Have you devoured the first season of This Is Us yet? If not, I highly recommend a binge-watch. But be warned: You're going to want to upgrade your breakfasts. And maybe your family relationships. And definitely your wardrobe if you, like me, are entranced by '70s Mandy Moore's entire closet.
But let's stay on topic! Past or present, the Pearsons always connect at breakfast. They have rituals, important conversations, and waffles piled high with toppings. They have retro cereals, big hugs, and plenty of coffee. After watching season one, I want that too. My mornings are a weird tornado where I resist order and inhale caffeine. This Is Us made me wonder how I could make my breakfasts a little more special and connected.
Get ready for season two, which kicks off on September 26 (that's today!), and start revamping your breakfasts with six lessons inspired by This Is Us.
1. Schedule your joy around the breakfast table.
Watching the three kids in This Is Us crowd around their dad as he announces "morning hugs!" reminded me of the benefit of rituals: they schedule joy. The Pearsons got it right. From the Big Three chant to a family bear hug, they're guaranteeing that each day has 60 seconds of happiness. Planting those moments at the very beginning of the day, right around the breakfast table, seems like a good way to lift everyone's mood before they go out into the world.
Okay, so I'm not a triplet and I don't live in a '70s flashback where I can throw my arms around Milo Ventimiglia. But there are so many other things to ritualize and celebrate: one minute of quiet gratitude and coffee-slurping, a donut with my husband every Tuesday, or taking five minutes to sit down during breakfast. Morning hugs sound pretty solid too.
2. Start the day with conversation.
We always talk about the conversations that can happen at the family dinner table, but why not prioritize a little family chatting in the morning when everyone isn't wiped out and ready to wind down? When Randall wants to apologize to his family and announce that he's going to start taking piano lessons, he does it at breakfast — a time where he can guarantee that everyone will be there.
It's so easy to zone out on my inbox and phone in the mornings and not even take a few minutes to connect. So a couple times a week, I'm instituting phone-free breakfast where we can have some real conversation before the day starts. It doesn't have to be an intense discussion. This can just be a way to guarantee that no matter what happens that day, you've made a connection with the people you love.
3. Make intense conversations better with coffee.
If you they're going to have an intense a.m. conversation, the Pearsons follow a solid rule: Pair it with coffee. Hospital conversations happens with coffee, brotherly conversations happen with coffee, biological dad conversations happens with coffee, and the grownup Big Three discuss their various issues over coffees. Make sure everyone is alert and properly caffeinated before you dig into the real stuff in the morning.
4. Embrace just-because breakfast in bed.
I know, isn't breakfast in bed reserved for Mother's Day? Is it even legal the other 364 days of the year?
Kate inspired me when she brought Tobey breakfast in bed. It wasn't wacky elaborate or precious — it was just a healthy meal served on a tray, and it looked so luxurious. Even though he didn't love the food, everyone loves being a little pampered.
Your breakfast in bed can just be toast and jam, or a few cups of coffee and an orange to peel while you drink it. Enjoying, and gifting, those extra minutes in bed with a treat is the ultimate way to add some bliss to your day.
5. Have all the toppings.
At William's memorial, Kevin eyes the waffle bar that Annie and Tess have set up and asks "I want all the toppings, are toppings disrespectful?" Randall replies "Top away."
It's so easy to fall into a grab-and-go breakfast rut. I know I've cozied up to a piece of peanut butter toast more mornings than not. But once in awhile, an easy way to make breakfast special and interactive is to make it buffet-style, with plenty of toppings. This doesn't even have to be unhealthy. What about a big chaotic swirl of almond butter, fruit, toasted coconut, and jam on top of a bowl of yogurt? Or whole-wheat pancakes with three kinds of berries? When I was a kid and I slept over at my grandparents' house, they always had five boxes of cereal. It was just cereal and milk, but the options made it special.
Take a lesson from Kevin, Annie, and Tess — set out some toppings and don't be afraid to dig in.
6. Celebrate the everyday.
There are few cuter scenes than Annie and Tess introducing William's memorial, and how Annie's little face lights up when she announces "He looooved breakfast." It was such a simple breakfast. In scenes throughout the show, William wasn't staring down a serious waffle spread. He was typically just eating some fruit and toast, or drinking a juice to go with his pills.
These everyday moments are a gift. Fruit and toast, everyone at the age they are now, your family at this exact moment, who you are on this day in your life — savor it. Enjoy your everyday juice, your breakfast hugs, your seat at the table. Enjoy the meal you eat each morning as you're given a fresh start.