How to Fail and Succeed at a Family Breakfast

This post is sponsored by The Family Breakfast Project, a Cheerios/The Family Dinner project initiative whose purpose it is to get families eating together in the mornings. 
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When I first spoke to the folks at The Family Breakfast Project about this post, I told them point blank that we seldom eat together as a family. Not breakfast. Not dinner. Not even lunch.

We didn't always eat in shifts. When it was just the four of us we almost always ate together. Breakfast was the exception because the kids were  up at the crack and Hal and I were like, UHHHHHH, cartoons! How about cartoons! SO. Cartoons and cheerios in little plastic bowls it was and still kind of is, to be honest.  I mean, sure, we do bagel Sundays and on the weekends we're all at least STANDING next to the table when we eat, but on week days we never eat together. Never. Like, ever. 

Hal's out the door at 6. Tamara is here tending to twins while I'm getting big kids out the door and I usually get dressed while they're eating as opposed to joining them to talk about life... Womp.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

SO. I wanted to take on this challenge because I felt it was something I really needed to work on as a parent.

Which brings me to Hal. It is impossible for us to eat together as a family of six when Hal leaves for work at 6... because, well... yeah. However, there is no reason the rest of us couldn't eat together, right? But I soon found this challenge to be FAR harder than I thought.

I realized that you can't teach old dogs new tricks as I tried to woo the kids to a table.

Here's how our week of "family breakfasts" went down via daily diary. 

Day One:
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Today was an absolute disaster. I wanted everyone to sit down to breakfast as a family and everyone gave me a look and was like, "is that even English?"

"Don't you all want to eat together this morning?"

"But why...?"

"Because it's nice to be together at the table and talk and laugh and have conversations?"

"No thanks."

"How about tomorrow?"


Day Two
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My second attempt at a family breakfast was, yet again, unsuccessful. Archer and Fable were in the middle of a heated Monopoly game that they refused to leave their room for (I can dig that. Game on.) and Revi could not be bothered with sitting in a chair even when frozen berries were involved. SO. Family Breakfast ended up being Bo. And me. Which is better than me, myself and I, I guess.

"This like a party, Mom?" Bo said, cheers-ing her spoon with mine. "I'm a cowboy lady!"
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Day Three: 

I had high hopes for today because it was a Saturday and Hal was home, but once again, the twins were up before Archer and Fable and wanted breakfast two hours earlier than everyone else, and I was like, "but we're all going to eat together!" and Bo and Revi were like, "BUT WE'RE SO HUNGRY, PLEASE FEED US" and I was like... duh. Of course I'm going to feed you and then I started to question how this whole family breakfast together "thing" was even a thing. And then I fell asleep on the couch while Archer and Fable got their own breakfast and when I woke up, Hal was in the shower and I was like, COME ON, EVERYONE! WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A FAMILY BREAKFAST RIGHT NOW I DON'T CARE IF YOU'VE ALREADY HAD BREAKFAST!

And then?

Hal and I ate alone and Hal had shaving cream on his ear because I meant business and he was halfway through shaving his head and nobody else showed up so it was just us--and also the shaving cream on Hal's ear.
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Day Four: 
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I was up early this morning to get bagels and cook a REAL Father's Day breakfast for EVERYONE and NOBODY CAN EAT A THING UNTIL breakfast is served at the big table outside.

Fable set the table (she also made the breakfast menu and helped me with the shopping and designed the centerpiece) and Archer was on twin duty while Hal slept in.  I cooked up some eggs and turkey bacon (first time cooking it omg) and served up some fresh berries and bagels with cream cheese & lox.

I woke Hal up with a cup of coffee at 9:00am and we sat down to a table full of kids who had already eaten most of the berries and were serving each other eggs.
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And then we ate. Together. And it ruled. 
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Hal opened his cards at the table and we all listened as he read them aloud. Archer wrote an amazing poem, Bo and Revi scribbled something fierce and Fable's card (she picked it out) was just so good and perfect.
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(Inside it says, "I love you because you make me laugh and you're bald and make me dinner.)

This morning could not have been a bigger success. It was totally magical and Hal smiled a thousand times.

Day Five: 

Because yesterday was such a success I decided to keep the outside table set and invite the kids and Tamara to OUTSIDE BREAKFAST DAY TWO!

"Who's in!?"

Archer was the first to raise his hand, than Bo and finally Fable. (Revi wanted to ride her tricycle but at least she was there with us, riding around with her hands in the air.)

Today was the day I realized that this breakfast business is something I want to make a bonafide effort to accomplish, if not every day (that's never going to happen) twice a week at the very least. After the magic of yesterday and again, today. We talked all about Father's Day and what it means to friends of ours with two moms and Fable and Archer decided there should be a Brother's Day to celebrate brotherhood and a Sister's Day to celebrate sisterhood so I told them to come up with the dates and we will celebrate Sister's Day and Brother's Day from here on out and forevermore. (For anyone who wants to join us, Archer picked July 20th for Brother's Day and Fable picked December 6th to celebrate Sister's Day.)
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And, sure, that conversation may have happened at some point that wasn't the family breakfast, but in my head I kept thinking, what if it had never happened? There is a reason family meals are so important. There is not another time in the day when the family is seated together, FACE to face with nothing but the company of each another.

Anyway. Consider me in this to win this. This morning, like yesterday morning, set the tone for the entire day being awesome for all of us. Archer and Fable started camp and were in the BEST mood when I dropped them off, and again when Hal picked them up and Bo and Revi were total dreamboats. Red letter day!

Day Six: 
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It was my birthday today so I had an excuse, once again, to rally the troops to join me outside for breakfast. Which I didn't even really have to do because this has already become a sort of routine. We grabbed bowls and spoons from the kitchen and took our seats like, yeah, okay, this is what we do now... 
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My mom is also here and we had plans for brunch so instead of eating with the kids, we drank our coffee/my mom juggled 787987 babies on her lap while Archer and Fable caught her up on all of the things they've been up to lately.
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And everything was awesome.
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I felt grateful to be alive with the sun on my face and my family around me.

...And then later that evening, we sat down together again and had dinner.
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Day Seven: 

This morning marked our last Family Breakfast Challenge day. I was determined to go out with a BANG--or at the very least, something larger than a whimper--because Hal took off work today. (We're moments away from leaving the house to take the kids to Universal Studios since Hal got free passes through work and the kids have never been.)

Except when we rolled out of bed we realized that we were out of milk and cereal and Hal had to run to the store and by the time he got back, everyone was eating toast and/or finished eating their toast/running around outside with half eaten peaches in their hands.

You can't win them all, right?

In the meantime, I'm feeling pretty proud of us for pulling a 3/7. If every week we could pull off three family breakfast dates, I would be stoked, amazed and extremely proud. Thanks to The Family Breakfast Project for lighting the fire under my chair and getting us started. (For more on the Seven Day Challenge, including, ideas to help families sit down together in the morning, ho here.)
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What about you guys? Do you eat breakfast as a family? How often? What about other meals? Any advice to share on how to get families (like mine) eating together more often? Thanks in advance! You can also post your family breakfast stories with hashtag #familybreakfast. 

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