For those days when your kids don’t have time to sit down and eat, Lemond suggests grabbing something like blueberries and Greek yogurt or making a fruit smoothie for them to scarf down on the way to school.
Timing matters. Lemond said mornings go more smoothly in her house when she is showered and finished getting ready for work before her children, ages 9 and 6, get up for breakfast.
Storch, however, sets an alarm clock for her two older children to wake up about half an hour before she does. That gives them time to play or just relax, and puts them in a better mood when they come to the table. The family starts preparing breakfast around 7:30.
Storch has a large clock in the kitchen so Noah, 7, and Ezra, 4, will know how much time they have to finish eating. Noah has to be done and ready for the bus by 8:15; Ezra knows he leaves for preschool at 8:30. These little tweaks to their routine have helped transform what had been a stressful time for the family.
“We were always scrambling; we were always late,” said Storch, who writes the blog Amalah. “I was trying to do too much.”
Plan ahead. Hard-cook a dozen eggs over the weekend and have them ready to peel and go during the week, Lemond suggested. Oatmeal, which you can toss in the crockpot and cook overnight, also can be reheated quickly with a little milk later in the week, she added.
“My husband gets up super early, so I’m pretty much single parenting in the mornings,” Lemond said. “I try to do a lot of things the night before.”
Storch makes an extra-large batch of whole wheat pancakes (see recipe on page XX) on the weekends, then freezes them and reheats them in the toaster during the week.
Planning, whether it’s preparing enough oatmeal on a Sunday night to last for a few days or cutting up fruit in the evening to serve with yogurt the next morning, can make the mornings easier, Kass said.
“Parents are busy; mornings are always hectic,” Kass said. “Making breakfast part of the routine is an important place to begin. Breakfast can be really simple and quick, as long as it happens.”
Set a menu. About three years ago, Maag developed a weekly menu: muffins on Monday, French toast on Tuesday, waffles on Wednesday, cinnamon rolls on Thursday and pancakes on Friday.
She and her son used to argue over breakfast choices, and “I felt like it wasn’t a good use of time,” she said. “I work outside the home and the morning is busy for us, so I needed to do something to make it easier. I couldn’t even quantify [the difference it’s made]. We have zero conversations about what’s for breakfast.”
Having a routine has also helped her two children develop a rhythm and track time, Maag said. Her son, who is 7, knows that if he is having French toast that morning, for example, he has soccer practice that afternoon.
Eat breakfast yourself. Many parents skip breakfast, thinking they don’t have time or it will help them manage their weight, Lemond said. By eating breakfast, though, you are less likely to overeat later in the day and more likely to make healthful choices, she said.
“Breakfast sometimes gets shut out when we’re busy or we want to sleep later,” Lemond said. “Take 15 minutes out of your morning to get that vital nutrition in. Breakfast is the meal that [provides] a lot of the fiber and fruit that we need.”
Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and co-author of “Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters From High Chair to High School,” said making breakfast is less of a chore for parents if they are eating with their children.
“A lot of adults fly through that meal,” Castle said. “It becomes harder. If you were making dinner for everyone else and not eating, it would be a hard job.”
Assign jobs. Storch’s two older boys have breakfast-related chores: Noah gets out the dry cereal, and Ezra serves the fruit. That frees her up to make one custom food for each child, whether it’s scrambled eggs or a smoothie.
Lemond also gives her children food-preparation chores, such as mixing, pouring or using a chopping tool to cut ingredients. Her daughter Hannah, 9, is allowed to cook bacon on the stove. Things go more smoothly when the kids help, Lemond said, and it teaches them to be self-sufficient. Parents might be inclined to do everything themselves because they can do it more quickly, but kids need to learn to plan and make meals.
“Being a parent is about training our children to be able to do things on their own also. That includes empowering them to make their own breakfast,” Lemond said. “Then, as they get older, they will be more inclined to pick healthy foods on their own.”
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