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Mornings are Not My Friend

By Jessie Christensen

MorningsI’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?

About Jessie Christensen

Jessie served a mission in Spain and graduated from BYU with bachelor's degrees in Spanish Translation and English, as well as a master's in Spanish Literature. She currently works full-time at a university library and nurtures her three children, one cat, and a fluctuating number of fish. She relaxes by reading, baking, canning fruit, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

10 thoughts on “Mornings are Not My Friend”

  1. I wake up early because I love my alone time, but I also know that when I step back in the door at 6:20, it's go go go until the middles leave for school at 8:20. And while we used to be great about daily family prayer, with the big kids leaving for junior high before the little ones are awake, that's something that sadly doesn't happen any more. I loathe any time of day when I have to rush from one thing to another without time to breathe and with lots of people making demands on my time at once, and that's what seems to happen every morning. And who are the mothers whose kids have complicated hairdos? I have no idea how they manage that in the morning.

  2. So far what helps smooth out our early Sunday mornings (the whole 3 we've done thus far with a toddler) is to dress him in his Sunday clothes before we go to bed. Sure, he's wrinkly when he goes to church, but every extra minute of sleep he gets improves his temperament.

  3. Ha! I love the idea of dressing your kids in Sunday clothes the night before.

    For me the hardest time of day is 3:30 till dinner, when every single child needs me, often all at once. Mornings are not my favorite, but still okay, only because I don't have to get myself ready along with everyone else.

  4. Getting up early in the morning, before the rest of the household wakes, is fabulous. When I do it, it is really wonderful. I love the stillness of the dark house, and when I get that alone time first thing, I feel more ready to tackle the rest of the day. Getting alone time at night does not have the same effect. I worked very hard at one point to tame my night-owl tendencies and be up at 5:00 am. I did it for several years pretty consistently. For the past six months or so I've completely fallen off the bandwagon, and I can tell the difference.

    I homeschool, which means that we don't have to be anywhere first thing in the morning. We generally are able to have those relaxed mornings where I'm able to greet each child, spend time snuggling them, eat a leisurely breakfast, etc. And I do love it. But the downside is that it can be easy to just stay in that mode all morning. I have spent four years working on trying to get us moving faster in the morning so that we can get our lessons over and done at a reasonable time. I've finally given up… we start later and finish later in the day. But it doesn't match the ideal that I picture in my mind.

  5. I hear you Jessie! I struggle with mornings. I have to be to work around 7:15, and after a decade it doesn't get any easier! I'm glad I'm not the only one to feel this way, but man it would be nice to be a "morning person". I find that having certain routines or fun things to look forward to for the day really helps.

  6. I've always struggled with (read: hated) mornings. I, too, did the mission thing, and despite the complete consistency of my schedule, I still absolutely hated waking up. I can't talk in the morning–it takes too much effort and my voice doesn't work. I grew up with a lot of people telling me if I just "tried harder" or worked on my attitude or stuck with a schedule then something magical would happen and I'd become a morning person, but it won't happen for me. I've made peace with that, and I'm in a blissful routine right now where I can sleep until 7:30-8:00 every morning (unfortunately, this schedule will only last for another 7 months or so). Hang in there; another season will eventually come.

  7. I teach violin lessons at 6:30 am 5 days a week, which means I have to be dressed, coherent and professional at an absolutely terrible hour. I stand in the shower every morning and chant to myself "Getting up early will not kill me," or "I'll feel like a person if I can just make it to 10:00am." Add to that intense morning sickness, (there's nothing like puking your guts out repeatedly before you're even dressed for the day,) and I'd be happy if nothing in my life started until 10:00.

    And the getting up before the kids thing only works if you have kids who sleep in past 5:30… How I managed to give birth to 4 morning people, I'll never know.

  8. I'm pretty sure the first thing people will say about me at my funeral will be something about how I hardly even know what a morning is. Unless you count the times I don't fall asleep until after the sun rises.

  9. When my children were younger, weekday mornings were hectic, but not as difficult as Jessie's! Four years separated my daughters' ages, so their comings and goings were staggered. I schooled our eldest at home during two middle school years while her sisters remained at the local elementary. (Years later our youngest spent several grades schooled at home, too). My husband worked nights, so the minute he got home from work in the wee hours, I rushed our oldest to early morning seminary at the church, then to the high school before getting the other two ready for the day.

    Sunday mornings, however, usually belied a "day of rest." Five people (one male plus four females) divided by one bathroom and multiplied by a non-rotating early morning church schedule, equaled weekly treks into madness on the way out the door.

  10. My kids sleep in their clothes. And I'm not picky about how presentable they are. I spend time when they are young making the obey and not have tantrums which is miserable but then pays off. I give them a list in kindergarten for them to learn to get themselves ready and quickly switch to making them get ready without needing me to wake them or take care of them. I also live where they can walk to their own bus stop most years to make myself completely irrelevant to their morning. In the years where I did drive I kept my drama to a minimum and tried not to make it my responsibility to get children in the car. Right now my 16 year old is responsible for waking me up when she is ready to leave for seminary.
    Speaking of someone who has this going well, but isn't perfect, it IS possible to change family dynamics in certain situations that you hate. I have done it. You just need to view things a little more objectively to see what is really going on and what is getting in the way of achieving what you want. You have to be willing to give up on something….either you live with counter mess happily or you get exasperated. Things like that are choices.


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