We began another "homeschool year" last week. No more easy days of just a little Math and Reading for fun: it's back to all the usual subjects and being disciplined enough to work a little more and play a little less. Especially for me! I have no idea how the house is going to stay cleaned or organized, but school gets first priority right now, as it must. :)
As I was contemplating my plans and ideas for the academic year ahead, breakfast was on my mind. I've been making hot breakfasts all summer, and I didn't want to give that up.
For one thing, it's a lot cheaper to make oatmeal or even the occasional meal of eggs and toast than to have cold cereal or (even homemade) granola bars. I also feel it's healthier, and I want the kids to have a good start to their day. If I'm going to expect them to sit still and read or write or study, I need to feed them food that will help them be at their best!
Plus, I'm crazy about my own breakfast of either oatmeal with add-ins or my salmon-and-eggs. If I wouldn't want to tackle a morning on cold cereal, then I can't feel right about asking my kids to.
My kitchen on school nights, ready for the following morning
To help streamline my life, I came up with a breakfast menu plan to repeat for the foreseeable future:
Monday - Friday: Oatmeal with add-ins for the kids; salmon and eggs and coffee/tea for myself
Saturday: Wheat berry pancakes, scrambled eggs, and turkey bacon
Sunday: Omelets and toast
I have bananas on hand most of the time, and kids can have them before breakfast ot for a mid-morning snack. Lunches and dinners include fruits and vegetables as well.
In order to start the day out well, I have to ALWAYS clean up the kitchen before bed. Some time around having 3-4 kids, I stopped cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and spent a year or two cleaning up the kitchen every morning. It wasn't the end of the world, but it sure didn't make me feel like I was on top of things and I found myself trying to avoid the kitchen instead of gladly heading there upon waking!
Here's how I prep my kitchen for the following day in order to get a good start:
I get out the pan(s) needed for breakfast. I use a small skillet for my salmon and eggs, and a pan for the oatmeal. I put the water in for the oatmeal, and set out the salt, spoons, hot pads, etc.
I don't have anything fancy for coffee (e.g. timed or near-instant) but I do love a couple cups of coffee and some tea in the morning. I use an AeroPress to make some really great coffee, and I get it ready with the coffee grounds in the filter and water in the tea kettle on the stove. I put a tea bag in my tea cup, too.
In the morning, I turn on the stove burners first thing. While the water is heating up and my skillet is preheating, I put away some clean dishes from the counter. I usually close the dishwasher and have one of the kids help unload it later in the day.
This was today's dishes. Some days there are fewer pans to wash, thankfully. :)
While I'm making breakfast, which takes about 15 minutes, I supervise the kids at the table doing a writing assignment or another subject if they prefer. On the days that I have them write in their journals, they have to do that until breakfast is ready.
I have everyone's books already out on the table. Since we don't do every subject every day, and everyone's books are on one bookshelf, it can get confusing. So, I look at my list/plan and pull out what's needed.
Here's our kindergartener Ruth (5), who wanted her picture taken with her bowl of oatmeal. She had helped me that morning by sprinkling some flaked coconut and chocolate chips on top of everyone's bowls of oatmeal. :)
Everyone clears their own dishes when they're finished eating, washes their spot at the table, and gets back to their school work. I do the day's dishes in the afternoon/evening.
So really, the only difference between how we're doing breakfast now and how we did it all summer is that I'm getting things ready the night before, and we're starting earlier in the morning (~6am instead of ~8am). Oh, and I'd be glad to start later but the kids all get up early! So, we start early. :)
I hope this has given you a few ideas for your mornings, or maybe just some inspiration to take a look at what you currently do and find small ways to make it more efficient! :)
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