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Justine’s Family Breakfast Project

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by Justine Uhlenbrock


When the folks at The Family Dinner Project approached me to try out their new breakfast partnership with Cheerios, The Family Breakfast Project, my first thought was: I don’t have enough time to add anything to our breakfast routine.

At that time, we had recently made a big transition. We gave up our relaxed, cartoon-watching non-routine of summer for a fast-paced, challenging, drill-sergeant school routine. It was our first time sending a child to kindergarten, and the start-time switch from 9am to 8am was painful for all of us.

I felt pressed to get everything done in the morning. It seemed like every precious minute was spent accomplishing necessary goals: dressing, eating, packing a lunch, brushing teeth and washing up, and getting shoes and winter attire on. Oh, and the kindergarten backpack with folder and any homework tucked in, too. I envisioned reading about the program, then feeling guilty for not being able to enact all the wonderful things it offered.

Although I resisted making any changes to our already packed schedule, I figured it couldn’t hurt to promote the program for other families who sought to broaden their breakfast horizons. So we agreed to participate in their commercial (we’re that first family in the clip). That was a blast! After shooting the commercial, I completely forgot about the whole thing and went about my business.

Then on a weekend in February, I began receiving calls out of the blue from friends and family who had seen the commercial and wanted to know what it was all about. Right then and there, I unwittingly became the program’s lay-spokesperson. For the next few weeks, the questions continued rolling in at school drop-off, swim class, church, and the library. I realized it was time to beef up my knowledge about the program.

So I started reading the ideas. I bet you can guess what happened after that. Despite my internal protests, I found myself jotting great ideas down in my red notebook. I even slowly made some changes, like these:

Now I (sometimes) pack lunch the night before, even including little notes of encouragement.

I get up half an hour earlier and wake the kids up 15 minutes earlier.

I print the clothing checklist and encourage the kids to pick out their clothes while I pack lunch.

All of these time-savers have resulted in a few extra minutes for me to sit down with the girls and eat breakfast. I cherish these minutes that life actually feels slow enough to appreciate each other and the quiet morning.

I could spend all my time talking just about the Family Breakfast Project’s printables and recipes; those freebies alone are worth downloading the PDF. But what I found to be the best part about the new program is the same perk I love about The Family Dinner Project–the ideas for conversation. Here are my favorites:

Wish & Worry + Forecast your Day 

Allowing the kids the chance to tell us how they are feeling about their day using the weather (e.g. rainbow for happiness, thunderstorms for worries) is a great way to let them communicate without having to use big words they may not understand, like embarrassed, jealous, or frustrated. Luckily at this age most of their days are filled with rainbows and sunshine (oh how I wish our actual March forecasts in Boston were this cheery). I’m happy that we’ve established this routine early, so that when they do start having less-than-perfect days, they’ll know we are available to talk to about their feelings.

“Talk about it when you were a kid”

I put that in quotes because it’s how our kindergartner expresses that she wants to hear stories from our childhoods. This game used to be part of our bedtime routine; now that the girls share a room, we are less inclined to tell long stories because our preschooler is still into reading the same book over and over (this week it’s Ladybug Girl again). It’s been great to incorporate the story routine into our morning instead. If Vivi has music class one day, I can tell her an amusing story about the time my teacher made me sing “Little Drummer Boy” a cappella in front of the entire third grade group because I had been misbehaving.

Here are some more ideas from the program that we haven’t put into action yet but that seem like they would be fun for us to try during our 15 relaxing morning minutes:

  1. Name three family rituals and traditions
  2. Teach the kids how to make something for you at breakfast
  3. Introduce a new fruit
  4. “If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?”
  5. One-sentence story about what all our days will be like
  6. Simple acts of kindness
  7. Game of telephone
To celebrate and promote the Family Breakfast Project, I shared five breakfast recipes last week (and am still planning to share recipes for johnnycakes and brown bread). I hope these ideas will inspire you to try a new breakfast that’s fast and easy:
Justine Uhlenbrok blogs regularly at The Lone Home Ranger, where a slightly different version of this post appeared.
Have you tried The Family Breakfast Project, our partnership with Cheerios to make breakfast time easier, more fun and more meaningful?  If yes, we want to hear how it went, what you liked best about it, what you do differently now that you’ve tried it, or whatever you want to tell us! We will share feedback and stories on our website and/or social media!
Email: amy@thefamilydinnerproject.org or submit via our contact page.