I had forgotten how near impossible it is to get yourself and two kids fed a complete breakfast, dressed, teeth brushed, bags packed, and out the door in order to arrive somewhere at a very specific time. Coming out of a leisurely summer things have been super rushed and chaotic to say the least. Whatever the opposite of zen is that’s what I am these days as I attempt to do the 100 necessary things to get all of us out the door and prepared for a day at school. The kids are getting better about the crazed mornings, but it’s definitely a disruption to their routine as any requests to play or do something has been met with a “Sorry, we don’t have time. After school, okay?” Like most things, I’m hoping it gets easier as we get into a groove and establish our new routine.
Thankfully the kids wake up early anyway. We creep quietly downstairs where I put on a show for them and sneak in a few snuggles before making my groggy way to the kitchen. Like an athlete pounding Gatorade on the sidelines, I chug my coffee to fuel myself for the morning dash to come. I pull out my handy dandy microwave bacon plate and throw down a few slices to be nuked to well done – but not crispy (God forbid) – perfection. Honeydew melon for AJR. A mandarin orange for Olivia. Seriously why are these things so difficult to peel when you’re in a rush? I screw open the tops on two Stony Field Yo Kids yogurt pouches. Sweet Lord those things are costing me a small fortune but they are easy and the kids gobble them up quickly so we’ll make budgetary sacrifices elsewhere. Mmmm nothing beats the smell of bacon zapped by micro waves in the morning! Once the bacon is done to my children’s liking, I pop the pancakes in next. The bacon smell infuses the pancakes giving it a subtle McGriddle-like quality. Basically if they ever have a Chopped: Microwave Edition I am winning that $10,000.
Once breakfast has been served (on the couch while they wrap up their TV show no less. Don’t judge me!) I rush back into the kitchen and pound more coffee before throwing snacks and lunch from the fridge in their backpacks and lunch boxes. I sprint upstairs to brush the coffee smell from my mouth and put on something that looks exactly like the pajamas I just slept in to keep it classy at drop-off. Side note, I have never loved dry shampoo more than I do now.
I rush back downstairs. The show is over. Their breakfast may or may not be complete so now I’m basically force feeding them while I look at the clock and realize it’s somehow 7:00am already. They whine and ask for another show. I feel badly about this. There is no easing gently into the day. It’s a forceful shove where they have to MOVE MOVE MOVE or else we’ll be late. Which, as I take a pause to reflect, is that really such a terrible thing when they’re in preschool?
One of my recurring dreams is that I’m trying very hard to run fast but all I can do is crawl or walk very slowly leaving me unable to escape whatever is chasing me. Sometimes these mornings feel like a waking version of that nightmare – I am willing myself (and the kids) to move faster but it often feels like we’re moving in slow motion. Thank God for uniforms because there is literally no clothing battle at all as I pull on pants and shirts and do buttons. Teeth get brushed while I tell the kids that they need to use the bathroom before we leave. “But there are bathrooms at school!” AJR will protest. Yes, but you haven’t urinated in 13 hours so please just do it here. Thanks!
Drop-off is promptly at 7:40am.The parking lot is a sea of buses, oversized SUVs that are getting in the way of MY over-sized SUV, and uniformed children that you have to keep an eye out for. All this before your morning coffee has fully kicked in.
While I’m grateful both kids are at the same school it doesn’t help matters that they have to get dropped off at two totally different locations. AJR goes first – I hold his hand and he sticks with me at the school entrance until he makes eye contact with one of his friends and goes skipping merrily into the building leaving me in a puddle of my own feelings. Then it’s back into the car to drive Olivia up to the top of the hill through the Circle Cluster F of Impatience. Everyone parks juuuust enough to the left that there’s no possible way for you to maneuver your car around and pull into the 100 empty spots in front of them. No, you have to sit and wait while you watch the buses line up behind your car. I feel solely responsible for this traffic jam and a glance in the rearview mirror assures me that the bus drivers feel the same way. Once I secure my spot in line, I tuck and roll out of the car and open up Olivia’s car door and hand her off to an 8th grade girl who escort her into her classroom. The first day I made the mistake of wistfully watching her walk off. Her little hand disappearing into the much larger one of this girl that she’s never met ; confidence oozing out of her pigtails without so much as a look back at mom for reassurance. I reached into my purse to grab my phone for a photo when HOOOOOOOONNNNKKKKKKKKKKK. Apparently bus drivers ain’t got time for that.
Once I see that she made it into school safely, I dive back into my car and speed off, buckling my seatbelt along the way. My own safety is secondary to getting out of there before the buses start ramming me Miss Fritter style (Cars 3 reference for you there). Heart still racing from adrenaline, I open the door to our house and am greeted by the chaotic wake of the morning. Cereal bowls – none of which made it into the sink – plates, cups, an open dishwasher that had every intention of getting unloaded. 1/4 of a cup of unfinished coffee sitting optimistically on the counter. This is our morning. I am already spent and it’s 7:50a.m.
I realize we’ve been lucky for the past few years to enjoy the relatively easy starts to our day. But now our mornings invoke the feeling you get when you’re rushing to make a flight and you get stuck in a long security line. To those parents out there that have been doing it longer and have it harder – what are your tips and tricks to keep the mornings calm while maintaining an on-time arrival? Tell me your ways…