This is not about the kids bringing me breakfast in bed — that’s a story for another day — but about the kids getting their own breakfast, independently, while I remain in bed. It hasn’t always been easy to stay put while the boys crash around downstairs, but you can’t learn to eat, to make good choices about the food you put in your body, without some independent moments, so I’m doing all I can to foster those moments.
It turns out to have as much to do with the kitchen lay-out as the food we keep there. They’ve been able to reach the snack foods (in low pantry shelves) and fill their own water cups (my younger son still needs to pull a stool up to the sink) for some time now, but we didn’t quite have it all set up for them to get their own breakfasts until this fall.
It meant finally moving most of the plastic dishes and cups out of the low kitchen drawers and replacing them with proper dishware. My kids are eight and five and, perhaps more to the point, they’re careful; using the “real” dishes is a point of pride with them. On the other hand, we’ve had these dishes over ten years and they didn’t cost much then, so if an accident happens, the only problem is the mess.
We moved proper glasses (mostly cheapies from Ikea) into a drawer, too:
The next step was getting all the cereal into easy open (and close) containers. The homemade granola lives in a container the kids can scoop from; the rest of the cereal goes into these tubs, which are somehow so much easier to pour from than boxes (and you can buy cereal in bulk to save money and decant into them):
Sometimes breakfast includes frozen berries — reachable in the low freezer — and sometimes a sprinkle of dried cranberries from the basket next to the cereal. Ben went through a brief phase, years ago, when breakfast was graham crackers and sun dried tomatoes; both kids’ choices are a bit more traditional these days.
The last step was the milk, because pulling a stool to the fridge and hauling the milk down (and back up) was just not going to work:
And so I went shopping for one small jug…
…which now happens to live next to the chocolate syrup: a quiet challenge? Perhaps, though it’s unintentional. More importantly, it’s a choice, which they are learning to make every morning.
Thanks for this post. It’s very useful.
Our set up is just like yours, Caroline–for the same reasons! Ella and Finn do the same thing on many weekend mornings. Sometimes, they’re even so quiet we can sleep through it all, and there’s a nice surprise of not-hungry kids when we wake up!
Dex has been making his own food for a while but that milk tip is a good one. He always ends up spilling it. Sophie would rather go hungry than make her own meals but luckily Dex enjoys cooking so he will make her pancakes, fried eggs etc. when she orders it. My problem is making him clean up the cooking mess. Any tips on that? Please!
Leaving the milk next to the chocolate syrup is tempting fate! Hats off to any 5 and 8 year old who will leave the syrup alone when it is sitting so tantalisingly close to the milk..I know my kids would be all over it in a shot!
Julie, I’m sorry I have no good advice about the cleaning up! I did get a small, cute spray bottle (with a vinegar/water solution) for the boys to at least spray and wipe the table after they eat, but neither that nor project Load the Dishwasher has really taken off.
Claire, I expect it’s only a matter of time before I have to put that chocolate syrup out of reach.