Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Wow! You're a Big Family" Controlling the Chaos Tidbit #5-Independent Breakfast

With the new baby, it is kind of hard to say what the morning looks like.  D is obviously busy getting himself ready.  I might still be in bed because the baby was up often or I might be needing to feed the baby.  To be honest, my kids kind of need to fend for themselves in the mornings.  In fact, in our first days at home as a family of 6, when I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed about managing all of it, this was probably one of the first things I decided to conquer.  I knew that in order to feel better about things I needed to have a plan for how we would get everyone ready for school and eat breakfast, even if I couldn't attend to everyone.  Our normal routine involved Mom getting up and monitoring the kids while they got ready and did chores and then Mom helping the kids select their breakfasts from the cupboard.  Those things were not going to happen with an itty bitty baby.  I also realized I was going to have to be okay with my kids eating a bit more processed food or prepackaged convenience items.  Here's how my kids are responsible for their own breakfasts, with minimal spilling and arguing:

1.   Each weekday has a specific breakfast menu.  All are things my kids can make themselves and prepare with not too much mess.  They are always located in places that my kids can access.  The big kids do have to help Zeke but that's doable.  Monday is toast or a peanut butter sandwich.  Tuesday and Thursdays, D has to be at school early for enrichment art so they are yogurt days.   (Yogurt is a fast eat.)  I did have Tuesdays as a trailmix day but my kids were either not taking that option or were picking out the good stuff and leaving the nuts.  Wednesday is cereal.  Friday is special treat day.  (That could mean a processed item like granola bars or PopTarts or it could mean something I've made like muffins, quick bread, or coffee cake.)  Not only can my kids be independent but it also has sped up our breakfast time since the kids don't stand at the pantry and hem haw about what to have.
2.  We always have a fruit bowl with kid sized fruit on the counter.  If someone doesn't want the breakfast option for the day, they can instead choose something from the fruit bowl .  This is usually whatever is on sale seasonally.  I try to make sure it's a smaller fruit and easy to eat.  (Not a huge pear or a huge apple.)  Bananas, clementines, and small apples are almost always in the bowl.  I've also bought the pre packaged boxes of dried cranberries and raisins.  I've also considered taking a note from my friend, Heather's, playbook and making string cheese an option but it always feels expensive to buy since if we have it my kids eat it like crazy.  The fruit bowl option also works well for the days when someone has been poky and did not have time to eat breakfast.  It's easy to grab something from the bowl and head out the door.
3.  I initially started our new breakfast routine by pre pouring milk for my kids the night before.  (My big kids can pour milk themselves but if it's a full gallon, then it gets a little tricky plus having it pre poured just sped the breakfast process up.)  I assigned each kid a specific color cup, one that had a lid and could be stored in the fridge overnight.  Then in the morning, they had a glass of milk all ready to go.  I've kind of let this lapse because D was getting out to breakfast and able to help with drinks plus I was forgetting to do it at night.  (And my big kids get two milks at school each day so I don't feel too bad about them not having a milk at breakfast too.)

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