Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chronically Sick Homeschool Mama: Makes Breakfast

source - wikicommons; Public Domain

I want to write useful information on this blog… both spiritually and practically useful. So, I am going to write some specific posts about what it looks like to be a homeschool mama when you are sick… and I mean really sick. (Though, these lessons could be applied to times of morning sickness as well as the chronic illness that I have suffered from.) Beginning with - HOW to make/manage breakfast when you are a sick homeschool mama.

(The following post was originally written in November 2013. I was sick then, but I became far more disabled before my remission in Spring 2014).

Right now, I am in a season of watching my big girl (age 11) make breakfast for our tribe. But, for years I suffered the horrible daily task of facing a hungry mob of kids age 4 and under who really could not do much for themselves. And, my list excludes store bought cereal because my kids respond so violently to refined sugar and grains. But, if cereal works for your family – by all means, utilize every short cut you can!

(Regarding food sensitivities and childrens’ behavior. It certainly appears, from scholarly research and my own life experience, that some food sensitivities cause behavioral issues with some children. I encourage you to keep a food journal and write down the food you and the kiddoes eat and your reactions to them. In my home, we found that certain grains make one of my boys present with all the appearances of ADHD. Being a sick mama with sick kiddoes is a whole ‘nother blog post… But, suffice it to say, do what you can within reason to keep your kiddoes well as much as is in your power.)

-         Pray and ask the Lord to show you what to make your kids for breakfast. Seriously. God wants you to involve Him in your life. He will answer you if you take time to ask and listen.
-         Plain yogurt with drizzle of honey or healthy jelly. Add fresh fruit on the side.
-         Oatmeal is your best friend. You (or your husband) can pre-make it the night before in a baked oatmeal recipe. You can throw together oatmeal “slop” even on your worst morning. (By slop, I mean plain old boring oatmeal. Use two cups of water to every one cup of rolled oats. Add a pinch of salt to the mix and cook on low.) For mama and six kids I make 4 cups of oatmeal with 8 cups water. When there were only a few kiddoes and they were smaller, I got by with two cups of oats. Add raisins, nuts, seeds, real maple syrup, or all kinds of goodies to spruce it up.
-         Eggs are a good go-to breakfast as well. You can scramble them fairly easily. And, really, cooking up a quiche is not all that more intensive than scrambling eggs. In fact, I think I prefer the quiche. Whisk the eggs, dump ‘em in the pie plate and cook ‘em. I cannot always add veggies, because most days these past few years I cannot cut vegetables, because my hand/forearm muscles do not function well. Buy pre-shredded cheese and add 1-2 cups in with the eggs. Or, if you feel like you have the strength to clean up the mess, have your kids shred the cheese… but I do not exactly “recommend” this.
-         Smoothies. Buy bananas on sale and freeze them with the peels off in a freezer bag. Buy frozen fruit. You can use store bought yogurt, store bought kefir, or pure fruit juices to mix in with the frozen fruit to make a smoothie. (If you are a truly sick mama, this is not the season of your life to try to make your own yogurt or kefir. Sure it might be “easy.” But, do you really need one more iron in the fire right now? Will the benefits or making your own truly outweigh the cost to your body and mind to make yourself feel like you need to make your own?)
-         If you have a condition that goes into “remission,” or you have some good months, consider freezer cooking during your good months. Just don’t overdo it, Mama! I know the temptation… you have one good day and you overdo it so much that you are laid up for the next three days… don’t do it, Friend, unless you have several consecutive MONTHS of health and wellness. Muffins, breads, and waffles have been a great freezer breakfast for my family.
-         During times when I felt less sick, I would make “hash” with sausage, store bought “southern style” potatoes, and scrambled eggs. 
-     Take a walk through the freezer section at your local grocery store. Those pre-made sandwiches look scrumptious! I never bought any, because it was cost prohibitive. But, it might work for some incomes.
-         Who says breakfast has to be “breakfast” foods?! Give the kids (preservative free) lunch meat and cheese roll-ups with a can of fruit. Heat up rice and beans (or any leftovers!) from last night’s dinner.
-         Jesus ate fish for breakfast (at least on one occasion). Cook up some salmon in the skillet. (This is one of our regular breakfasts nowadays).
-         If you have the money, consider buying healthy granola bars. Or, if you know you feel better in the afternoon than in the morning, make your own bars to eat tomorrow morning.
-         Natural peanut butter or almond butter and healthy jelly on healthy bread/toast. There were months on end that I can remember giving the kids peanut butter on Nature’s Own whole wheat bagels. The children started making this for themselves as early as age 4. Add a banana or an apple and it seems like a well-balanced meal to me! There were a few years the children and I nearly lived on frozen waffles and peanut butter for breakfast. It wasn’t ideal… but I had to do what I had to do.

I think one of the most important starting points is get the preconceived notions about “what a good mom gives her kids for breakfast” out of your head! You know your limits. No one else knows how you feel. You need to feed your children as well as you can with the resources you have (both financial and physical!). Ask the Lord to show you what you can and cannot do in terms of physical strength. Trust me, I speak from experience, the Lord would rather you feed the kids store bought cereal every day than wear yourself out by making an elaborate feast that will leave you depleted and open to the temptation to yell, curse, criticize, make mountains out of molehills, or whatever your vice is.

Don’t let yourself be bullied into making meals beyond your ability because you feel like it is what you are “supposed to” do! Too many moms are trying to live up to these expectations – most of which are unrealistic lies from the Enemy sent to destroy us.

What does the Lord say?

Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife. Prov 17:1 (NASB77)

If you are hearing thoughts of condemnation because you did not make a “complete, balanced” breakfast that compares to a magazine cover, that is NOT the voice/thoughts of God!

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NASB77)

God’s primary concern is not what specific foods you give your children for breakfast, but rather your attitude while you serve them. Do you love your children? There are some mamas who put themselves under great strain trying to create the perfect diet for their kids, but in reality, doughnuts served with love and a smile would be healthier for your kids than eggs and turkey sausage served with a grimace and a side of discontentment and grumbling.

I hope you hear my heart on this. I can see times in the last ten years where I did very well. And, I see times where I was feasting with strife. I just want to caution and encourage other sick mamas from the trenches. I’ve been there. I am there now. But, fortunately, we made it through the days of having 4 kids age 5 and under. And, they all lived to tell about it. None of my kids lose sleep at night having nightmares about the days they used to eat frozen store bought waffles every morning for breakfast. Seriously. BUT, there have been seasons where my SuperMom gene was going strong and I tried to make elaborate whole food feasts that ended with kids and mama all screaming and/or crying. We do remember those days. Thank God that even those memories, when viewed through the proper lenses, do not bring condemnation. (Or, if they do, it is not from the Lord, and we can tell Condemnation to “take a hike.”) Your kids will remember that you served them as well as you can in your sickness. That is enough.

One last thought – your children are following your example, whether you want them to or not. Do you want your children to serve breakfast to their future families in the same manner that you do? There is time to change. Start today. Ask the Lord for wisdom and knowledge. He will hear you. He will answer you.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5 (NASB77)

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