Mornings are the craziest time of the day in our household. Well, that and the awful witching hour between 5 and 6pm, but at least it’s socially acceptable for me to drink wine at that time. I didn’t like the chaos and hated feeling like I was already behind the ball and it wasn’t even 8am. The reality: We have less than one hour from wake-up to getting two kids out the door. That’s a really small window to eat breakfast, brush hair and teeth, put the dishes away and walk the dog. Sure, we can wake the kids even earlier, but our 7-year-old is already waking between 6:45 and 7am, which I feel is too early anyway.
A few months ago I decided to improve how we start our days. After some trial and error, I discovered two small changes that make a world of difference for how we function in the morning. Read on for the two tweaks that are making our mornings smoother and happier.
#1: I Introduced Smoothies for Breakfast Every Day
Since my older child is mostly managing her morning routine herself, my biggest time drains in the AM were breakfast and wrestling my toddler into clothes. I decided to tackle the breakfast issue first.
This is the toddler and those are the troublesome clothes
At the same time, I saw Catherine McCord of Weelicious and her smoothie-loving kids. While I liked the idea in theory, I couldn’t figure out how I’d have time for one more thing every morning. Then, I did – the smoothie doesn’t have to be in addition to a huge breakfast. It can BE the filling breakfast.
Today, I make a 30-48 oz fruit and veggie smoothie nearly every morning. This feeds both kids plus makes one large meal-replacement smoothie for my husband or myself (or two smaller ones for us both). I spend 4 minutes from start to finish; 6 minutes if I wash the blender right away. The smoothies are so filling that our kids don’t want much else for breakfast, but we usually offer an easy-to-prepare protein anyway. Our go-to’s are smoked salmon, scrambled eggs or chicken sausage, or a bowl of oatmeal (made overnight in the crockpot) with berries and flaxseed.
The best part is that my kids now START their day having nearly 100% of the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. This automatically takes a lot of pressure off me stressing about them getting enough veggies. Plus, served in these Camelbak water bottles, they are a portable breakfast on those mornings we’re running late.
Best of all, my kids absolutely smoothies and are disappointed on the rare mornings we don’t have them!
Here are a few things I think helped our transition to “Smoothie Mornings”:
- A large-capacity high-powered blender makes a huge difference. I started by using my 10+ year old Waring Pro but investing in a VitaMix really cuts down on my time prepping smoothies.
- My kids pick the color of the smoothie they want and we try together to add the ingredients to achieve that color.
- Add-ins like flax seeds, chia seeds, bee pollen, collagen and protein powder, etc. easily up the nutrition factor. I used this list to get started.
- Don’t hide the veggies. My kids watch me make the smoothies and know every ingredient. Often, they help make their own recipes and gladly thrown in kale, spinach, bok choy and cauliflower.
- Frozen riced cauliflower has almost no taste or color making it a great staple ingredient in smoothies. Plus, it replaces the ice in a lot of recipes so smoothies are creamier.
- Using frozen produce is much faster than washing/cutting fresh fruit and veggies. Plus frozen produce often has as many nutrients (if not more) than fresh because it’s frozen almost immediately after harvest.
Did I mention that it takes less than 5 minutes to make a great smoothie?
#2 I Started Waking Up (Long) Before My Kids
This second change is pure common sense but bear with me for a moment anyway. Whenever I wake up after my kids, I feel like I’m starting my day behind and it’s a crappy feeling. If my kiddos are asking for breakfast while I’m brushing my teeth or looking for an outfit, it’s not going to go well for anyone. But I was already waking up before my kids (usually by 30-45 minutes). So, what was the problem?
Well, in that short window of time, I was trying to have a quiet cup of tea, chat with my husband, scroll social media, read the morning news and still get myself showered and dressed. It clearly wasn’t working because I wasn’t accounting for the ACTUAL time it takes to do all that I wanted to accomplish.
The answer was clear: I had to start getting up even earlier. I moved my wakeup time to nearly 2 hours before the kids wake and now have enough time to do everything I want (including getting a workout in two weekday mornings). Problem solved, right?! Nope.
After several weeks of early waking all of the blogs and books said my body would adjust to the change. I was supposed to have more energy and be more productive. Yet here I was feeling EXHAUSTED by mid-day. Literally putting my head on the table exhausted. As my grandma says, “Common sense just ain’t so common, baby”.
While I was getting up so much earlier, I wasn’t going to bed any earlier. I had inadvertently cut my normal 8 hours of sleep to 6 or fewer. Naturally I was groggy and cranky. This is a recent realization for me (don’t judge me, people) so I’m experimenting with an earlier bedtime and will report back, but I can already feel the difference.
Why I Believe It’s Working
I don’t promise these specific two changes will help anyone else, but perhaps they spark an idea about your own morning routine. What I love about these tweaks is that they are both entirely under my control. Achieving less frantic mornings doesn’t involve asking my husband to pitch in more or changing my kids’ behavior. Honestly, that’s probably why the’ve been so successful – the buck starts and stops with me.
How are mornings in your household? If they’re smooth sailing, would you share your tips with us below? (Pretty please?!)