Early to Rise

Getting a head start on parenting, and breakfast


For the first time in 3 ½ years, we have started setting an alarm every morning. No, we don't have a 6 am plane to catch. And no, Leo hasn't started sleeping until 9 when left undisturbed. If he sleeps till 7:15 it's a luxuriously late morning. And while I wish I could say we've turned over a new leaf at the 24-hour gym, it's definitely not that. We are allowing a clock to blast us out of bed at 6:45 every morning in hopes of kick-starting better mornings. It seems you have to get up early to get the upper hand with a 3 ½ year old.

This family initiative is also just another approach to the age-old dilemma that there isn't enough time in the day: not enough Daddy-Leo time, not enough breakfast-eating time, not enough time to read to Leo, to coax him through all his morning preparations (clothes, teeth, shoes), not enough time to drop him at school in a calm, pleasant way. That latter is what started the whole thing: our mornings reached an all-time low in the last couple weeks as Leo begin resisting us every step of the way and then screaming when Aaron left him at school.

"Is there something wrong at school?" I started wondering. "Or at home?" Well, yes. Leo is one of 20 kids at school. He wants more attention. And at home, Aaron has been working a LOT this fall. So we are hoping that by setting aside more time to give Leo positive attention, we will all be spared the necessity of giving him negative attention (along the lines of "Leo, let's go! Leo, do not take those shoes off again! Leo, we have to brush teeth now!").

While we're up, I figure we should power up with a lasting, warming morning meal, so I've been fiddling with our usual carb-heavy, hungry-an-hour-later breakfasts. One find: making porridge of half oatmeal and half quinoa is a tasty way to enjoy hot cereal with a much higher protein content. Leo likes it with a huge amount of milk and some maple syrup, while I enjoy sprinkling the mix with crunchy sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Technically quinoa is a seed, and it has an affinity for the flavor of other seeds.

We are having moderately less stressful mornings thus far. And I haven't been hungry till lunchtime, so I count this as a success. Plus waking up earlier means going to bed earlier, which is a change for the better. Now surely we will become healthy, wealthy and wise. Right?

Recipe: Super Start Hot Cereal

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.