It's the last week of the semester, and I'm finally feeling like I have the whole working mom thing figured out. Or, the mornings, at least.
I remember that when I first went back to work full-time I was completely overwhelmed by the morning routine. I couldn't believe how early I was going to have to get up just to get everyone out of the house on time. I did it fine when we just had Addie, but somehow having two kids made things, like, ten times as hard. There were so many bags to pack and people to dress and tantrums to quell. Bit by bit, things just fell apart. I stopped bathing. The television was on non-stop. I didn't hardly talk to the girls, so focused was I on just getting everyone ready. I hated mornings. They felt stressful, and set a stressful tone for the rest of the day.
This morning was the exact opposite. I had a few minutes to chill with each kid; I took a bath; I drank my whole cup of coffee; I got to work on time. So, here are a few short lessons, learned after a torturous four months of working mommy-hood:
1) Make little adjustments. Whenever I tried to figure out how to tackle the insanity of the mornings, it seemed like a huge, insurmountable problem. But making some small changes really made a difference. I'll try to explain them below.
2) Get up a little earlier. Not a lot earlier, just a little. For me, getting up fifteen minutes earlier than I usually do means I can have a bath, or sit with Nolie before Addie wakes up, or check my email. I'm amazed how much calmer I am when I give myself a little time to wake up.
3) Ask for a little help. In our house, it doesn't make sense for Eric to get the kids ready for daycare and to drive them there. He does best when he can get to work early (really early) and come home early--he picks the girls up a couple of days a week. But this doesn't mean he's totally off the hook! He recently started making Addie's lunches on school nights, and he brings me a cup of coffee in bed every morning. These tiny things have made a huge difference in how I feel about mornings. And about Eric.
4) Prep the night before. We have a little couch in our entryway, and every night I line up all of my bags for the next day: Nolie's diaper bag gets stocked; my purse, which will get filled with my lunch and Addie's stuff the next morning; my briefcase; my computer bag; and whatever else (library books, papers, etc.). Then, in the morning, I just make sure the little assembly line has everything it needs, and I haul all of it out to the car. No forgotten bags, no running around like a possessed nuthouse.
5) Spend a little time with the girls. Whether it's hanging out with Nolie for a few minutes before I try to get dressed or hugging Addie on the couch for a few minutes before we head out the door, these little bits of time really matter to me and to the kids. Their attitudes improve, as does mine, and it's a good way to remind them how much I love them.
6) Bathe. I still can't do this everyday. If I have to be at work early, or if there's a lot going on, chances are I'm not going to get a shower or a bath. It just stretches everyone too thin. But for some reason, I feel so much better if I've had a chance to wash my hair and shave my pits at the beginning of the day. It's just that simple. So, though I'm comfortable with having days where I don't get to, I'm trying to work the bath back into the routine. I'm sure everyone around me is also glad for this.
I don't know why this was all so hard for so long--I look over this, and it all seems so simple. And mornings will always sort of suck. I forgot to eat breakfast today, for example, because Nolie pooped all over and Addie had six types of medicine to take (I exaggerate) and sometimes my needs (eating, peeing, breathing) take backseat. But I'm getting better. It gets better.