Yesterday I talked about the dinner table; today we are moving on to breakfast! The breakfast table can set the tone for the day- Kind words and nutritious foods can launch a busy day in a very positive way.
When I am running up against a deadline, I get snappish, more impatient and more incredulous about how long it can take a child to find her shoes. The key to a less hurried breakfast, and to having time to connect before everyone goes separate ways, is to get up a little earlier. It takes some of the pressure off the morning and helps ease some of the frustrations.
When I get up a little earlier, there is extra time to make a nutritious breakfast, for a hug, to read a quick story, to say a prayer before breakfast, to ask questions about how each other is feeling about the upcoming day. It also gives us a chance to talk about events coming up. We like to give Ellianna things to look forward to, especially if she has a busy day coming up and she’s feeling a little stressed. “Don’t forget, we are going to see Grandma tonight!” or “Only three more sleeps until the weekend and your play date with a friend!” This usually brightens her day in a hurry.
Preparation and organizing the night before can also make for a calmer time at the breakfast table. Packing lunches, organizing Ellianna’s backpack, packing the diaper bag if I have to run out first thing, packing needed items for the day ahead of time (like soccer gear or dancewear and shoes) and setting them by the door. Even having a clean kitchen to prepare meals quickly and clean laundry put away where it can easily be found helps. I’m trying to get better at this, although this morning was a great example of what not to do to prepare for the next day. My husband Andy, Ellianna and I spent a solid hour looking for Ellianna’s soccer shorts before her game. It made our morning stressful and frantic.
The foods we eat can set the tone for the day too. For me, if I start my day by grabbing something quick and stuffing it in my mouth, it sets a tone of hurriedness and feeds a mentality that I don’t have time to take care of myself. Also, I have to avoid sugary or starchy foods like cereal, bagels or even too much fruit for breakfast, otherwise it causes blood sugar level ups and downs (enter mood swings), and opens the door to an onslaught of never-ending munchies and carb cravings. Talk about giving the day a discouraging start!
Eating a protein-filled breakfast helps keep my blood sugar levels stable and the cravings away. One of my favorite breakfasts is turkey bacon, scrambled eggs and a frozen organic spinach and kale mix from Costco, sautéed in ghee and salted, or a vegetable from the farmer’s market, like okra. For the most part, I do a Whole 30 / Paleo plan (see more on this here. You can also follow me on Instagram @sarahwestbrooksmith, where I share posts about my Whole 30/Paleo journey).
I’ve found that I it’s a non-negotiable for me to take the time to make myself nutritious meals. I don’t like to take time to prepare meals (unlike my husband, who really enjoys cooking. A lot. Which is a good thing!) I want to grab something quick and move on with my day. But I’ve learned that not fueling my energy with whole foods is a shortcut to nowhere because I end up slogging through my days and don’t feel as well.
For those days that are extra hectic, it really helps to have some prepped foods on hand that are quick to grab, like hardboiled eggs and cut-up fruit or steamed sweet potatoes that can be heated in a skillet within 5 minutes. There are also recipes online for paleo (dairy and grain-free) savory “muffins” with ingredients like eggs, sausage and veggies, which can be heated up quickly. If you eat grains, oatmeal can be put in the crockpot the night before. There are also no-sugar instant oatmeal packets which make another quick breakfast (Add raisins, nuts and fruit).
Taking a few minutes to make a meal doesn’t usually take as long as I think it does. The other day, I needed lunch and thought of making a salad. My first impulse was to think “I don’t have time for that.” The truth was, I just didn’t want to mess with it. So I decided to try something. I timed myself while I made the salad, and do you know how long it took? Ten minutes! Do you know how many times I’ve frittered away ten minutes on social media? On looking at articles online? Or looking at my text messages? Ummm……
It really is a matter of priorities. I DO have time to make myself a healthy breakfast. I can’t afford not to take care of myself. As the wife and mama of the house, I have a lot of power to influence the family’s mood and tone. That means taking care of my body and my health (and inevitably my moods) are essential.
An added bonus I’ve found is that if I’m taking the time to make a healthier meal choice, my whole family benefits. My family is not on a Paleo diet, but if I’m making eggs or turkey bacon or another Paleo recipe for myself, I offer to make extra for the rest of my family, and they are usually willing participants. When I’m on a healthy plan, I’m not as likely to bring home chips and sweets, for the temptation of us all. There are more healthy options in our kitchen, readily available.
Morning and evening routines are very helpful to making more peaceful mornings and better breakfasts. I am not in a spot where I have consistent morning and evening routines that I’m happy with (I still stay up too late, and I’d like to be up before the kids more consistently), so I won’t share any speculative comments about what my routines should be. Instead, I’ll share some podcasts I’ve been loving and finding helpful on the subject:
The Simple Show – Episode 42 “Routines, Golden Hours, & Maker’s Schedules http://theartofsimple.net/thepodcast/
Sorta Awesome Episode 71 “Finding our Rhythms with the Awesome of Routines” http://www.sortaawesomeshow.com/shownotes/2016/9/9/ep-71-finding-our-rhythms-with-the-awesome-of-routines
“Happier with Gretchen Rubin” – I’m not calling out a specific episode – all the shows are full of fun interesting tips for building better habits and rhythms – I’m a huge fan: http://gretchenrubin.com/podcast/
Even with the best planning, some morning are just going to be hectic – it’s a fact of life. But if I can make have more peaceful mornings than not, it would make life a little nicer (and home a little more of that haven) for my family.
What are your favorite tips for having a peaceful morning and a better breakfast? I’ll bet you have several of your own to share! (Plus some fun, I-can-laugh-about-it-now crazy morning stories!)