I’ve learned a lot from being a mom these past four years. For one, there is no 9 to 5 when you’re a parent. There is the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. Secondly, we’re all just an ear infection or as of lately, a pandemic, away from needing to completely rearrange the entire day. All plans will be cancelled or grandparents will be called in for reinforcement immediately.
Waking up twenty minutes before your kids do
I have learned to embrace this chaos, exchange looks of understanding with my husband, laugh and handle surprises as they come up. I have also found that a key differentiator in helping me adapt to the never-ending excitement of raising two kids under five is waking up at least twenty minutes before they do. Doing so allows me to start my day with some quiet time, without interruption from technology. Even if the entire twenty minutes is spent in bed pretending I’m asleep so my husband gets up with our toddlers. The goal is to wake up before I hear the words “mama, I need to go to the bathroom.”
For most of my life, I woke up as late as I possibly could while still leaving enough time for getting ready so I could be on time but obviously leaving out anything extraneous. Necessities of life like cooking breakfast and then having a conversation with my loved ones were not in the picture. I was always running out the door with something travel-friendly in my hand, like coffee. Now, as a 33-year-old mother of two with a baby on the way, I have discovered the benefits of waking up before it is absolutely required.
The necessary calculations
Before I made this seemingly minor commitment to myself, I would wake up when my toddlers woke up in a state of panic with my heart racing. My mind would calculate the amount of time I have left and whether it’s still possible to get everyone to school on time. Once those calculations were complete, I start counting how many hours were left in the day and dividing it by the work and household tasks I need to complete. I thought about finishing my article and washing my son’s school sleep mat because he woke up from his nap wet (is he crying out for attention subconsciously because he’s about to be a big brother?).
Other thoughts running through my mind: folding the laundry, returning all the extra organizational tools I purchased at The Container Store because I felt motivated to organize my home that one day, washing my make-up brushes because I don’t have time to get pink eye right now, and preparing dinner before I pick up the kids from school. I was always weighing the time left in my day versus the length of my to-do list.
With my newfound approach to mornings, I eat breakfast, get myself dressed, catch up with my Google News app or if I’m being honest, Instagram, before the kids wake up. I know I said no technology but I am technically a millennial. What I found most effective is sitting at my kitchen table drinking my coffee and eating a banana in silence. It’s the self-care I didn’t know I needed until I became a parent. I let my mind wander and truly appreciate the quietness.
Once the kids are up, my daughter has her shirt stuck over her head and is asking me repeatedly for help as she tries to get herself dressed for school. I smile because she doesn’t realize how sweet and also how amusing she looks at that particular moment. My son puts his hands on my belly to feel “his baby” move. He tells me that when the baby is born, he’s going to put socks on his/her tiny feet. He also asks when the baby will “pop out.”
I’m slowly starting to feel like the grown-up I always felt I could be.
I’m slowly starting to feel like the grown-up I always felt I could be. The one that doesn’t snooze four times and needs her roommate (and subsequently her husband) to wake her up because no alarm could ever suffice. Maybe I could be my own parent – taking some time in the morning to take care of myself before I take care of my family. I wonder what other changes I can make in my life that could have such a profoundly positive outcome.
A week later, all is going according to plan. That is, until my daughter crawls into our bed in the middle of the night because she can’t sleep. She sleeps diagonally and I wake up throughout the night with her feet on my head. My husband and I barely sleep. The next morning, I wake up in a panic. I realize there is no way we’ll make it to school on time. As I jump out of bed. I start calculating how much time I realistically have to get everyone dressed and fed. I silently ask myself why I didn’t wake up twenty minutes earlier before my mind moves on to the tasks at hand.
Do you wake up before your kids or do your kids also double as a surprisingly consistent daily alarm clock? What do your mornings look like? Sound off in the comments.
Photo: Joe Mac