April 07, 2023
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These three things can feel like a recipe for disaster. Here are some of my go-to hacks for a smoother routine with the little ones.
Thanks to my 5-year-old son and his 2-year-old brother, I haven’t needed an alarm clock to wake up in almost 6 years. Toddlers are so helpful that way, never hesitating to scream at the highest octave at 2 a.m. when they require Mama to retrieve the stuffie that fell out of their crib or a bottle refill.
I dream of one day sleeping past 7 a.m. on a weekend, but alas, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. You would think that with such an unpredictable sleep schedule, I’d try to go to bed as soon as I could each evening, preparing for what I might face in the next few hours. But as any mom will tell you, once those kids are finally asleep, we get a sudden surge of energy only satisfied by Netflix bingeing and social media scrolling.
Sure, there is the evening when I might fold laundry as I catch up on “Law and Order” reruns, but I can’t guarantee that level of productivity on a regular basis. I need time to just relax and reset before I resume mom mode all over again.
But regardless of how much evening downtime I get, there are times when I wake up struggling to face the rambunctious routine with my rascals. Perhaps, I’m feeling down because I didn’t get the news I wanted on an audition or a pitch, and the idea of facing the morning chaos with kids seems unimaginable.
Of course, with kids, there is no such thing as a morning off, so below are some things I do to help survive those rough mornings when I can feel my depression creeping in to seize the day.
Having two boys who love to run around and scream can sometimes work to your advantage. When I woke up last week and could feel a case of the doldrums coming on, I initiated a quick game of tag followed by a few sets of jumping jacks.
Watching my round little 2-year-old attempt the jumping jacks through fits of laughter was such a boost to my mood. Being silly with my kids is always such a blessing for me during those heavier moments, and making a game out of the morning routine is always fun.
Yesterday, I had my 5-year-old see how fast he could get dressed and be at the table for breakfast. He loved the challenge, and I really appreciated his efficiency. By the time he got to the table, we were all in a better mood.
I don’t always know when I’ll wake up not feeling my best, so I do whatever I can the night before to ensure the morning routine goes smoothly.
I lay out the kids’ clothes, make sure my Keurig is ready to go with my first cup of caffeine, get the kids’ lunches packed and bags by the door for school, and make sure the dishwasher is empty and there is no laundry waiting to be folded or dried.
Taking care of those little pieces of business the night before helps so much on mornings when I’m not feeling my emotional best.
OK, so even when you do everything right and are as prepared as possible, kids can pivot, and everything falls apart. This morning was the perfect example of that.
My kindergartener didn’t want to get ready for school, and his younger brother just wanted me to hold him. It was ugly, and I could feel myself just getting defeated. So, I sat down on the couch with them both, and we watched a bit of “Peppa Pig” and ate granola bars.
Were we late for school? Yup. Did the kids calm down and end up going off to school smiling and excited for the day? Totally. Sometimes, you just need to let go of what you think needs to happen and give your kids a little attention.
There are some mornings when I wake up, and it can be very hard to turn my mom mode on. If the kids are whiney or just refusing to listen, I don’t raise my voice but rather say to them, “Hey guys, Mama needs a little more help this morning, OK?”
They don’t always hear it, but then I keep my soft tone and ask them if we can all take a deep breath together. They calm down, and I start to feel more in control of the day. Kids really look to you to set the tone, and employing simple breath work can be just what is needed to help the situation improve.
Since my firstborn was just months old, nothing makes his mood improve faster than playing Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” If the kids are bickering or the morning is just becoming a hot mess in a hurry, I put on that song, and my little tyrants start dancing and singing like our house or car is a karaoke bar during happy hour!
Other tunes work too, but this song — for as long as I can remember — is my ace in the hole, and I promise you it’s impossible not to smile while listening to Freddie Mercury and his gang.
Always remember, you got this.
There will always be rough mornings with kids, and even when you do everything I suggest, you might end up in the bathroom crying to your best friend about how being a parent is a real struggle.
But then there are days when you wake up feeling sad, and your littlest comes over and gives you a hug for no reason, or your oldest turns to you suddenly and says, “Mama, you make everything fun,” and you get that jolt of serotonin you so desperately needed.
Medically reviewed on April 07, 2023
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