Breakfast used to be my husband’s domain. I don’t like getting up any earlier than I absolutely have to and he enjoys spending time in the morning with the kids, so we settled on this arrangement years ago. But then last fall the school year started and my twins went off to kindergarten, and everything fell apart.
Well, that’s a bit melodramatic. Really what happened is that the school year started and my twins went off to kindergarten and everything fell apart… at 4:00 p.m. each day.
That’s when my twins step off the bus. My youngest wants to play with his siblings who’ve been gone all day. My daughter wants to find a friend to play with because her social bucket apparently needs to be filled, even though she’s just been at school for the past seven hours. Her twin brother needs to go sit in a room with some LEGOs by himself because he’s just been at school for the past seven hours. I want to go through backpacks full of lunch boxes and paperwork and “Mommy look at this!” – all while I also need to start thinking about dinner. Oh, and I am also simultaneously handling three kids clamoring for five different snacks at the same time.
It’s kind of the worst.
Within two weeks of the start of school, I asked my husband to re-arrange his work schedule.
“Is there any way you can start at 7 so you can end at 4?” I asked him one desperate evening. He works from home as a software developer; I knew it was in the realm of possibility. “I can’t be everything to everyone.”
He could. And he did.
But with him now starting at 7:00 a.m. – a full hour earlier – breakfast is now firmly in my domain. I started rising earlier to tackle this task. Instead of using that time to get ready for the day while my husband controls the breakfast chaos downstairs, I wake up earlier to throw myself together so I can take control of it all myself.
I grew up eating toast and cereal and Pop-Tarts and Eggos for breakfast. It was the 90s and this sufficed. Also, my mom isn’t a morning person. I think anything that took 3.42 seconds to unwrap and pop in the toaster was exactly in her weekday morning wheelhouse.
My kids wouldn’t know a Pop-Tart or an Eggo if one popped up in our toaster – those pantry staples from my youth haven’t made it to my own house. But Honey Nut Cheerios and Life cereal are on a regular rotation. Cooking is not my husband’s forte, so cereal became an easy go-to in the morning.
I followed suit after I became the President of Breakfast. Once upon a time, I thought I would be the kind of mom who flipped pancakes and sausages before school and make egg scrambles to fill their bellies with protein. I didn’t factor in the whole I’m-not-a-morning-person part.
It’s worth it, though, to have Tyson around in the evenings. His 4:00 p.m. end time has made all the difference in our days. And it’s become that much easier to get a healthy(ish) dinner on the table in the evening before activities or the general pre-bedtime commotion.
Caden likes to eat toast with only butter. Brooklyn often asks for granola with yogurt and strawberries and cinnamon. Nolan asks for an egg and toast with avocado (he’s my foodie). Sometimes, I honor his request and make toast and fry eggs – “with a yolk” Nolan likes to say, by which he means sunny-side-up – which is about as adventurous as I get in the morning. The rest of the time? It’s fruit and cereal (or toast or granola) for all. I can only do so much before 8 o’clock in the morning.
So in the morning, I pour bowls of cereal, slice strawberries, and peel bananas. I’m not much of a breakfast person myself. They eat while I sip coffee and pack lunches and try to adjust my eyes to the light. I’m only marginally more of a morning person than my own mother. I’ve realized now that I’ll never be much of a morning or a breakfast person. (At least not at breakfast time. I could write a whole separate essay on the glories of brunch.) Really though, it makes pancakes and French toast on the weekends all the more special.
I think there are plenty of us out there, those of us who just aren’t quite ready for it all (“all” being the children and the brightness and the getting ready and the noise – why are they so loud?) in the morning. I’ve seen my friend’s pantries with their own Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Krispies, seen the Eggo boxes and the Uncrustables in the freezer. Solidarity, my friend, I think in my head.
There are give-and-takes as a parent each and every day. Breakfast is one of mine. They could have egg scrambles if I just planned ahead a bit more – I see articles to this effect often. I’m sure they could, I answer in my head. I think there are a lot of us out there who make choices – some we didn’t think we’d make as parents – and then shrug and go on with our days because there are bigger battles to fight. Also, we’re tired. If Honey Nut Cheerios make our mornings run smoother and help me from going completely insane, well, then I’ll raise my coffee cup to that.