Weekday mornings or any day at mom heads out to go to work have a special place in h*ll for us working moms. Sure, we have our smooth days when our kids leave with us without complaint and on time and heck, we even exit with a good hair day and a smile on our face … but then there are those other days. You know what I mean—the days when you turn into Mommy Dearest and your children are the biggest utter pains in the you-know-what's and for one brief moment you seriously consider shipping those ungrateful children of yours to China or India to work in a sweatshop, but hey, then you have to pay for their airfare. Thankfully, you love them so much that you let these bad moments slide and let's be honest mom: you melt down too on some mornings aren't exactly the coolest cucumber on the block. I know for me the weekday mornings are the most trying time of day for me, so I've gathered a few tips on how to make the mornings mellower and not so manic!
Clothes, a Day Ahead
Pick both your clothes and your children's clothes the night before. Now, we all know how some kids (ahem, my daughter) can be a pain when it comes to wearing something they didn't choose. Give your kids 3 options to pick from, and lay them out the night before. If you even choose your own outfit the night before, you'll be less apt to hem and haw over those pants that don't seem quite right or that dress that's maybe not so comfortable. We ladies are the worst when it comes to wardrobe changes too, so prep the night before and the next day should be easier.
Sleep or Wake 'em Earlier?
I like to let my daughter sleep a bit later because I feel bad she has such a tough schedule with both me and my ex-husband working, but I've found this to backfire in my face. It's actually better to wake your kids a few minutes earlier so they have time to wake up and ease into the day. Unless your child is a super easy morning kid who loves racing off to school without any difficulties, giving the little ones some extra time to be alert helps. They don't drink coffee or tea you know, and if you're working their day is most likely as long as yours. I was letting my girl wake later and all it did was make me rush her, which in turn had her cranky and me stressed. It's not worth it.
Does your child hem and haw over what to bring to school or take his or her precious time eating every single bite of breakfast? Do you cringe when you look at the clock and realize, "Oh crap, kids are taking forever and now I'm going to be late?" Some kids are slow yes, but giving kids a deadline and sticking to it—no matter what—will help. For example, I tell my daughter every morning that the car leaves at 7:20 in the morning—no later and no earlier. What does that mean? That means if she's not ready to go by 7:20, guess who brings her into the car into her jammies or without her snack, etc.?
This may sound extreme but if I let her continue to take forever, tantrum, or not respect when we have to leave, she will only take advantage. Thankfully for her, I drop her at her dad's before she goes to school so she didn't show up to school in her pajamas, but ever since I took her to dad in her nightgown and slippers, she's been easier to get ready. And would it have been a crime if she showed up to preschool in her pajamas? No, and she would said, "I never want that to happen again," and learned a tough lesson.
Stick to your guns ladies! If you tell your kid we leave at X time, go. If your kids end up a little hungry or dressed ridiculously for school, they'll survive. It won't kill them and in fact, will encourage them to not act out and follow the routine. If you give too many false warnings your kid will call you out on it so set a deadline and stick to it!
Divvy Up Responsibilities
Working moms have so much to remember those hectic mornings. Make your kid responsible for something of his or hers so that way you can focus on the essentials you need to bring as well. Of course, be sure to make it developmentally appropriate. Your four year-old doesn't need to worry about bringing in that month's tuition check, but he or she can be responsible for making sure he/she has a book bag before leaving. If your children are older and capable, increase the responsibilities.
The same goes for morning chores. My four year-old feeds the dog each morning. What can your kids do that will lessen the load for you? Have them take out the trash, water the plants, feed the family cat, or any other little "chore" that will free you up to make sure you have everything you need for work, the kids' homework and lunches in tow, and whatever else is a more pressing matter that shouldn't be left to the kids' discretion. If your child is older though, he or she should be responsible for homework unless your kiddo has a developmental delay that makes doing so difficult.
Avoid or Monitor Social Media and Email Checking
Do you wake up and instantly check all your social media sites and email inboxes? You may want to hold off or more realistically, set a strict time limit for doing so. Why? Well you might be wasting time that could be better used getting ready scrolling through your news feeds. Sure, I know if the kids are asleep you want a little decompression time but be sure to make sure you're not wasting minutes that could be spent giving the kids and yourself extra time to prep before leaving for the day.
When in Doubt, Google Calendar or Alerts
I have so much to remember that I feel like there's always this huge to-do list and inventory in my brain. I use my Google calendar to remind me of tasks I need to get done before leaving for the day. Whatever alert or calendar tool you choose, use it! It will remind you, "Oh yeah, today is the class birthday for my son," or "Please mail out this bill," or whatever you need a reminder for. It's important to be organized and have tools in place to keep your activities monitored. I even set alerts for dates that all my bills need to be paid each month so I don't have to re-enter the next month. Everything is already set to remind me. Use technology wisely and let it gently help that mommy brain of yours!
Let It Go
If your kid looks like a fool in some outfit she choose or you and the kids had a crappy unhealthy breakfast for one morning, just let it go. Not every day is going to be a winner. You can't be Mom of the Year everyday because then you'd make the rest of us look bad, so pick your battles wisely and realize that if your kid goes to school in two different shoes it's okay. You on the other hand? Make sure they match!
Mornings aren't easy but they don't have to be painful Mommies! Do your best and remember: there's always the weekends to look forward to!