As moms, we hear, read and give millions of pieces of advice. The most steadfast, the truest, longest-spoken words of wisdom seem to be ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ and ‘find a bedtime routine that works, and don’t deviate, if you want your children to sleep like babies’.
But these sayings aren’t totally true or transparent. While breakfast might be an important meal, it’s not necessarily the important – we assume it is because it’s breaking the night-time long fast (get it, break-fast?), and even more so, it was likely coined as such to influence people to eat upon waking, and to send their kids to school with bellies full of nutritious food, staving off tiredness and leaving them alert, but not hyperactive. The bedtime routine rule seems universal… except for children adverse to a routine, or those that, even when reliant on one, still don’t peacefully delve into slumber and stay there. It’s a fact of (my) life, some kids just don’t pass out after brushing their teeth, three kisses, a huge hug and the giving over of 12 stuffed animals.
I suggest that we try to create a new phrase that pays: start the day off ________.
As moms, we hear, read and give millions of pieces of advice, but how often do we intentionally question if we should be doing something different? In this case, it’s more likely that we start the morning off brewing coffee, racing through breakfast and clean-up, lunch preparation, dressing and drop-off. What if we woke up a little bit earlier, even 20 minutes, and used the time to do something different.
Here’s my proposal: instead of the usual bedtime story, yawning through pages while you distractedly think about all of the things you have to get done before you can turn in yourself, try reading with your child in the morning, before you get up and going. Trip to the kitchen and turn on the coffee pot, rub your eyes, grab a book and your kids, and crawl back into a still-warm bed. Spend 15 minutes cuddling, with a book propped up on your chest. Weave a tale in an intimate session that starts the day off with a feeling of love and closeness.
Can you think of any drawbacks? Sure, you’ll get less sleep. Except that you might actually find that starting the morning off like this leads to your child being more affectionate, attentive and focused – actually making your morning (and maybe even the rest of the day) sail smoother. Think you’ll get less done, during a time of the day when you can’t afford to not do something? You shouldn’t, given that it’s not costing you any of your usual waking productive time – you woke up earlier, remember? Assuming that your child might not be interested in this gig? Ask. You might be surprised.
But that’s just my idea. I ask you, if you were going to try an experiment like this, intending to start each and every day with a happy, bonding moment, what would you do? If you wouldn’t read first thing in the morning, would you make muffins together, take a bubble bath, decorate pancakes with fruit puree?