This collection of tips is sponsored by Cheerios and The Family Breakfast Project.
Hurry up! We're going to be late. Come ON!
Does this sound familiar? I often find myself yelling these phrases at my girls as we fly out the door in the morning — rush, rush, rushing to school. Sadly, this often leads to yelling, arguments (and then a dose of heavy parenting guilt for me) as we pull out of the driveway. What a crummy way to start the day...
Are you ready for a change? Me, too!
Below are five easy ways to slow down and connect with your kids in the morning.
The morning rituals we create with our kids TODAY will become ingrained habits as they grow older. Teaching your kids to start their day off healthy and on a positive note will offer them benefits for a LIFETIME. (Plus, hopefully, it will be a gateway for you to continue to connect with your kids each morning as they hit the tween years.)
Now, here's the kicker... it all starts with US today.
Let's get started...
GET UP & GET GOING
Here's the hardest part of this whole crazy-simple Family Breakfast Project: You've got to get up 15 minutes earlier. "Ha," you say. "That's it?" Trust me... It's more challenging than it seems. That being said, I found that it got easier and easier each day because the girls were so excited about our morning time together. If you can make this tiny 15-minute commitment each day, I promise you'll be SHOCKED by what a difference that small chunk of time can make.
GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS
I don't know about you, but my mind is a bit foggy at 5:55 a.m. No matter how good my intentions are the night before, trying to THINK in the morning is a challenge for me. Rather than trying to "wing" this change on your own, follow this awesome 7-day guide from my friends at The Family Breakfast Project.
This breakfast-time adventure is about YOUR FAMILY and this morning guide is simply a handy tool that Cheerios has provided to help get you kick-started. Remember: This is not a challenge that you can fail. Don't get discouraged if you miss a day or don't do all the activities listed for a particular morning. This is just a GUIDE to help and encourage you, not to make you feel guilty!
GET A GRIP ON THE TV
[groan] I know the kids love watching cartoons in the morning. I hear you. The television can be a wonderful educational opportunity AND a perfect morning distraction. I allow my girls to watch TV while I shower and get ready for the day. However, they are only allowed to watch AFTER they've gotten dressed and have their school backpacks ready. Once I'm out of the shower and we're starting our morning activity, the TV goes off. I don't care how cool the activity you have in mind is... if the TV is on in the background, your little ones WILL be distracted.
Now, let's have some fun...
1. SET UP A PICNIC
Yep. It's that easy. Throw out a colorful blanket to eat on, and you're basically the coolest mom ever. When the weather is chilly, we picnic in the LIVING ROOM. The revised scenery makes this simple change in our morning routine feel like an adventure.
Quick tip for young kids: Consider using a plastic-lined tablecloth for easy clean-up and as "spilled-milk insurance" for your carpet!
If you've got a beautiful morning on your hands, take breakfast outside. Our family eats dinner on the patio all the time, but NEVER breakfast. Why? We just don't think to do it. Eating breakfast outside has been a lovely variation for our family.
Having a breakfast picnic outside often leads to other simple pleasures like...
making dandelion bouquets to decorate the table, tree hugging, and tending to our fairy garden.
2. ALLOW THE KIDS TO TAKE PRIDE IN THEIR EVERYDAY TASKS
Now, getting up 15 minutes earlier for The Family Breakfast Project doesn't have to mean more work for Mom. Portions of the morning guide (PDF) are geared toward fostering independence in children. I still remember when my girls started at a Montessori school as toddlers how amazed I was by their ability to be self-sufficient. The key is allowing them the opportunity to be independent.
You can find the following tools in this guide:
- A printable kids' Clothing Checklist
- Tips on how to create an Out-the-Door Bin
- Suggestions for designing a Kid-Friendly Breakfast Drawer of healthy snacks in the fridge or cabinet
3. STEP OUTSIDE OF THE NORM
Shake things up a bit... Introduce a new fruit or try a new recipe. Our family got funky in the kitchen and tried this recipe for No-Bake Energy Bites that I found on Pinterest. You should have seen the girls' faces when I read off the ingredients:
1 cup (dry) oatmeal
⅔ cup toasted coconut flakes
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup ground flaxseed
½ cup chocolate chips
⅓ cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
My ladies passionately despise coconut. Yet, they were willing to try these No-Bake Energy Bites because of the chocolate chips. Well, that and I told them that they were "Breakfast Cookies."
The recipe is DELICIOUS. This then inspired us to try RAW coconut. That ended up being a CRAZY outside experiment!
4. GO ON AN EARLY-MORNING ADVENTURE
Plan a little extra time to get yourselves out of the house. The sky is literally the limit. Pack a simple snack and then hit the road. One morning, the girls and I stopped and ate at a local park on the way to school. The girls had a blast simply SPINNING IN CIRCLES barefoot in the grass.
Sometimes we enjoy a lazy weekend breakfast at the coffee shop. We make this a LONG breakfast (rather than the normal 15 mintues) and bring games, books, pens, and notepads.
It's a great excuse to get up and moving together on the weekend. (It's also an opportunity for you and the kids to RELAX and UNWIND together.)
5. LET THEM CONTRIBUTE IDEAS
When your child asks, "What if we [idea]?" Try to say, "YES." Let them contribute and take ownership of their morning rituals, too. Sometimes it will be a crazy idea like: "...have an outdoor picnic with the cat" on a chilly, breezy fifty-degree morning. Uh... yeah, the umbrella is there to block the cold wind blowing on their backs. Not exactly MY cup of tea, but do you see the smiles on THEIR faces?!?
Other times, they might suggest truly sweet ideas like: "...have an impromptu reading picnic with breakfast."
or "...take a morning bike ride."
I love this sentiment:
Unlike dinners, which can be periods of reflection, breakfast typically starts the day on an optimistic note — making it the ideal time for families to start their day together.
[Read More: Why breakfast?]
Personally, THIS — starting the day on an optimistic note — was the greatest benefit of changing our morning routine. Because we were getting all the MUST-DO items out of the way first, when it was actually time to leave the house for school, we were all HAPPY.
For me, The Family Breakfast Project meant:
no more YELLING, RUSHING, or PARENT GUILT.
I was honestly shocked by how just 15 minutes of dedicated family time could so dramatically improve our mornings.
As we continue on with this new daily ritual for our family, we still occasionally refer back to Cheerios' morning guide for inspiration. I'm so glad we had this tool to help kick-start this long-term (and much-appreciated) change in our family's morning drill.
Tell me a bit about your family's morning routine. I'm always looking for new ideas, and I bet there are some great ones out there we could all benefit from. Let's chat in the comments.
P.S. A special THANKS to Cheerios for offering this guide and for continuing to be a part of our everyday family life. We're lifetime fans...
Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Click here to read our full disclosure.
Share on Facebook: