Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Lovely and Useful Tradition of Elevenses

The girls and I recently decided to add that delightful British custom of elevenses to our schedule most days. I say "most days" because one really can't support a break when one has only worked since 9:30 or 10.

A more traditional tea time doesn't work for us because our afternoons are busy with activities and Miss Priss's math lessons at the tutoring center. Even so, I find that a break around 11 AM is best for us. Elevenses allow us to refresh ourselves, refocus our efforts, and reframe our day, if need be.

Everyone is ready for a cup of tea and a snack by 11 o'clock. Our blood sugar needs a boost and our minds need a break. But what to nibble, you ask? Traditionally, it's something sweet: a slice of cake, a few cookies, a scone. I rarely have cake in the house and as for scones, well. . . . So we opt for cookies, but we keep a few varieities for elevenses only, such as Biscoff, McVitie's or Burton's rich tea biscuits, Jammie Dodgers (also from the UK but available at my Publix grocery), or a special cookie from Trader Joe's. If you'd like to do a little more, has a page of recipes for elevenses. The Squidgy Chocolate Muffins look tasty. And what a great name!

During elevenses, we go over our day's schedule and check everyone's progress thus far. If someone is straggling, this is a good time to point out what needs to be done and when. We also lay out a general plan for the rest of the day, including time to visit with friends or enjoy a favorite craft. Often, this spurs a straggler on to complete her work in a timely manner. If the day is nice, one or both of my girls may decide to take her remaining readings en plein air.

We may find that circumstances dictate a reframing of our day. A gift of beautiful weather means that Tiny Girl will want to spend more time at the barn. An unexpected invitation leads to an assignment being  postponed until evening. My work schedule may change. We talk about these things at elevenses.

As the girls grow and mature, they will begin to work more independently. A break for elevenses in those years will mean a chance to touch base with one another, to talk about our day's work, to discuss points of interest and points of concern. I look forward to that.

For now, the girls mainly look forward to a break and a snack. And that's wonderful. I can ponder the fine points of elevenses and what they mean to the flow of our days.

Photo credit: H is for Home / / CC BY-NC


  1. Oh yes - elevenses is an institution at our house too. The Scots often have a pancake and jam with their morning tea, which is nice.

  2. What a revolutionary idea! I'm adapting it to fit our schedules. My kids will love it!

  3. I think this is such a sweet idea -- I'm stealing it, ok? ;-)

    I'm making some "SKOR Bits" this afternoon and I think they will be great for just this purpose this week!


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