Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Five Before Breakfast

Nina leading Jack in a morning stretch.
Several months ago, I journaled the following words

In the past five minutes my son has just quickly made his bed, run over to give me a hug and moved out to the kitchen to join his sister in saying, “We thank you for the sky above and for the ground below…” while stretching.  He then began another prayer.  And all this after going potty and being told that he and his sister could not try to make their own self-directed lapbook until they had finished their Morning Five.

Now, much of this was done with utmost care, and none of it was done with complaint.  What’s gotten into my usual slow-and-begrudgingly-started boy?  Our new Five Before Breakfast.

Since then, my son’s motivation and willingness to compete his Five Before Breakfast has flagged at times.  Yet, more often than not, we find ourselves living our new habit rather than ignoring it, which makes this mama happy.

Just what is our Five Before Breakfast?

Five Before Breakfast is a simple strategy for starting our days well:  It is five things that we have agreed we should do before the children sit down to eat their breakfasts. 

Continuing to stretch.
For the kids, our current five are:

  • Pray.
  • Go potty.
  • Share hugs and kisses.
  • Make beds.
  • Stretch and exercise.

 For Mommy, they transitioned to:

  • Pray.
  • Drink water.
  • Put away dishes.
  • Attend to Laundry.
  • Check emails.

 And are now tweaked to:

  • Water body and soul. (In other words, pray and drink water.)
  • Attend to laundry.
  • Put away dishes.
  • Get fit.
  • Check emails.

Why these five?

One word:  Ownership!

Nina saying an additional morning prayer.
I knew that Luke and Nina (and Jack by modeling after them) would “take” to our Five Before Breakfast if they “owned” the idea.

So, one day, after a particularly trying morning, I asked Luke and Nina what actions and attitudes might have made it better.  I questioned if there were any things we might attend to before breakfast in order to help us all start the day with smiles, love, peace and health.  Perhaps pick a certain number of weeds?  (More on why I asked about the weeds in a later post.  It was a prompt I knew would engage them, and – bonus – it made them giggle.)

Luke and Nina then brainstormed all of the things they thought they should do – which mirrored many of the things that were already on their Morning Lotto Charts, plus a few of their own ideas.  Some of the things they suggested were:

  • praying
  • reading devotionals
  • pulling six weeds from the yard
  • feeding the poor
  • giving Mommy hugs and kisses
  • doing chores
  • sharing hugs, kisses and love
  • stretching
  • jumping on the bed
  • reading two stories
  • having Morning Lotto
  • getting dressed

I read the kids’ list back to them and asked them which things they thought they should do every morning, regardless of whether we were planning to stay at home or were busy and about to head out the door.   Which things could start all of our days well both on slow days and on hurried ones?

I starred their responses and suggested that we try to narrow the list down to just five things.  This, of course, led Nina and Luke into a debate about which of the starred items should actually be part of the five.  (Isn’t it wonderful how an exercise as simple as making a list can help teach compromise and cooperation?)  I moderated and, once the children settled on just five activities, I wrote these down and named them Five Before Breakfast (FBB).  

From there, even though it was well after breakfast, we pretended we’d just woken up and practiced our FBB.  Since the children felt competent and content with them, they were keepers!

Well, keepers to a degree. 

Over time, I pointed out to the children that mommies and kids sometimes have different responsibilities and needs.  So, we talked about what five things Mommy usually does (or should do) in the morning and these became my five.

Thus, began our relatively consistent (although not always!) new wake up routine.

What strategies are working for your mornings lately?  How do you build routines and habits into your life and that of your children?  I invite you to share with a comment.

This post is being shared at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.

3 comments:

Julie Bagamary said...

GREAT stuff!

Kimberlee at SD said...

What a great idea. I love the 5 before breakfast idea. Visiting from WFMW.
~Kimberlee, The Spunky Diva

Charisma DaSilva said...

Love this. What an awesome idea!

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