How I Transformed My Mornings
“I Run My Kitchen Like a Restaurant”
Susan Wilson, 55Scottsdale, Arizona
Mother of Mark Robinson, 13 (shown); Riley Robinson, 11
Breakfast used to be a battleground in Susan Wilson’s house, which guaranteed a challenging morning for this divorced mother of two. Her sons, Mark and Riley, would ask for two totally different dishes or want something she couldn’t prepare in a reasonable amount of time. Or Susan would spend about 20 minutes urging them to eat something substantial. “Both of them exert a lot of energy playing football, so it’s important to me that they start their day with something in their stomachs besides a dry bagel on the way to the bus stop,” says Susan, a public-relations executive.
Last year, Bill Lynch, Susan’s boyfriend, made an observation about Susan’s self-described “morning calamity.” Gently pointing out that she was acting like a short-order cook, taking arbitrary breakfast orders as they came in from the boys, Bill made a suggestion. “He said that if I ran my kitchen like a restaurant with one daily special, it would take all the indecision out of our morning,” says Susan.
Shortly thereafter, “the Chicken Coop Café,” named after Susan’s beloved collection of chicken figurines, opened from 6:15 to 6:45 each weekday morning. Before every school quarter, the boys help Susan create a menu of daily specials, which she displays on the wall of the kitchen. She cooks one hot dish each day (such as waffles, scrambled eggs, or a turkey, bacon, and cheese sandwich), but miso soup “for international palates” is also available on request.
Like diners at any eating establishment, the boys must follow the house rules to get service. “No pajamas. They need to be dressed and have shoes on. And they can’t be grouchy,” says Susan. Once they’re finished eating, the boys bus the table, which includes pouring leftover water into the houseplants and scattering bread crusts for the quail in the yard.
Susan doesn’t mind waking up a little early to do kitchen prep before the restaurant opens, but she insists that it close promptly at 6:45. “Having a set time for the end of breakfast is key,” says Susan. “No last-minute rush for gathering schoolwork and permission slips. That makes the morning less stressful for them and makes it a breeze for me.”
Have a morning strategy of your own to share? To exchange ideas with other Real Simple readers, click here.
Next: You Might Also Like...
Most Popular Galleries
“Ever had nasty words spread about you at work? And were those words published as front-page news in Politico, with your colleagues describing you as “a source of widespread frustration and anxiety,”...”
If you loved the following eight celebrity couples’ weddings, you’ll...
from The Nest Blog » house & home
Sierra Leone voted to pass a new amendment to its health act, imposing possible...
If you've added walk-in closets, home offices, and eat-in kitchens to your ...
from POPSUGAR Home
Mike Francesa, a radio host on New York City's WFAN, is never short on opi...
from Tastepartner on The Huffington Post
from HuffPost Home - The Huffington Post
When September comes into view, I have to admit I get a bit excited — OK, a lo...