It’s quiet in my house in the wee hours of the morning. Before everyone begins to rise for the day, there’s only the sound of my breathing and the ticking of the kitchen clock. Now that we’ve reached September, the sun is rising later, so I can see the pinks and blues spread through the sky with the early morning light.
Before I know it, alarms will go off, kids will rise and it will be time to start the day. And with the start of the school year, I’ve been contemplating how much responsibility my kids should have in the morning, and how much help I should give to ensure that mornings this year are stress free. That’s the goal.
My kids have been tasked with choosing clothes and getting themselves dressed for years. At times, they’ve been responsible for their breakfasts too. And sometimes they pitch in with making lunches — something that I intend to do more of this year. Still, I’m not sure what the right balance is between me helping them and them doing stuff on their own.
How much responsibility should kids have in the morning though? Experts tell me that it really depends on the kids.
“Responsibility has no age limits. Even younger children can have a role in the morning,” said Ellie Hirsch, founder of Mommy Masters.com, a parenting advice website.
Hirsch suggests giving kids different tasks and making mornings a team effort. “One child can fill up the dog’s bowl with food, another can put ice packs in lunch boxes, someone else can help with breakfast,” Hirsch said.
In our house, with different school schedules, a team effort might not work right now. While my son is tasked with waking his sister, she gets up too late to help with lunch packing — for her brother, anyway. But giving the kids set responsibility for their mornings is a great idea, and one I plan to employ.
All that said, when kids take on more responsibility, they still need parenting in the morning. “We all know that children need an extra push or three in the morning so it’s important to stay on top of them to ensure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” Hirsch said.
Speedy Oatmeal in the Morning
Sending my kids off to school with a nutritious breakfast in their bellies is a high priority for me, so that’s a part of morning responsibility I take on often. Though my kids are totally capable of getting (or making) their own breakfasts, I like ensuring that the foods they eat will fuel them until lunchtime.
Enter oatmeal. Did you know that oats are a whole grain? Rich in dietary fiber, oats are so good for you and can help reduce cholesterol. And for eating, they are so versatile. Whether you like rolled oats, which are rolled flat (that’s probably the oatmeal you grew up on) or steel cut, which are chopped into pieces and yield a chewier oatmeal, it’s a great, wholesome food to start the day with.
And Bob’s Red Mill oats? They’re sourced gluten free and packaged in a 100 percent gluten free facility. So if you have a gluten allergy, you can be sure the company takes care to ensure they are safe for those living gluten free.
Over the years, I’ve discovered how delicious oatmeal can be when you customize the flavorings to your liking. And one of my favorite ways to enjoy oatmeal is with a mixed berry topping. This recipe is inspired by a coffee shop oatmeal that I feel in love with last winter.
Mixed Berry Oatmeal starts with the oats. Bob’s Red Mill oats are great for this — particularly their Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, which are ready in about five minutes.
You simply follow the instructions on the package, and they’re ready to enjoy.
While the oats are cooking, mix together berries and honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil. You can use frozen or fresh berries — whatever works best for you. Frozen will take slightly longer to cook though. Once the fruit has released it’s juices (the sauce should be a deep red-purple color), remove it from the burner.
Spoon the oatmeal into bowls and top with a little brown sugar and then the berry sauce.
Easy. Fast. And so, so good.
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
- 1 cup mixed berries -- blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, whatever you wish
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp brown sugar, divided
- Cook the oats according to package directions.
- While the oats are cooking, combine the berries and honey in a saucepan set over medium heat on the stove. Cook until the fruit releases its juices -- about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Divide the oatmeal between two bowls. Top each with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and ½ of the berry mixture.
How to Flavor Oatmeal
Need something faster than this oatmeal recipe? No problem. Try one of these super easy combinations:
- Brown sugar, maple and chopped pecans
- Mashed banana and peanut butter powder
- Fresh berries and honey
- Strawberry jam
- Crushed graham crackers, marshmallows and dark chocolate chips
- Dried cranberries, honey and dark chocolate chips
- Berries and granola
Psst! Here’s a coupon for Bob’s Red Mill oats.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.