Serving Breakfast in Bed: A Father’s Guide

Anna Reeves Jarvis was the mother of Mother’s Day. On May 10, 1908, she held a memorial service honoring her mother at Andrews Methodist Church (now the International Mother’s Day Shrine) in Grafton, W.Va. She then embarked on a campaign to make Mother’s Day a recognized holiday.

The following year, Mother’s Day services were held in 45 states, plus Canada and Mexico. In 1910, West Virgina made it a state holiday. And on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a Congressional joint resolution proclaiming the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day, “as a public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of our country.”

Jarvis incorporated the Mother’s Day International Association, established the white carnation as the symbol of the occasion and trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day.” And she was adamant about that punctuation. It’s not plural or plural possessive, vaguely commemorating all mothers. “Mother’s” is singular possessive because it’s about honoring your specific mother.

Jarvis’s intent notwithstanding, if you’re the father of young children and domestic tranquility is something you value, you better also honor their mother.

Each mom has her own concept of the ideal day. So there’s no one-size-fits-all way to plan the perfect Mother’s Day, other than making sure the focus remains on what makes her happy, whether it’s spa treatments or skydiving.

Wherever the day takes her, it all starts with breakfast. If mama wants to go out to brunch, take her. But when you have young kids, staying in bed is probably more relaxing. Assuming you don’t have an in-home prime rib carving station and Bloody Mary bar, here’s how to serve breakfast in bed without completely botching it.

  1. Hopefully, there’s some overlap on the Venn diagram of what Mom likes for breakfast and what you’re capable of making. The operative word there is “making;” you’re not dazzling anybody by pouring milk over cereal or microwaving frozen pancakes. French toast is usually a good choice; so is this frittata. Don’t be intimidated by the name; “frittata” sounds more impressive than “omelette,” in much the same way that “polenta” sounds fancier than “grits,” but it’s easy to make. Whatever you decide to whip up, if a bunch of ingredients need to be chopped, do it the night before.
  2. Involve the kids in ways that won’t start fires or lead to ER visits. My son’s specialties, for example, are cracking eggs and pouring syrup on things — sometimes even on things that should be covered in syrup. An older kid could be in charge of making fresh-squeezed orange juice or a yogurt parfait with granola and berries.
  3. Don’t forget the coffee in her favorite Tervis mug, with a lid to prevent spills en route to the bedroom or in bed. Otherwise, only fill about two-thirds of her cup and pour the rest of the pot into a carafe.
  4. You’ll need a way to carry the food from the kitchen to the bedroom. If you don’t have a serving tray, make one out of a picture frame (maybe even displaying family photos and handwritten notes inside), or a suitcase top covered in strips of wallpaper, or even a cardboard box covered in fabric. At a bare minimum, spread out a nice tablecloth to catch crumbs.
  5. Little touches go a long way. Instead of a paper napkin, fold a cloth napkin.
  6. Place a single flower into a small vase, or just lay it flat on the tray. Or sprinkle flower petals on the tray.
  7. Don’t just plop the tray down on the bed. Fluff those pillows so that she can sit up and eat comfortably. If the tray has legs, straightening the comforter will allow them to rest evenly.
  8. Bring in the morning paper and put on some background music or give her the remote.
  9. Get out of the room and let her enjoy her meal in peace. Maybe run a bath for her while she eats.
  10. Feed the kids, take the tray when she’s finished, clean the kitchen and do all of the dishes — and all of the other housework that day. Tired? Don’t worry; Father’s Day is just around the corner.

— Matt Rehm