Our Morning Time takes place around our dining room table every morning. We have tea and breakfast together. We feed our bodies, hearts, minds and souls. We do this every day. Kids still squabble, there are still grumpy morning vibes (mostly from me) there are still messes and disappointments. Good or bad it all happens around our table where we gather for breakfast and morning time, every single day.
If someone had showed me a picture of our current morning time back in oh, circa 2011ish, I would have probably wept and asked, “What? How? When? HOW?!?!?!” Back then all the kids were teeny tiny and absolutely everywhere all at once. Back then I was the only person not wearing diapers. Back then I’d take 10 minutes to scramble eggs so my kids could throw it all on the floor and scream for cereal. Back then I was very much in survival mode thanks to my roaring case of PTSD. Back then the only consistent habit I had was exhaustion.
So how did we get here?
The simplest answer is probably my realization that my kids were and are capable human beings and that I did not have to do all this alone. We were homeschooling TOGETHER. I was homeschooling WITH my children. I was not in charge of whipping up magical environments for them every day. Nope. I was learning alongside them and each person had some element of beauty to add to the family experience of homeschooling. If we wanted peaceful, inspiring mornings, we would all have to get there together.
First there is the realistic part of morning time. Breakfast won’t make itself. How do we get kids to pitch in? Toddlers in their little “me do it” phase are the best place to start.
“ME DO IT!” tiny person demands.
“Yes, you do it,” bigger person affirms.
Then you let them do it. Help them learn how to “Me do it” correctly. This will take time. Lots and lots of time. This will make a mess. Lots and lots of mess. Do it anyway.
Teach them how to make their bed and brush their teeth and have them do jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. Try not to plop them in front of the TV first thing in the morning, it will train their attention spans to become very very short and align their expectations towards entertainment instead of discovery and creation.
Ask them to carry napkins to the table. I know you can do it faster and better, ask them to do it anyway. When they’ve got that done move on to forks, then plates, then cups.
Missed the toddler phase? Its never too late. I really believe that. Have conversations, ask what your older children would like to learn about or enjoy in the mornings, or what they would like to learn to cook. Come up with a schedule together. Share the load!
Our biggest game changers? Teaching them how to unload the dishwasher from dinner the night before and teaching them how to make breakfast. Wow. Those two things changed our lives RADICALLY. Younger kids set the table and engage in smaller prep work like chopping strawberries or pouring half and half into the creamer. Older kids commandeer the toaster or make skillet pancakes or scrambled eggs. I can have 10 minutes to myself to read my Bible and “look into the face of God before looking into the face of man.” I can walk out of my room and greet my boys who have already completed their Morning Top 5 (different for each child but its some combination of 1. Pray 2.Make Bed/Get Dressed 3. Brush Teeth/Wash Face 4. Exercise 5. Chores). Breakfast is well on its way to being finished and the table is set. We sit down and have our morning time together. The little one stays for about 20 minutes before drifting back to his room to play with his toy animals while the rest of us finish morning time (45 minutes-1 hr 15 minutes start to finish). When its done the boys carry the dishes to the sink and I load the empty dishwasher while they wipe the table and sweep under it. Then we all start music practice or math lessons and the day marches on. This whole scenario is made possible by children. It took YEARS of teeny tiny steps to get here.
If you are a Charlotte Mason mama you may have that quote about the mother that takes pains to endow her children with good habits ensuring smooth and easy days for herself blaring through your mind right now.
Confession? The longer I homeschool, the more I cringe when people pull that quote.
In some ways, YES, these good habits ensured a smoother start to our day, HOWEVER my kids are still human. They sometimes wake up grumpy. Hell, I wake up grumpy more often than not. My youngest child has SPD and there are some days when little man is just NOT having it. Smooth and easy days all the time? Nope. That will only happen in heaven. Good habits don’t make our days perfect, but they certainly give us a leg up on most problems and these good habits are S L O W L Y becoming character which is the real goal, not just easier mornings. I am talking about character for myself by the way. Lets always start with ourselves.
I am not a morning person. There is no glossing over that fact. If its 7AM and the limpkin outside my window is screaming, I’d rather shoot it than nature journal it. But that would be illegal because the little devils are protected by federal law (looked that up three days into their mating season last spring). Morning Time is a holy mercy to our family because without all that peace and beauty, these kids have their sometimes grumpy mother to contend with. I value morning time because it fortifies, encourages, uplifts and inspires me right when I am at my worst, right when I need it most.
If I had to make breakfast by myself every day AND clean dishes AND sweep AND get beds made and kids dressed AND all the other stuff….I wouldn’t be able to do it every day because I am not that girl. I’m just not. Having my boys unload the dishwasher and make breakfast is HUGE for me. It blesses me and they know it. I remember this later in the day they are at their worst and need mercy from me. I step in their gaps the way they step in mine. Breakfast and morning dishes are my gap. Breakfast is half the battle of morning time. The other half is getting kids to sit down for morning time, more on that next time!
We get lots of requests for breakfast recipes. I’ve resisted because I am not great about measuring when I cook. If you are great with measuring, you will probably hate the next three minutes of your life. If my Tia Racky reads this she will be cringing the whole time. This is my best guess for these recipes. If I don’t list an exact amount its because I trust you to figure it out.
Without further ado, here are our FAVORITE kid-friendly recipes for Morning Time
- The Skillet Pancake (cuz nobody has time to flip 20 small pancakes around here)
10 minutes of Prep
30 minutes Bake time
Preheat 375 degrees
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp salt
3/4 C buttermilk or whole milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
Mix it, pour it into a cast iron skillet and let er’ bake till golden brown. Slice it up like a pie and serve warm
Topping options: Chopped strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mangos, chocolate chops, maple syrup, honey, etc. Sky is the limit!
My 9 year old LOVES making this one.
- The Crossainwhich
Prep Time 15 minutes
Bake Time 20 minutes
**This depends on your stance on packaged food. If you know how to make your own croissant dough, hats off to you! I buy the Immaculate Bakery dough whenever its on sale.
Roll em’ up, cook em’, serve em’.
The 5 year old is ENTHUSIASTIC about rolling these puppies up.
- Parfait Factory
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Whole Yogurt (Try for something low on sugar and high on probiotics)
We get a little assembly line going here. This is a crowd favorite the day after we go grocery shopping since the berries are still fresh. My eldest has been on a yogurt embargo since 2010 so he usually makes himself toast.
- Gluten Free Souffles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: Depends on your oven!
Favorite Seasonings (Ours is Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning)
Grease that tin! Drop in some chopped ham, a little bit o’ spinach and then drop in a whole egg or if your kids prefer scrambled (mine do) pour some whipped egg mixture into each hole. Sprinkle with cheese and bake! Kids love commandeering this one!
- German Pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Preheat 350 degrees
1 C milk
1 C All Purpose Flour
6 eggs beaten
1/4 C butter
Salt to taste
1 tsp Vanilla
pinch of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top
Pour the mixture into a dish and bake till golden and puffy and bubbly and amazing. Serve with honey or syrup or whipped cream and raspberries. Many thanks to our friends Justin and Victoria and their two sets of twin girls for introducing us to these.
- The Hodge Podge
Thats what I say when its every man for himself. More often than not we boil a bunch of eggs (my FAVORITE way to get a toddler to stay engaged with morning time is to give him a hands on breakfast like a boiled egg and a clementine, he peels while I read!). Then we toast all the toast, chop up fruit and serve up some tea. With each kid grabbing something different, it eventually rounds out well. I know this is not technically a RECIPE, so think of it as a recipe for creativity. We don’t have to plan out every last detail. Spontaneity is a great gift on the first day of your period when the kids are wired and its raining all day long and your spouse is working late. This is when I call for the Hodge Podge morning time, a strong pot of tea and a healthy dose of Bear Grylls episodes afterwards.
If you have especially great eyesight and have spotted our favorite Keesh-Ways (Abuela’s way of pronouncing Quiche) in our Instagram stories or in pictures and are wondering why I didn’t share the recipe above, well, its not my recipe! It belongs to my friend Sally Clarkson. You can find that recipe in her book: The Life Giving Home. (Read her book no matter what because its FANTASTIC, but know that her rocking’ quiche recipe is in there and my kids love making it).
Remember friend, our kids can bring something to the table. Even if their range of abilities means their contribution is a smile and song, we can all add beauty to our mornings together. Get those kiddos cooking, picking flowers, singing hymns and listening to God’s word!
You can find some helpful kitchen tools in one of our Christmas Guides for little chefs HERE (Amzn affiliate links)
18 thoughts on “Morning Time Tips: Your Job is NOT to Make it Magical (or Kids Can Make Breakfast)”
Thank you for this. Reading your blogs encourages me more than I can ever say. I live in a family with several public school teachers. Eek. Somehow they take our homeschooling as a personal attack on their life work! I just let it be, and try to stay focused on my life work without trying to defend what we know to be right. We are the first to homeschool in my family, without support of key people in my life. Seeing your family, reading about rough beginnings and difficult moments that still pop up are part of what I see as reassurance that we are on the right track. Perseverance is key. My boys are 6, 5, 3 and 7 months. We have had probably five good morning times out of 40! Thank you for this! Especially after this morning…!
My 4 are close in age to yours!! It’s CHAOS! HAHA 5.5, 4, 2, and 9 months over here. Can’t wait till half of them are making breakfast and half are sweeping 😉 some day!
Best way to have German pancakes….freshly squeezed lemon juice and powdered sugar. Divine!
This is incredibly helpful! I struggle with our morning time because I am normally wore out already after making breakfast. This just may change my life, lol.
Do you have a page number for the Sally Clarkson recipe? I have both her home and table books. Can you specify where to find it? I am writing all recipes on cards for the kids to follow!
Elsie, I imagine you get these messages all the live-long day. But you have meant so much to my walk as a mother. Sometimes it’s hard to read your posts, because I get depressed about the vast divide that seems to separate our home from yours. I can’t give up reading though, because I learn so much from you. When I get an inkling to browse your blog, I’ll pray first and say, “God, I know you don’t want me to be this woman, and that we’ll never look like them. But will you help me to change? Help me see what you want me to do and please give me the strength to do it.” Please continue to share honestly, practically, with specifics and details. You are changing families! (And I am so grateful to finally satisfy my curiosities about what you people are always eating for breakfast!!! 😉
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Thank you for this inspiration and encouragement! I have a 2 year old and I am in the mindset that I can do it faster/better.. but he is great at unloading silverware from the dishwasher and loves sitting on the counter to help me cook. I need to learn some patience because WOW will it be worth it!
And yes, the Life Giving Home needs to be in every home along with the Life Giving Table.
I loved your “back then” reflections because I feel like that’s where I am now and it’s crazy! It’s comforting to know you got to where you are now from there. It gives me hope for my boys. Right now half of them are diapered and the other half can’t always wipe themselves. (They are 2 months, 2, 4, and 6). Thank you for this! I had some excellent moments of inspiration that I think are going to help our mornings run smoother.
Love this! Thank you for sharing your precious times with us!
Nothing so refreshing as a mamma with beautiful home pictures laying out the REAL of it all. Thank you! I am encouraged!
Goodness, I just love you! Thank you for this. I want us to do morning time, but this will be our 6th year homeschooling, and it has yet to stick, after many attempts at implementation. (That might have something to do with the fact that we keep bringing more tiny people into the family!) It is so encouraging to hear that A) I’m not the only non-morning person homeschooler B) it’s ok to take baby steps C) I don’t have to do everything! Also, I am certain if you lived in TN we would be dear friends. 🙂
Wow I cannot tell you how much I loved this post! so so encouraging and inspiring.
What a nice post. Just what I needed before we start a new school year- to remember what it’s all about and making sure to connect with my kids. My mornings are rough and I think it’s because I do all the morning tasks myself. I’m wondering how you stay calm when training your children to do morning routines? I have 2,4,8, and 9 year old and the toddler is a lot of work that I get frustrated early on in my day (let’s be real!), but I like your idea of including all kids in contributing to family morning time. Something to write about in my journal!
Thank you! Thank you! So needed that encouragement as we head into a new school year next month. I have envied your morning table and I loved the honesty in your writing here. It’s so true. It will never be perfect this side of heaven but we can make small steps to make it smoother. And we don’t have to do it all! One question, how do you handle the mouths full of food while singing or reciting? I will read aloud during breakfast but even our narrations fall apart because the boys keep eating while talking (it comes down to table manners I guess) but how have you handled this?
This is the best blog post I’ve read about homeschooling and mothering. Thank you! You are such an encourager. You just took a load off of my shoulders and my 7 year old is delighted to start cooking breakfast. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts and share your journey with us.
So I just made the skillet pancake today…it was yummy! However, with a 6 year old, 4 year old, and myself it really wasn’t enough. My kids eat a lot. I am kind of amazed…is that really enough for you and all your 4 kids? Or do you supplement with something else?
Love the ideas and plan to start teaching my kids to make breakfast in August when I finish with my daycare client.
Have you written more about your struggles with PTSD somewhere on your blog? Did you find out the cause and have you found ways that help you manage it?
Possibly struggling with the same thing…
Blessings to you and your sweet family!
Momma from Texas
Thanks for a sharing and being a real human! This inspires me and helps me feel like I can do this and work my way up to morning time! The recipes sound good and easy! I’ve never heard of skillet pancakes why have I been flipping pancakes my whole life!? Lol
This is incredibly helpful and encouraging! Just the motivation I needed to teach my three year old to help more in the kitchen!