5 Steps to a Peaceful Breakfast With Your Children*
Many moons ago, I wrote a post about our breakfast woes and shared a solution that had worked for us. It worked so well…until we started a major construction project. While we were living in a construction zone, we were unable to follow this plan and the mealtime behavior gradually came back.
Last week, I found myself standing in my kitchen, holding a lukewarm cup of coffee, listening to bickering, and repeatedly asking my partially-dressed youngest, “What do you want for breakfast?!” At that moment, it occurred to my not-yet-caffeinated mind that history was repeating itself in our home. I reinstated our breakfast plan the next morning and everything has been going much more smoothly around here. I’m actually drinking my coffee while it’s hot, folks! I thought others might benefit from our breakfast plan, too, and so today I’m sharing
I reinstated our breakfast plan the following morning and everything has been more peaceful around here. I’m actually drinking my coffee while it’s hot! Today I’m sharing 5 Steps to a Peaceful Breakfast With Your Children in the hope that it may help other mamas out there enjoy a hot cup of coffee.
1. Put all that hard-to-open and easy-to-spill cereal into plastic containers.
Do you know how children tend to tear into a box of cereal, violently open the bag contained therein and then leave bits of cereal everywhere in their wake? Well, let me tell you- putting the cereal in a plastic container has made life easier over here. I am a big fan of these Rubbermaid cereal containers. They are able to hold the big bags of cereal that we get from Costco, they are lightweight, and the flip tops are easy to open so little hands have no trouble.
2. Find two small pitchers and fill one with milk and one with juice.
I am in love with these two little glass jugs that I found on Amazon, and holy smokes you guys are too! I posted a photo of our breakfast set-up on Instagram the other day and got oodles of inquiries about the jugs. Guess what, you guys? They’re on Amazon and they are cheap! Win-win! We’ve been using them for well over a year and they are still going strong!
3. Make your life easier by investing in some hard-to-break bowls and glassware for your children.
Two years ago, I got fed up with reading about how toxic plastics can be and so I purged our house of all plastic bowls, plates, cups, and utensils.
But, soon afterward, I got tired of finding little chips on all of our bowls and plates. Ultimately, we purchased some Corelle bowls and dishes from Walmart. These things are almost indestructible, folks! We’ve only lost one bowl since purchasing them and that one involved a child running on a wet floor at high speed (any guesses as to who that was??).
We have been using Mason Jars for glasses for a couple of years now. Like the Corelle bowls, we have only lost one. A few weeks ago, one child (the same child who smashed the bowl) shouted, “I have an AMAZING IDEA!!,” jumped in the air, and threw his mason jar full of water into the air. And yes, that actually happened.
4. Make sure all of the above are accessible to your children.
We store the kids’ dishes and cups in a bottom cabinet and the cereal containers are in our pantry at a child-level. I’m always up before my children in the morning and so I will fill pitchers and leave them on the island, but if your children are up before you are, you could place them within easy reach in your refrigerator. When you make these items accessible to your children, they are able to get breakfast independently! This frees up some time so you can enjoy your coffee while it is still hot. And do you know what? You’re teaching your children valuable life skills in the process!
5. Add music or a good read aloud.
If your children tend to bicker in the morning, you might need a little extra help to maintain peace. In our home, squabbles can be reduced with music or a good book.
I am obsessed with the Bose Soundlink that Schizz purchased when we updated our kitchen. It is small, so you can easily take it to other rooms in your house or outdoors as needed and it sounds as if Kenny himself is there in my kitchen, folks! (Don’t I wish!!)
Currently, we are reading Anne of Green Gables. I have loved this book since I was a child and I have been not-patiently-waiting to be able to read it with my trio. I’m always amazed by how a good read aloud can calm even the most chaotic of moments. As soon as my little poppies see me with Anne in hand, they settle!
*Bonus points if you:
Take the meal outside on the patio for less mess!
When we got married, we received a serving tray like this one. When the weather is nice, I’ll have the kids load the tray up with their breakfast stuff and I’ll carry it outside to the patio. In my opinion, food tastes better outside and I love that the birds are on clean-up duty!
Involve your children in clean-up after meals.
In my experience, children make less mess when they know they are on clean-up duty following meals. In our family, each child is expected to toss any waste in the compost and put dishes in the dishwasher following each meal. Then, we alternate clean-up duties: one child is “the broomer” (I will be so sad when they start saying sweep), one child wipes down the counter top, and one child wipes down the chairs.
Have a kindness incentive in place to improve cooperation.
I love when something we try works, and our Family Kindness Project has been a wonderful addition to our family life this summer. It has helped my children to view each other as teammates rather than competitors, and everyone is acting a whole lot nicer over here lately!
Now, it’s your turn. Do you struggle to keep the peace at meal times? What has helped your family? Share here!
If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool and GeekMom. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Scary Mommy. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram