“I just don’t have time for breakfast,” a mom recently declared.
“Are you sure?” I inquired.
“Well, by the time I prepare an allergy-friendly meal for kid #1 (gluten-free, no nuts, no dairy, no fruits containing a stone…), set out medicine and a very different breakfast for kid #2 (who is super picky and must follow a special diet due to a health condition), I have to run up and get dressed for work.” She defended.
“Let me ask you this,” I said. “If you had another kid, would you feed her breakfast?”
“Of course!” she replied emphatically. But then, she paused and kind of chuckled as she reflected on the question and its implications.
Of course we wouldn’t choose to starve that extra kid, but why then do parents like us so often choose to neglect ourselves – in one way or another – without thinking twice? Maybe we figure if something’s gotta give, the only acceptable place to cut is from our own needs. Or perhaps we feel guilty when we think about caring for ourselves.
Whatever the reason, I like to play this game of imagining I had to substitute myself for another child. It reveals all kinds of interesting gaps in logic, like the idea that skipping breakfast is ok for yourself, but not for the kids. Sure they’re growing, but we need sustenance to stay strong.
I’m a big believer in breakfast (even though I used to skip mine, just like my friend). I have also become obsessed with all the new research on the human gut microbiome and how those microbes living inside us play a crucial role in our immunity, digestion, brain function, and overall health. What we eat affects our gut health. So when I began playing the “if I were another kid” game, I realized that making myself breakfast was an important act of self-care.
I began experimenting with recipes that my kids would like, but that would also fit my preferences. Among the greatest hits are Green Eggs (recipe below). The color is a bright electric green, which kids love. And they deliver a dose of green veggies to start the day right (you can hardly taste the greens, I swear!). If you want to get fancy, top them off with avocado slices or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast to pack in your B vitamins.
Beyond breakfast, I have noticed that many parents like us look for an afternoon burst of energy from sugar or caffeine, when what we really need is something that will provide balanced energy over a longer period. 3pm was always the time of day when I felt most exhausted (other than when the alarm went off in the morning!). I was good about grabbing a snack for my kids as we dashed to activities or appointments, but I didn’t bring anything for myself.
The solution for me was what my friend calls my “purse nuts”. I buy a big bag of raw almonds and portion them into small bags to throw into my purse. Sometimes I get creative and mix in some walnuts or pepita seeds – or goji berries. Another mom I know keeps her favorite power bars right in her car. Having a snack on hand has saved me from making lots of bad choices. (I’ve been known to snarf down a muffin at the coffee shop near the therapist’s office, even though I’m gluten intolerant and have a hard time processing all that sugar!) Purse nuts have kept me from sinking into that lethargic pre-dinner funk that doesn’t mix well with tired kids.
So you see, self-care is as simple as feeding yourself breakfast, or packing a snack to carry you through the day. Give yourself that sustenance boost!
Green Eggs Recipe
kale or spinach (a handful, or about four large kale leaves)
pinch of sea salt
oil of your choice (about 1 Tbsp. – I use coconut)
1. Place eggs and kale or spinach in blender and blend on high until smooth.
2. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat.
3. Add eggs and scramble until desired doneness. (The way these cook reminds me a bit of homemade playdough; at first it looks like they aren’t cooking, but suddenly they solidify!)
4. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Optional: Top with avocado or nutritional yeast. (My boys like Frank’s RedHot Sauce)