As a working mom, I get it. Work/school mornings are the worst!
In my case, I have a 2 year old who goes to daycare. He is not quite in school yet, but we still refer to his daycare as “school” since it is very much the similar lifestyle he will be encountering from here on out and for the next 16 years!
There is nothing more difficult to me than having to get up early in the morning and try to get us out the door without forgetting any needed items, not to mention, getting us to school/work on time! Anyone else out there feel me? Yeah….I’m sure you do!
I am always open to any advice that anyone has to offer, but here is what I have found to be most helpful. Maybe it will help you, too!
The Night Before….
Do as much as you can the night before!
I get it. You worked hard all day, attended to every demand that your supervisor, family member and spouse has served you. Picked up the kids and got everyone home safely, car unloaded and all! You are exhausted. Too tired to even make dinner…
Try this, though! While you are making dinner, make extra so that you have leftovers and use those for lunch the next day!
I set out my son’s bowls for daycare and, after I serve him dinner, I add “leftovers” to his daycare dishes. I label them, put the lids on and put them in the fridge for the next day.
I also take this time to prepare his snacks for daycare while he is eating. Don’t forget to prepare lunch for yourself, too, for tomorrow!
Another tip: while dinner is cooking, do up the dishes as you go along! That way, you will not be stuck dreading dish duty later on!
Am I a bad mommy for not eating dinner with my son? No.
Although our society highly encourages eating dinner as a family, I see this as a way to get caught up so that I can spend more one-on-one time with my son after dinner and after lunches have been prepared for the next day. Then we can run around and play or I can take him outside after and spend the quality time I need to then.
During the Night
Can’t sleep because of a restless mind?
There is nothing worse (okay, maybe there are other things worse than this!) than trying to fall asleep and your mind racing with thoughts about the day and thoughts about what still needs to be done!
Or, in my case, I fall asleep okay, but when I get up to go to the bathroom, I can’t fall back asleep!
Try this, though! Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside so that you can write down any nagging thoughts that come to you.
It is especially helpful when you are trying to remember everything that you need to get done the next day!
If you do not like to write like us old-fashioned ones do, then you can start a notepad in your phone and type your thoughts in. WARNING: If you unlock your phone though, you may be in for a longer night because it can be hard not to check that email that just came in or those late night text messages! I still recommend a notepad and pen!
If you still cannot sleep, just remember how productive you are during the day! It may be hard to lay there and think about all of the things that still need to be done, but tomorrow, you’ll take care of it! No worries! You will find a way to get it done! So, just rest! You need your sleep for the next day!
The Next Morning
Stupid alarm clock!
Once that thing goes off, that’s it!
You are on the clock and your count down begins at that moment!
If you can do yourself a favor and get up before the kids do, life is a little easier!
This way, you can focus on what needs to be done and you do not have to worry about the kids hollering or needing something in the background of your mind.
Get yourself ready first!
This way, you have a little time for yourself and make certain you are dressed and ready to go the way that you want to be, not the way that time has dictated you to be. In other words, I would rather go out the door with my hair combed nicely rather than a quick brush through!
What really has to be done this morning?
Do you really need to do those dishes in the sink or can they wait until tonight when you are doing the dinner dishes?
Do you really have to throw in that load of laundry or can it wait until you get home?
Don’t do any more than you absolutely have to do!
You have to get yourself ready. You have to load up the car. You have to get the kids up and dressed. If you have the energy to make them breakfast, more power to ya! My son gets breakfast in the car on the way to school! (More about that in a bit!)
If you are someone who can get up an extra 15 minutes early, this makes all the difference in the world!
If you are someone like me who tends to get up 15 minutes late, then you really need to prioritize and make life as simple as possible in the morning.
The one thing that I cannot stand about myself in the morning is that, if I am running behind, I get mean.
Not like. “monster mean” where I am going to beat someone, but just not very nice.
And I hate myself for that.
I really do.
I do not know if anyone else out there feels the same way, but I hate yelling at my son and being short with him and then rushing him out the door!
Then I have to go all day without seeing him because I have to fulfill demands of an employer that could care less about me and my family.
To me, this is the worst part of being a working mom.
Taking my anger out on my son.
Now, I don’t hit him or nothing, (so don’t think you have to call CPS on me!) but I do yell and raise my voice, brush off his interests and rush him out the door.
Since I was laid off, I really realized this about myself and I tell myself that I am going to do my very best not to do that to him anymore. He is just a little 2 year old! It is not his fault that I have to fulfill the demands of society just so that him and I can simply live.
And, as I write this, I am starting to tear up because I feel as though it is one of my biggest regrets in life. Taking my frustrations out on him just because I struggle to get us out the door in time.
I wonder, if any other parent feels this way? Or if it is just normal to yell at your kids and that is just the way life is?
And what does that teach my son?
When I look back on my own childhood, I remember my parents rushing us kids out the door. They were so unhappy. And it made me feel unhappy. I remember it setting up my day for just plain old sadness. I remember missing my parents while at school and just felt so sad all day.
I don’t want that for my son!
He wakes up so happy in the morning and I want to keep that same smile on his face all day long!
So, if we run a little behind now, I don’t care. I just simply don’t care.
We still seem to manage to make it within a 10 minute span, but at least I wasn’t yelling at him or making him feel worthless as we were leaving each other for the day.
My job and following the rules there are important, but my son comes first. And if someone is going to make a stink over a lousy 10 minutes (20 minutes, sure!) then this world has truly gone to hell because what we actually value today is not at all what we should be valuing. Okay, that’s just my thought on that!
Anyways, on the way to daycare, I try to talk/sing with him as much as possible and make funny noises as I am making left-hand turns with the car. And he laughs!
At drop off, I try to make it as quick and as light as possible and remind him of the fun he is going to have.
If I walk into work a little late (not a lot late because then it would be an issue!) then I try to make up that time by taking a bit of a shorter lunch or work a little bit later. I suppose it depends on your employer. If you have a boss that is a real stickler on time, I guess you need to make a choice on how to manage this without making yourself feel sad/guilty like I have felt. Either find another job that allows for you to be a tiny bit more laxed on time (right, Angela, easier said that done!) or try to get up a little bit earlier and plan to leave the house a little bit earlier so that if you do go out the door late, you still go out on time! For example, if I have to leave the house by 7:00am, I plan my morning so that I plan to leave at 6:45am. This way, if I do get out the door late, I am still getting out on time!
Let me say one thing about breakfast: it is time consuming.
Important, but time consuming!
Who the heck has time to stand there and fry up eggs and bacon and butter up some toast? (Okay, some of you do, I’m sure and kudos to you for that because I think that that is really admirable as a working parent if you can do that!) I don’t have the time or the mental stretch to do that, even though I would like to.
What I am about to share with you may make some ruffles with y’all, but when you are a working parent trying to get out the door, you will do what you can to make life easier!
First off, before I tell you this, I make certain to pack a very healthy lunch and snacks for my son so that he is eating right throughout the day!
And I also aim to make healthy dinners!
With that being said, my son gets ice cream, cookies or popsicles for breakfast on the way to school.
Yup! I just said that!
“But, but, Angela….that’s not healthy! That’s not going to nourish his brain for the day! That’s not giving his body the nutrients he needs to start his day off right!”
Ahhh….no, it is not healthy, but when you think of it, children receive ice cream or cookies at other times throughout the day, right?
I have just reversed it so that my son gets it for breakfast, but not at all the rest of the day.
Sort of like, dessert first!
Okay….now don’t walk away from my blog here just yet! Let me explain…
The last thing my son wants to do is get in the car to go to daycare. This just creates more havoc in the morning with trying to get out the door!
If I say, “As soon as you get in the car, you can have an Oreo.” or “As soon as you get in the car, you can have a bowl of ice cream” (my son’s ice cream, by the way, is a pure fruit sorbet so it is literally fruit and ice. We are dairy intolerant people!) then he is much more likely to want to get his shoes on and get in the car. Once he is buckled into his car seat, this mama is ready to rock the day!
So, I use it as a bribe. Okay. Fine.
Am I a bad mom? No.
This also adds another smile to my son’s face when he sees that special treat for breakfast! Bonus point opposite of being a mean mommy!
When he eats breakfast in the car, it makes life even more easier because that is less time that we have to account for in the morning and in our chase to get out the door!
So, the question here is, should you give your kids cookies and ice cream for breakfast in the car on the way to school?
If they will easily eat a bowl of Cheerios or some toast without hesitation, then no. Just offer them that in the car!
But when you a have a picky 2 year old that will kick and scream because he would rather play with his Mickey Racer toy than put his shoes on and get into an uncomfortable car seat, then yes!
Yes! Yes! Yes!
As long as….you have packed a healthy lunch/snacks for his day at school (lots of fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains) and limit the unhealthy items when he gets home.
If my son wants a cookie before dinner, I give him a choice between an apple or some cucumber instead. When he has a choice, he is much more likely to pick one or the other.
You just have to set such limits and stick to them the rest of the day!
“But, breakfast in the car, Angela? Come on!”
Well, I would rather sit down and eat a nice big breakfast with my son in our own home, but this is about making life easier in the morning and me not turning into a monster mommy. So, yes, he eats breakfast in the car. That’s just how it is.
Do Your Best!
Listen, in today’s society, we are pressured to engage in more activities than what we can comfortably handle. Try adding the responsibility of raising children to be the best that they can be and the stress level triples!
Be kind to yourself.
If you yell at your child or get into work a little late or forget something on your way out the door, try not to beat yourself up.
I am notorious for calling myself names or yelling at my own self for not being able to keep up with the demands of the day!
I have since learned that I need to try to be more gentle with myself because when you really step back from the world around you and look at what really matters, it is not the pressure to keep up and to please everyone, but it is the beautiful babies that God has entrusted to your care and the joy and love that they bring into your life.
It is about making a happy, healthy life for them and to enjoy every moment with them because life really is too short. They grow up and move on so incredibly quickly and you may wish for some of those special moments back – or moments that could have been if you weren’t so busy trying to please an employer who doesn’t care about you or a supposed friend or family member who is ungrateful for the help you try to provide.
So, be patient.
Make life easier without feeling guilty for the little things you can’t get to.
Get good sleep.
Love and play with your children.
Trust that you are already doing your best everyday and that your best is perfect enough!