This week’s New York Times Motherlode post “The Family Breakfast“ got me thinking about how time, energy and money converge. The essay is by a stay-at-home mom of six (six!), who found that breakfast — opposed to dinner — is the best time for her family to come together daily, share holidays and everydays, and stay connected. It’s a sweet post.
At my house, we eat breakfast and dinner together — as well as lunch on the weekend. I make a full, hot meal (usually), and we sit around the dining table and chat. Usually it is just the three of us, Helena, Lucas and me, though I try to have guests over at least once a week. In the mornings we listen to NPR, and lately Helena, 4, has been asking a lot of questions about girls’ education in Afghanistan.
To be honest, for me it doesn’t feel like a big ordeal to commit to family meals. For one, my kids are little, so meals don’t yet compete with extracurricular activities. Also, I’m self-employed and work from home — the resulting flexibility is critical to my ability to create a life well lived. Like the post’s author Mary Alice Teti, who does not work outside of her home, there are financial, time and energy resources at my disposal to make committing to this ritual a pleasure — not another chore.
Another thing at play: I love to eat, and I love to cook. It’s a joy for me to create goat cheese and roasted red pepper omelets, or stuffed banana French toast. Check out my (self-invented, just this week!) recipe for breakfast cous-cous, below. But if whipping up pineapple bran muffins first thing in the morning isn’t your thing, Cheerios are perfectly fine. The point is to figure out what brings meaning to your life, and move around your time, money and energy to make those things happen.
Maybe family breakfasts mean getting everyone up a half hour earlier. Or bake banana bread the night before. Or — getting crazy here — if you share a commute to work and school or daycare, everyone stops off at the local Denny’s for pancakes every Tuesday. Find a way to make it fun for everyone — especially you.
Left-Over Cous-Cous Porridge
1. Dump cooked cous-cous in a saucepan.
2. Fill with enough milk to cover cous-cous.
3. Add sugar until you feel guilty. Then stop.
4. Throw in any spices and extras you fancy: vanilla, cinnamon, cardamon, raisins, nuts.
5. Simmer, covered, on low until thick.
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