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Morning Routine For 3-Year-Old

1 Toddler Mom's Morning Routine, From Potty Training to Paw Patrol

Heather lives in San Diego with her husband and nearly 3-year-old son. Both parents work full-time outside and inside the home. Heather is the Director of Associated Students Administration at the University of California, San Diego. Finding parking once she arrives on campus takes nearly as long as the 20-minute commute. But, this time affords her at least one cup of hot coffee and an opportunity to chip away at her Audible library.

My Morning Juggle

10:47 p.m.
My morning routine starts the night before when I set my alarm for 5 a.m., vowing to get up before my son to work out, catch up on my inbox, or honestly just drink a hot cup of coffee in silence.
5 a.m.
Said alarm goes off, and I hit snooze.
5:12-6 a.m.
This pattern repeats every 7-9 minutes for approximately an hour.
6 a.m.
"Mommy, my light is on! Mommy, my light is on!" My son has always been an early riser. But, at about 18-months-old, he started waking up REALLY early. After scouring child sleep sights and talking to lots of friends, we decided to implement a ready-to-wake clock. He adjusted to the concept very quickly, and it has been a game changer for our house.
6:02 a.m.
I pull on my robe as my husband starts to dress for work. "Mommy, they are dry!" My son is referring to his underpants. We have recently potty-trained, and since I initially asked him each morning if he had dry undies or an accident, he now automatically offers an answer every morning.
6:03 a.m.
After the appropriate amount of praise for dry undies, I ask if he needs to go potty now. He always says no even though he is doing the potty dance. Just as you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink, in this house, you can lead a toddler to the potty, but you cannot make him go. So, we move on with our morning, and I wait for the panicked "I have to go potty now!" that is in our near future.
6:09 a.m.
My husband has to be out the door by 6:10 in order to get to work on time. We quickly review our respective domestic responsibilities for the rest of the day — who will be home when, dinner plans, etc. My son and I follow my husband to the door and shout goodbyes. I am sure the group of college kids who live next door really appreciate this daily exchange on the front steps.
6:10 a.m.
Bye, dad! My son almost immediately asks to watch "1 pup." "Pups" is what he calls the Nickelodeon show Paw Patrol. He gets to watch two television episodes each morning. This has very much become a part of our routine, and though screen time is controversial, I look at it as a tool to help our morning routine run smoothly. He and I both know exactly how long each episode is, and I have a calculated plan of what I can and need to accomplish during that time.
6:15 a.m.
We have selected an episode and are snuggled up on the couch together. During the first episode, I try to chat with him about the show, and I scan my phone getting caught up on social media and work emails that came in overnight. I work with college students, so a lot of correspondence comes in between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. — prime working hours for them.
6:20 a.m.
My son hops off of the couch. "I have to go potty!" and we race down the hallway.
6:37 a.m.
"May I watch one more, Mom?" my son asks. We start the second episode, and I hustle off to get myself ready for work. I know that I have exactly 23 minutes, give or take a commercial break.
6:40 a.m.
I head to my bathroom: wash my face, plug in a curling iron, and start my very calculated hair and makeup routine. Before having a child, it took me nearly an hour to get ready each morning. I washed and blow-dried my hair every day. I nearly never shower in the morning anymore and only wash my hair once a week. As such, I generously shake dry shampoo onto my hair and scrub. I love dry shampoo.
6:45 a.m.
I survey my closet and am displeased with the options. It seems like nothing fits. And the things that do fit are dirty. I have been considering a capsule wardrobe, and it's this time each day where I feel renewed conviction to take the plunge.
6:55 a.m.
I took too long finding something to wear. My hair is done, but my makeup is not. Pups is wrapping up. I curse myself because this happens every day, and now I am stressed. I resolve to remember this strain and vow to get up before my son tomorrow so I do not have to feel like this. (I think we all know how it will go tomorrow though).
7 a.m.
Television time is done, and my son has suddenly realized he is famished. I put a waffle in the toaster and start to wash and cut some fruit for his breakfast.
7:02 a.m.
He has learned how to start music on the wireless speaker in the dining room. Most mornings, we listen to the Cars soundtrack, but today he selects Beach Boys. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" starts to play.
7:05 a.m.
I generally eat breakfast once I get to the office. But, my son's breakfast is ready: one pumpkin toaster waffle, some grapes, a yogurt smoothie, and chicken sausage. I grab my lukewarm coffee, and we sit down at the table together. I love this time. My son is very verbal, and we have great conversations during breakfast. He tells me funny stories about alligators under the bed, his friends from preschool, or what he thinks we should do this weekend.
7:06 a.m.
I'm using my Disneyland/Starbucks "You Are Here" coffee mug. Naming the illustrated attractions on the mug is always an entertaining breakfast activity. Now we both want to go to Disneyland.
7:10 a.m.
He tries to get up from the table for an impromptu dance party. We do not have time for said dance party. I scoot him back to his seat, encouraging him to continue eating his breakfast.
7:20 a.m.
We have done the distracted dance several more times in the past 10 minutes, but he has finished a reasonable amount of food, so we head back to his room to get dressed. We always get dressed after breakfast. Bless his heart, he always makes a mess of himself while eating, so it would be useless to get dressed before.
7:21 a.m.
I offer a few options of what he can wear today. He really wants to wear "comfy clothes." I explain that he cannot wear pajamas for the day, and he will have to choose from the "real clothes" options presented to him.
7:22 a.m.
He is insistent on "comfy clothes," and my resolve is wavering as I start to get flustered. The nanny and family we nanny-share with will be here at 7:30. Luckily, he decides that one of the options I have offered is comfy enough.
7:24 a.m.
At almost 3-years-old, my toddler is learning to dress himself, so that takes a few minutes. I am on standby to help, but really try not to intercede. It takes all of my patience, but I wait and let him manage.
7:27 a.m.
Finally dressed! I scoot him to the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth. He has two toothbrushes and chooses one for himself and hands me the other. He always gets to choose if he wants to brush his own teeth first or after mom does it. We sing "this is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth," brushing for at least one round of the song.
7:30 a.m.
The nanny is always on time (bless her!), and we go running back to the front room to greet her.
7:35 a.m.
My kid has a very limited palate (as most toddlers do). We try to offer one unfamiliar or previously denied item at each meal. With breakfast this morning, it was the chicken sausage. I fill the nanny in on his give-it-a-try options for lunch: chicken pot stickers or ham and cheese cube skewers I prepped last night. I expect he will politely decline both.
7:45 a.m.
I pour another cup of coffee for the road. Coffee is not as satisfying from a travel mug. So, I head to my car, ceramic mug with no lid in hand, and accept that the likelihood is high I will wear some of the coffee. Worth it.
7:46-8:10 a.m.
The drive to work is my only true and regular alone time, and I know it. My audible book is cued up, coffee cup is poised precariously on the dashboard, and I mentally make the transition from present mom to higher education administrator.
Image Source: Heather Belk
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