’t feel well. It seems like there is always something that slows things down and makes me late for work. But at some point, I have to face reality: I can’t control everything, so why do I put pressure on myself to keep up with everyone else?

Not every parent has time to make homemade waffles or oatmeal or even order out for breakfast in the morning. Still, we can all find time to sit down together for an enjoyable breakfast before sending our children off into the world each day. Here are some ideas for keeping the breakfast routine going:

1. Post a Schedule

I make sure to post my children’s daily programs in their rooms and on our refrigerator so everyone knows what is happening at all times. I’ve also found that it helps to discuss these routines ahead of time, reminding them that breakfast will be ready when we get up in the morning.

2. Plan Ahead

The best way for me to get out the door on time is to plan as much as possible. We do take-out on most weekdays because it’s convenient and fast, but if you can’t afford or don’t have the time to eat out each day, work out a meal plan with your child beforehand. This avoids making a quick decision in the morning and gives everyone time to make their breakfast preferences. By purchasing food items ahead of time, you can also add preparation steps that will help cut down on the chaos in the morning.

3. Make It Unique

 Eating breakfast together can be more than just functional; you can find ways to build anticipation for this mealtime and use it as an opportunity to bond with your kids. On weekends or holidays, serve waffles topped with whipped cream or oatmeal flavored with cinnamon or chocolate chips. I love using my slow cooker on mornings when I know we’ll have a busy day ahead: pop in some frozen potatoes, carrots, onions, and seasoning before leaving for work–all I need to do is toss them in the slow cooker with water and set it on high. By the time we get home, it’s dinner time, and there’s nothing left for me to do but wait until everyone is seated for our meal.

4. Keep Them Going

Dads can cook too! I know that my husband prefers a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and toast while I tend to go light, trying to leave room for my morning cup of coffee (and don’t tell anyone this, but occasionally some chocolate). The point is: don’t feel like you have to keep preparing different foods every day just because you’re looking out for your kids’ nutrition–they’ll be fine as long as they eat the same thing each morning (for example, sausage links, pancakes, and fruit for breakfast. If your child likes these foods, you might as well stick with them).

Teaching kids

5. Set Your Priorities

I’m not perfect, and on the days when my cup overfloweth, it’s easy to forget that even though my motherly instincts scream at me to get everyone fed right away, other things are more important than food. Parents need to set their priorities straight: first comes getting the kids out the door; second comes making sure they have something in their stomachs. And if you’re running late, send them off with a sack lunch or skip eating altogether: no one said we should be able to do everything perfectly all the time!

I’ve come to realize my daughter likes to put on make-up as soon as she gets up each morning (sometimes earlier)…so apparently, breakfast time is an excellent time to let her put on make-up and not worry about eating right away.

6. Don’t Take It Personally

If you’ve worked hard at getting everyone out of the door each day, only to find that breakfast is being skipped (or worse yet, eaten in the car), don’t panic: your kids will be OK–they’ve probably done this before, and they’ll do it again. Just relax: try putting some music on while you eat or read the paper…you have 10 minutes before your morning gets hectic.

7. Be Flexible

When life happens, remember that flexibility is your best friend. One of my favorite quotes comes from Nelson Mandela, who said, “adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” I love this because it’s important to remember that we’re all individuals, and the things that work for other parents may not be suitable for you. And if your morning starts crazy one day…don’t worry about spending five (or 10 or 20!) minutes eating with your kids–enjoy the time together.

8. Be Creative

Please don’t get discouraged: even though I’ve got my routine down pretty well now, there were times when I wanted to give up on having breakfast together as a family. But I’m glad we didn’t give up because we’ve found some great ways to make things work for us. We call our first breakfasts “cereal bar” mornings. I lay out cereal bars and milk for us to eat on our way out the door. It’s a great way to get my kids started on breakfast while getting them off to school on time.

9. Use Bribery

When all else fails, try bribery! You might be surprised how well it works–remember to do it responsibly, or you could end up ten pounds heavier because your child is always asking for candy! The point is: if going without food helps, make sure they have something in their stomachs before sending them off into the wilderness (a chocolate chip cookie at home may be a better bet). And whenever possible, try giving them options–maybe some yogurt and granola would taste great right now…or maybe they’re just in the mood for some fruit.

10. Get Help

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still having trouble getting the kids to eat breakfast…make sure they get a good meal at school! This way, there’s always something available if your child isn’t hungry when he gets home–and trust me, it will be much easier to deal with a “snack attack” than trying to explain why there’s nothing to eat in the house. We have one breakfast item (a banana) in the fridge for emergencies, which usually does the trick!

But more importantly, as parents, we need to remember that even though this is a chore that sometimes takes longer than expected or goes awry from time to time: it’s still a chance to spend some time with our children in the morning. It’s my job to teach my kids how important they are, and that means teaching them to take their health (and our family’s health) seriously. If we can remember to keep our expectations in check and give this “little thing” the importance it deserves, we’ll be better off.

By Rosa Norris

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