We’ve all experienced this with young children. Their feet hit the floor in the morning, and from then until lunchtime, it feels like you can’t catch your breath. It feels like you’re behind and you’re not even sure how that happened since you’re the adult and they are just being kids.
The mom guilt. It always shows up on time, without an invitation.
About the time when I started to realize with a two year old, and a baby on the way that this was not going to change anytime soon unless I made it change, was the time I started to learn about “morning rhythms”. Yes, there are daily rhythms, but I’m a bit of a squirrel when it comes to too many shiny things, so we started with mornings. Mornings felt the most chaotic for us, and I’ve always had the attitude that you start where there’s the most stress- and move out from there.
My two year old (like most) is a picky eater. However, I started to discover the magical fact that if she helps me make something, she’ll usually at least try it. That coupled with some TED talks about the comfort in a solid routine that doesn’t require decision making landed us on hot oatmeal with yogurt for breakfast. Every. Morning.
It takes us less time to make a pot of oats on the stove than for me to pour us all bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios. She gets the choice of whether we mix in Peanut Butter and Jelly, Raisins and Molasses, or some Chocolate Chips and Berries. Really it’s about whatever I have in the cupboard that a 2 year old may have interest in. (It’s usually PB and J by the way.) Then we slap a scoop of honey yogurt in the center. And here’s the truly magical part of this morning…
She sits in one place and eats with me. Yes, my off the walls 2 year old sits down.
After doing some reading of the Whole Family Rhythms how-to series on starting a family rhythm (check my resources page for a link to her beautiful website). I decided to introduce a candle to our eating space. As you can see from the pictures, sometimes it’s a beeswax candle we made ourselves, sometimes it’s a colorful coconut wax one from the store, the point is- there is ALWAYS a candle. And we light it together, only when we are completely ready to eat, and she gets to blow the candle out once we are done eating. The phone gets plugged in across the room. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. The point of this morning rhythm is that we are present together. Toys are welcome, but we sit together the entire time.
I cannot aptly explain to you what a transformation this simple routine has made on our entire morning time. Now that her baby sister is a bit older, she now joins us in her high chair, and it’s a wonderful time for all three of us.
This seems daunting to try. It may feel awkward and forced. But, all I can implore you is to try something. It doesn’t have to look anything like our rhythm. But, rhythms are vital to finding peace and reducing anxiety in our kids. So, take a deep breath, look at your mornings, and invite your children in to a more peaceful start.