This year has felt very long, with one disaster rolling into the next and family life being turned on its head. Days have blended into each other, punctuated by a Zoom exercise class or morning walk. The most exciting event being a trip to the coffee shop.
With school holidays about to start again next week, I suddenly realised this morning that we would be heading into Term 3, not Term 4 when the kids return to school. That (while obvious to anyone with a calendar) was a crushing realisation. Akin to waking up on a Monday morning and thinking it is Saturday.
In that moment I understood that I have another six months of wrangling my children out of the house by 8am every day. Welcome to the mid-year-morning blues.
Why mornings are so bloody hard
Studies have already proven what we all know: getting kids ready for the day is hard work.
There’s a lot to squish into the morning without allowing for tantrums, lost Transformer legs and hunting down socks without seams in them. Dressing, breakfast, basic hygiene measures (clean face and teeth) for little people take time. The other stuff just has to wait – and then you’re running out the door trailing bags and biscuit crumbs.
It’s the one time when chaos can also be monotonous. And chaos is tiring. And stressful. And boring.
It’s time for a spring clean (even though we’re deep into winter)
My husband has a number of things that he believes to be true about the world. Like that country air makes children hungry and tired. Or that rain slows down the internet connection.
The one I’m going focus on today is that the City 2 Surf run, held every August in Sydney (although it will be running in October this year, thanks pandemic), is the actual point in time when spring has sprung. Other mere mortals can wait until September, but according to my good man, every year the City 2 Surf brings the sunshine and warmth back to us.
And so I think it’s time to ‘spring clean’ the way I do mornings, in order to push myself out of these mid-year blues – even if we are knee-deep in winter weather.
Shaking out the dust, AKA mixing up the routine
A while back, I worked out the best routine for my kids was to get dressed, eat breakfast, clean teeth, then watch TV while I get ready. Simple things repeated ad nauseam become an accepted truth. But it’s been wearing me down because I really wanted to meditate – just five minutes – to give me perspective in all the chaos.
Then I tweaked it, realising that in the final 30 minutes when I get dressed, I can do it then. It may mean the kids get an extra 10 minutes of TV so I am left alone, but it’s what I need to make the morning better for me.
Every spring clean needs a good soundtrack
I have been known to look for ironing in order to keep listening to a good podcast. Multitasking is a way of life, but cleaning the dishes, packing bags and getting dressed is much more entertaining when accompanied by a riveting podcast, audio book or your own personal soundtrack of bangers.
At the moment I’m hooked on a series of audio books that I’ve been known to listen to while the kids watch cartoons.
Either way, if you get something good in your ears, you don’t even notice you’re doing the heavy lifting of the morning routine.
Enjoy the change in weather/ shift your mental perspective
When we have breakfast, I turn off the radio and we talk. It can take anywhere between ten minutes to half an hour (depending on what toy my son brings to the breakfast table), but I love it.
When I was groaning under the strain of another six months of mornings, I reminded myself of that. Leading up to (and after) breakfast can be a whirlwind of activity, but for the short amount of time that I shovel down my muesli, we’re spending quality time together. I enjoy having that time with them.
Dropping them at daycare and school also means I get to know the people that fill their life. Carers, teachers, other kids.
It is the middle of the year, and mornings are hard. Sometimes it feels like I’ve climbed a mountain before I’ve even turned on the computer on my desk. But the thing about a spring clean is that everything feels shinier afterwards.
So I’m getting out my duster, I’m going to give our routine a bit of a shake, and see what good stuff falls out.