The breakfast ordeal

The breakfast ordeal


I’m on the road this week. I’ve been in Lake Tahoe, Chico, the Redwoods, San Fransisco, and Palo Alto. I am currently sitting in majestic Yosemite. Even on a camping trip breakfast and dinner are ‘an ordeal.’ This might seem over the top; I’ve been told I was a perfectionist, that I intimidate people with my food and table style, but quite frankly it is a trick I learned growing up in a family of eleven. Having organized meals with a set table makes life easier not harder.

Can you imagine eleven kids making their own breakfast? Oh please help… I can’t even imagine the kitchen; bowls, cereal, some spilled milk, Nutella knives, jam, butter and a mess everywhere. I doubt any of us would clean to my Mom’s standard and it would have just caused fights. “Who left the milk out?” I know the answer to that…it would be the famous nobody that lives with every big family. I remember sitting at the table in my nightgown as my older siblings prepared to head out to High School. I thought they were glamorous and quietly listened as they talked about boys, girls, their homework, and dilemmas. It was one of the best parts of my day. I loved coming sleepy eyed into the kitchen with all the teens hustling and bustling around me, forgetting their little sister was there. My Mom lived in a bathrobe in the morning just making sure we all got the food we needed, the attention we needed and out the door.

My Mom set the table because ‘grazing’ as she called it was not only unhealthy but unmanageable with eleven kids. Breakfast was at 6:45 Monday through Friday and on the weekend she woke us for breakfast. I do the same and guess what, my kids like it, just like I did. Once a week I make pancakes or french toast. 

There is a yoga class at 7 am I would love to take. I don’t because this ritual is too important to me. The two kids left at home are 16 and 14; certainly old enough to manage on their own but I love this time with them and would not give it up for a yoga class and if I need to miss it another adult is there.


As I moved on and studied, I found her practice was recommended by pediatricians, psychologists and social workers around the world. One of the first things I ask a family in trouble is, "Tell me about your meals." Eating together is a time to connect, to talk, to share healthy food and trust me…. it is a lot easier to manage than the mess of grazing.

—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife