Iwake before the sun rises and slowly become aware of my body. I stretch and give thanks for the new day ahead of me. I drink a glass of room temperature water, wash my face, scrape my tongue and have a good crap. Next up I oil my entire body and then shower, all the time mindful of how I feel, how I think, how I breathe, how the water feels on my skin.
Time for exercise, so I run through several rounds of the Salute to the Sun, as the sun itself starts to cast its cool golden rays on my stretching limbs. From here, it’s natural to spend some time in pranayama, conscious breathing, and around twenty minutes of meditation.
Aaah. Breakfast. Fresh juice (thank you Oscar) and warm quinoa porridge with nuts, seeds and yoghurt. We eat mindfully but peacefully as a family, all together at the breakfast table, fresh flowers scenting the room. Then we walk, calmly, mindfully, down through town to drop James at the bus, smiling and waving at our neighbours, before taking the SP for a beautiful walk in nature.
Are your jaws on the floor yet? Are you chewing at my jugular? Relax. This is the moment where, were this a film, there would be a screeching noise and someone would yell “CUT!”. Is that my morning routine? Is it heck! That is how the ayurvedic sages say I should start my day – and, oh my, how I wish I could.
But the ayurvedic sages don’t have to juggle family and work, do they? Complacent bastards. Shall we take a look at what really happened this morning?
6am and Adrian’s revolting phone ring-tone drags me out of sleep. Yes, it’s still dark but, as I become aware of my body, I realise it is tired, verging on exhausted. Am I feeling grateful? Nope, I’m feeling close to murderous.
I resist the urge to fling a punch and grit my teeth. ‘Not really.’
He looks puzzled. ‘Did I snore?’
No, dear, but you did a good impersonation of a large pugnacious brewery throughout the night – thrashing around, holding surreal conversations with nobody in particular and exuding enough fumes to set fire to a small conurbation. But there’s no time to go into that as we have to run around like the Keystone Kops cooking breakfast, making industrial strength coffee, trying to make space on the breakfast table to put a plate, trying to find the lost scrum-cap, the mislaid compass, the god knows what else. Meanwhile James has his laptop out and is typing and swearing.
‘You’re not on Facebook? For pity’s sake, not now?’ I say, glaring unayurvedically.
‘No, actually. I’m doing my homework, alright?’ He says, in a very snippy pitta-ish fashion.
What? ‘But you were up until 10pm doing it last night!’ Me, flying off the handle vata-fashion.
‘I forgot this bit.’
Even putting aside the fecking ayurvedic sages, I have this dream of a calm family breakfast, the kind you see on the adverts, the kind (come to think of it) we have when we go to stay with my MIL in Wales. The table is set, with a tablecloth and bowls and plates and things. There’s a toast rack and marmalade and jam. Radio 4 is playing in the background and a cooked breakfast is sizzling in the pan (even though I don't eat it). Proper breakfast.
We talked about this, when I went up to London earlier this week for a presentation by Kellogg’s – about how so few children actually have any kind of breakfast at all, let alone with toast racks and table cloths.
* One in seven children don’t eat breakfast and, by the time they get to secondary school, one in five don’t eat it.
* One in four girls say they skip breakfast because they’re dieting.
* Children in the UK spend £650 million buying food on the way to school and that food tends to be crisps, chocolate and, bleeugh, burgers – yup, if they’re eating breakfast, they’re eating junk food breakfast. Great eh?
* Of those who don’t eat breakfast, a third won’t eat or drink anything until lunchtime.
Now, I’m not the best of example of sensible eating but I do know that children need fuelling if they are going to learn. Kellogg’s had some research on this too (and yeah, yeah, I know they sell breakfast cereals for a living but the statistics behind this seem as firm as statistics ever can be)…
Children who skip breakfast are:
- * More likely to be obese
- * Less likely to enjoy school
- * Less likely to perform well in work or play
- * More likely to snack during the day
At the presentation we talked about breakfast clubs, something (I’ll be honest) I hadn’t really given much thought. Because Adrian and I work from home, we’ve never needed to use one. But it seems they do have benefits. According to the Kellogg's research they:
• Improve attendance and punctuality
• Improve concentration in class
• Improve behaviour in class
• Improve relationships between teachers and pupils
• Improve educational attainment
• Provide breakfast for those children that don’t get it at home
• Provide essential and affordable childcare for working parents.
Since the cuts, many schools have been struggling to keep clubs going and Kellogg’s are fronting a campaign called Help Give a Child a Breakfast in which, for every box of Cornflakes you buy, they donate to a Breakfast Club Trust. Schools can apply for grants (it’s a one-page application) - check out this page.
Now I’ve always been a bit sniffy about Cornflakes and commercial breakfast cereals in general but it seems I may need to eat my words, or at least chew them a little. But, hey, I’m not in the mood for eating humble pie right now so let’s talk about that another time, alright?
For now, let’s just say our breakfasts aren’t exactly calm and peaceful; they certainly aren’t remotely ayurvedic but at least James has a breakfast. Do you make sure your children have a decent breakfast? Do you know a school that could benefit from having a breakfast club? If so, maybe nudge them in the direction of the website – and urge them to set up a club.