Broadcaster Shevonne Hunt shares some inside knowledge on nailing that Mission Impossible morning routine with kids in tow! (You might even have time to stop for a coffee on the way to work!)
This year my husband got a full-time job, which means he leaves the house at 6.30am. Which also means that I now do double drop-off every morning (#firstworldproblems).
But seriously, morning drop-offs are hard work. It’s relentless. Before you’ve even opened your eyes you’re inwardly groaning at what’s required to get out of the door on time.
I have a few ways of dealing with mornings that has stopped me going insane (though it’s only April, so check in with me again come November).
Read more about working parents:
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1. Work out your routine
As my friend musician and early learning educator Benny Time says, routine isn’t just good for kids, it’s good for adults too.
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Routines work because you know what to expect, and you know everything will get done before you leave the house.
Different routines work better for different people. As I’m on my own in the mornings we dance to the beat of my drum, but if you’re doing this with someone else it’s probably worth actually talking about the kind of routine that works for you.
In my house we all eat breakfast together, the kids get dressed and clean their teeth. Once they are completely ready to go out the door I pop the TV on and have a shower. I get ready in peace and when I hear PJ Masks on the TV I know I need to get out the door ASAP.
2. Wake up early
This is a very personal thing. Some people would rather run late all day than get up early, but it’s key for me to get out the door on time. If I’m feeling super motivated I will get up at 5.30am to meditate. Given this rarely happens most mornings I wake at 6am (which isn’t really early once you have kids is it?).
Getting up at 6am means I have enough time to know everything needs to start in order for us to get through breakfast, dressing, cleaning teeth, etc. without needing to sprint through it all.
You may be able to get through everything in less time, so work out what ideal ‘wake up’ time works for you.
3. Eat breakfast before everything and do it together
This would have to be my favourite time in the morning (apart from that day my son cried for 30 minutes because I poured the cereal wrong).
I set up the table so they can choose their breakfast and get it for themselves. We have the radio on (Kinderling of course!) and we talk and laugh together. It’s a treasured little moment in the general chaos of the morning.
After I finish my breakfast (because I eat as fast as only mums can) I make my lunch while they’re finishing up.
4. Dress after breakfast and before TV
If you’re not a TV-watching family, insert ‘favourite thing to do’ in the TV part. My kids love to watch TV, and they’re not allowed to do it before they are 100% ready to walk out the door (it’s a great incentive).
Hair must be brushed (and teeth), shoes on and bags packed (lunches and bags tend to be done the night before).
Once the TV is on I can relax and get ready myself, knowing they are ready to go.
I have my shower and get dressed with very few interruptions. It’s almost like life BC (Before Children).
5. Breathe, breathe, breathe
Most mornings if I do steps one to four, everything goes quite smoothly. I would even go so far as to say that I often enjoy my time with the kids at this time of day (gasp!). But I have a normal, human family so we have our shockers too.
One morning I was still smarting from a fight with my husband, my son cried through breakfast (because of the cereal being poured wrong), then he refused to get in the car, my daughter said she wanted to vomit and once I left the house I lost the heel on my favourite shoe. I sat in the driver’s seat with both kids wailing in the back and it was all I could do not to cry myself.
At that point all you can really do is breathe. Breathing is very underrated. It can calm you down when everything is going pear shaped. It can help you find time to get some perspective. And, of course, it keeps you alive.
It’s important to acknowledge that mornings can be hard, and if your kid is clothed, fed and has two shoes on their feet (not necessarily matching) then you’re doing a fine job.
And if that doesn’t work, think of your first coffee for the day.
I find that always works a treat.