Quiet applause for the single Mums who get themselves and their children ready for the day each morning. Quiet applause for the husbands-work-away mums who do the same. I am in neither of these categories, but in our household, the morning routine is solely my responsibility. And it is tiresome. Not even morning people (like me) enjoy being bombarded with questions and complaints upon waking.
Since becoming a school mum, I've been slowing discovering ways to help the flow and make mornings nice. Oh, I'm not there yet, but with some grace, we do experience a smooth morning on occasion. Here are my tips:
Wake up early. Boo. Not one person wants to do this. And after seven years straight of 4:30am mornings, I feel like I deserve some more sleeping (now my kids sleep till 5:30 average). But I gave this a trial for one month and although I was tired during the day (I should adjust my bedtime when I am doing this), my mornings were remarkably better. I woke at 5am and used the spare half hour to do something that gave me focus, and made me happy. For me that was a child-free prayer/journalling time.
Leave the phone alone. Better to be facing the spilled milk or lost shoes or pre-test jitters in your own household without also being consumed with the same (or probably less concerning) problems of your best friend's sister-in-law's high school exchange student on Facebook (or the coolest things you are not doing with your life on Pinterest). Ain't nobody got time for that!
Pick one thing to prepare the night before. I like to pre-prepare the lunches, since these give me high heart rates when done in the morning. You could make sure the kids uniforms are ironed. Or choose your own outfit. It's a shame I can't do everyone's hair the night before as that would save plenty of stress!
Have a good chore system. Ours is finally working well. My children get pocket money for their weekday chores (this parallels the paid work they will do one day), but are still required to help around the house (without pay) when asked or when we need to do group cleaning up on the weekends (this parallels general helpfulness and responsibility in the home of their own one day).
Know your worst point and keep it calm. My everyday bad mood moment is walking out the door to the car and then getting every child/bag/homework folder/library bag/musical instrument in place and buckled. Unfortunately this is also the moment that can be heard by all my neighbours as our car is parked outside. I don't even know why I get worked up about it, as we have never been so late to school as the miss the bell, and even if we were, it is not an issue. Lateness (or possible lateness) is just that issue that I blow out of proportion and make into a crisis. Keeping things in perspective definitely helps the kids (and me) enjoy a peaceful lead-in to the day.
Have a happy soundtrack. After aforementioned bad mood moment, I usually want to put on some chill out music of my own choice to relax to in the car. But my kids have a great knack of choosing something fun to listen to and it invariably give us a happy ten minutes of singing and seat-dancing together. It turns the mood around and creates the best send-off to school that I can think of.
So single mums, solo in the morning mums, and even mums with help from dads, I'm wishing you joy in the mornings!