The first few weeks of school were a little bumpy for us. The transition from the relaxed, carefree days of summer to the rushed, highly scheduled school days was not an easy one.
Grace, our kindergartner, would erupt into tears at the mere suggestion that she should get dressed. And actually choosing her clothes was another drama altogether (“No, that’s not pretty enough!”). So, by the time breakfast rolled around, emotions were high and patience was thin.
I would present the usual breakfast choices (oatmeal, cereal, eggs, yogurt) — the same selections that were happily accepted all summer long — and would receive only complaints in response. Grace would cry that she wasn’t ready to decide. Or she really wanted oatmeal but couldn’t possibly have oatmeal because her sister had already chosen it and they certainly couldn’t eat the same thing. Or I would suggest the very food that she had loved beyond words the day before, and she would proclaim that she hated it, and absolutely wouldn’t touch it if it were placed in front of her.
And just like that, I’d be unwittingly drawn into a battle over breakfast.
One day, after realizing I could no longer engage in wardrobe meltdowns AND breakfast battles AND pack a nutritious and appealing lunch while still getting the kids to school on time, I had an epiphany. Why should I be a short-order cook every morning, fixing each child exactly what she wants after many minutes of debate (causing them to have to scarf down their breakfast because they used up all of their time crying)?!
So, I made up a weekly breakfast menu. Monday was yogurt and fruit, Tuesday was peanut butter toast and fruit smoothies, and so on. No choices, no discussion, and most importantly — no tears. The selections were based on foods that both girls like in order to ensure maximum consumption and cooperation. This plan worked beautifully for about a week, until their father suggested that they add sliced banana to their oatmeal. So delicious!
Now I’m making oatmeal with banana EVERY SINGLE DAY. But as long as there aren’t any tears, I’m okay with that. Sooner or later, the breakfast battles will begin again, but this time I’ll be armed and ready.
Jen McNally moved to Maine from Colorado four years ago, in search of a simpler, more natural lifestyle. Since then, she has planted her first-ever vegetable garden, raised a flock of six hens, and continues to learn about healthy living. She is a stay-at-home mother of two active girls, ages five and three. In her former life, she studied in Germany for two years, traveled to 6 continents and 31 countries, and was the marketing manager for an adventure travel company. Jen contributes regularly to the Guiding Stars blog.