I’ve been working full-time for nearly two years now and the thing I hate the most is the fact that five days of the week I have to get up, get ready, and be out the door by 8:00. Winter, summer, fall, spring—it doesn’t matter. Saturday is still precious, but the impact of one Saturday a week seems to fade when compared to the relentless onslaught of early morning wake-up calls. You would think that I would be used to mornings right now; I’ve been getting up insanely early for years. When I was 11 I got an early-morning paper route. I would wake up at 4:45 in order to have time to carefully fold all the newspapers, place them in bags on my bike handlebars, and ride around the neighborhood delivering them. I only quit the paper route when I started high school and four years of early-morning seminary. Then I went to college and had to wake up early to get to work or class on time; that was followed by my mission, where the mandated 8 hours of sleep every night and regular sleep and wake times were healing after years of sleep deprivation. I had a few years off before having children, and we all know what kind of havoc children can wreak on parents’ sleep.
Sadly, as much as I love my children, they are at the root of my current phase of morning hatred. In my ideal world, mornings would be a time for cozy, family bonding over a hot breakfast and scripture study. I would take the time to chat with my children while helping them style their hair and pack their lunches, before sending them out the door with smiles, hugs, and kisses. In my less-than-ideal, more realistic mind, my goal is simply to have everybody ready and waiting by 8:00 so we can have family prayer and get out the door on time. My more realistic goals include children who dress themselves and pack their own lunches without fighting with each other or dealing with nagging from me.
Instead, most mornings go something like my day yesterday. I woke up ten minutes late and things went downhill from there. There was a seven-year-old who got himself ready nice and early, but then didn’t want to do anything besides bother his sister while she tried to practice the piano. After breaking up that fight, I went in the kitchen and discovered that my two older children had fed themselves breakfast, but had also left open bags of cereal and puddles of milk all over the counter. Then I somehow lost track of time and found myself sitting in my three-year-old’s room at 7:45 trying desperately to wake her up so she could eat breakfast and get dressed. Oh, and I was still in my pajamas and had dripping wet hair at that point too. She ate her breakfast while I quickly styled my hair, then I helped her get dressed. I’ve discovered that trying to quickly dress a toddler in the morning without delays and tantrums takes a level of negotiation skills usually possessed by U.N. peacekeepers or tiger wranglers at the zoo. One word about how her pants are on backwards and we can waste fifteen minutes calming down a nuclear meltdown. Thankfully there were no tantrums yesterday morning and we got out the door by 8:15; the older kids weren’t late to school and the only major consequence was the fact that I didn’t have time to grab my lunch so I had to choke down a nasty sandwich from the vending machine during my 20 minutes I could take off after clocking in late in the morning.
Not every morning is quite as bad as yesterday, but most aren’t that much better. By the time I get to work I feel like I have already run a marathon or worked an entire shift. I worry that my kids start almost every school day by being shoved out the door accompanied by cries of “we’re late! Hurry!” I know that I’m a big part of the problem and just need to get to bed earlier, wake up earlier, and pay more attention to the clock. Maybe this Sunday night I’ll try getting to bed earlier so we can all have a better Monday. Or maybe I’ll just stay up late, because going to bed just means that morning will come again. I’ve been trying that strategy for years—it hasn’t worked yet, but you never know.
How do you feel about mornings? Love them? Hate them? Is there another time of day that you particularly love or loathe?