My Great Idea: Back to School Breakfast

I love the summer months, when I am essentially worry-free about getting my kids dressed, fed, and out the door on time at an early hour. Although some days are an exception, the summer is a free-for-all where sometimes even Mom gets a few extra hours of sleep.

For years it was difficult to make the switch from summer vacation to the "early to bed, early to rise" school routine. The first day of school would always go great - my kids and I used the adrenaline we had from the excitement of the new school year to get us through. But a day or two later, we found ourselves already struggling. Seven in the morning is a far cry from nine, especially when you have three kids to get ready who aren't particularly keen on getting up.

Several years ago I was searching for ways to help beat the beginning-of-the-school-year blues when a neighbor told me about her idea for a neighborhood "back-to-school breakfast." Instead of starting off the school year on the first day by suddenly getting up early, she said we could all start the school year schedule a week early. I jumped at the chance!

When my kids first heard the idea, they cringed - I became the mom who was cutting out a week of precious summer sleeping. But once I explained to them that we were going to have great foods - like doughnuts, French toast, or cinnamon rolls - and that their friends would be there, too, they quickly jumped on board.

Here's how we did it: Beginning the Monday before school started, all the neighborhood kids (and their parents) woke up at 7 a.m. and got ready as if they were starting the day and heading out to school. We rotated the breakfast between houses so that no particular person was bearing the brunt of the expenses. In the years since we started, as the idea spread to the greater neighborhood, we limited each group of breakfast eaters to six houses (leaving Sunday for a family breakfast).

Providing a fun, early morning breakfast has given my kids a definite incentive to get up before their usual summertime schedule. Now, by the time school starts, my kids and I are accustomed to waking earlier, and many of the struggles from previous years have been eliminated - not to mention we're all well fed and energized!

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