For most of us, school has now started and summer is becoming a not-so-distant memory. The concept of sleeping-in has been replaced by grumpy kids unaccustomed to early mornings and heavy backpacks. Each year as summer comes to a close, I feel a tinge of guilt as I admit to myself that I am ready for school to start. There are just so many times I care to hear the familiar chorus of:
“Stop looking at me.”
“I’m not looking at you.”
“Mom, she’s looking at me.”
“Well, then stop looking at her.” (Yes, that’s when I join the song).
If waking up early to catch the carpool or bus isn’t punishment enough, trying to get kids to eat breakfast when they’re tired and hurried is no fun at all. I’m always trying to get my kids to try new things, but first thing in the morning on a school day is not the time to introduce a new breakfast dish. That is what weekends are for. I find out the night before what the kids want, then get it as ready as I can – thaw a muffin or bagel, cut up fruit and most importantly, get my coffee ready so that I can navigate the morning as smoothly as possible. Cuz if mama’s not happy…nobody’s happy.
I love to get protein into my kids in the morning on a school day. Egg Scrambles are quick and filling, as are the protein-rich quinoa Banana Pumpkin Muffins made ahead of time and frozen for grab and go. Toast with a slather of organic peanut butter works too.
As important as a good breakfast is, sleep reigns supreme in our house. Last year, I realized my then seven year son and I were battling in the mornings. He is a rather particular dresser – sound familiar? So we decided to lay things out the night before. This worked a bit of the time, but on nights when he didn’t get to bed on time, he decided on his own to wear his school clothes to bed. I wish I’d thought of that.
One other flash of brilliance with this little one was when I asked him repeatedly to make his bed. Now, on my most anal day, I am not a hospital corners person. Never have been. But I have seen him work wonders with a beach towel, so I figured he could probably pull his bed spread up all by himself. I noticed that my insistence was beginning to cause him stress. So this little guy figured out, all on his own, that if he slept on top of the bedspread with a warm fleece blanket wrapped around him, he wouldn’t have to make the bed. In the morning, he tossed the blanket to the foot of his bed in a pile, but damn if his bed wasn’t made. I laughed all morning…at his ingenuity, his creativity and problem-solving. And as we parents often realize, I became the student that day.
There’s a lot of stress with parenting. We feel like the diligent salmon, swimming upstream because that’s our job. Making sure our kids sleep, get dressed and eat healthfully are the trifecta of parental stress. But by suspending our expectations of what is “normal” or “acceptable”, we can honor the nature of our kids in a new way. In a way they create and need. If you can do that, then who cares if the bed isn’t made, or they go to school with deep wrinkles in their clothes? Or they arrive at school with a half eaten bagel in their hands. Life isn’t tidy, is it? But it gets a lot easier if we accept that fact and champion our kids the way they are.
Okay, back to food. When the little ones get home, surprise them with a treat these first few weeks of school. Chance are they will be overwhelmed, tired and stressed when they finally make it through the door, dumping their backpack in a pile. Surprise them with Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and a cold glass of almond milk. And a half hour of cartoons. Or whatever activity or lack-there-of their little hearts desire. And that’s how you can always let them know you’re on their team.
Amy’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Special equipment: mini ice-cream scooper
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1/2 c. agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. almond flour
3/4 c. quinoa flakes
3/4 c. rice flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix egg, grapeseed oil, agave nectar and vanilla together until thoroughly blended.
3. In separate bowl, mix all remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips.
4. Gradually pour all dry ingredients into wet and mix thoroughly. Add chocolate chips and stir.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheet. I use a small ice cream scooper to make the cookies uniform (you can also roll between your hands) and I grease the cookie sheet by pouring 1 tsp. grapeseed oil onto the sheet and rubbing it over every inch with a paper towel.
6. Cook for 9-10 minutes and remove. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack. Serve warm or store in an air tight container.