Starting back at work hurts, but you can make it easier

Posted in Parenting Essentials.

I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security. My wits have been softened, my reflexes dulled.

Before the Christmas break I was a well-oiled machine. My kids were dressed before breakfast, eating at the table, bags packed and all in order before we whizzed out the door for school, daycare and work.

OK, so it was never that clean – there were tears, lost shoes and poos that needed to happen the minute we were about to leave – but I was on it. We were hardly ever late.

The pain of starting again is real

I’m always surprised at how hard the first few weeks of working life are after a holiday. It’s incredible how much effort it takes to get a child dressed and fed within a couple of hours.

The contrast between lazy mornings that roll from pjs to swimmers to pjs again cannot be compared with the mayhem of clean clothes, clean teeth, full bellies and daily deadlines.

It hurts. The gears are rusty and it takes several weeks for them to start chugging along at the right pace. 

Read more about routines:

Children have their own body clock, and it ticks at a different pace to yours

Part of the problem is that children are born with their own internal clock that will evolve as they grow.

For babies, it’s the need to feed and sleep whenever and wherever it suits them. For older children, time is elastic. Deadlines mean nothing when there’s a pile of coins to stack while you sit pantless on the floor.

I am regularly torn between letting my kids be kids, and being on time (thus avoiding the shame of a late note).

So how can we all start the year with less pain?

Organisation is the key to success

All that stuff about making lunches the day before, getting uniforms, socks and shoes out before you go to bed? It’s boring but it makes a difference. It’s like leaving the dishes. It’s okay to do it occasionally, but if you leave it for too long it becomes a tottering tower of pain that will ultimately bring you down.

Get yourself motivated and prepare the night before, that way the next morning will be a whole lot easier.

There’s nothing in life that can’t be made better with a good podcast

I don’t mind ironing, washing up, making beds … I’ll even clean out the toy room if I have a good podcast to listen to.

It’s like having a new series of Stranger Things for your ears.

There is a podcast for everyone. True crime, historical, interview, dramatic features, documentaries, parenting (may I suggest Feed Play Love or The Parent Panel if you’re interested?)

If it’s something you really love, getting ready for the next day will be an excuse to keep listening.

If podcasts aren’t your thing, try an audiobook or make up a mix of your favourite tunes.

New year, new you

And by this, I mean a new them. What an opportunity for your child to embrace being helpful and obedient!  

I hear you laughing, but really, it’s a chance to say, “You’re three/four/five this year. You’re big and smart enough to put on your shoes/clean your teeth/pack your bag.”

This might require some investment of time on the weekend, children need to be shown and taught new things. They won’t always complete the task on time or to your satisfaction. But you get out what you put in, and it’s a start to having one less “to do” item on your list.

Mornings can be a great experience

There are parts of the morning that I really love. Sneaking into my son’s bed and giving him a cuddle to wake him up while his cheeks are still soft with sleep. Chatting to them both over breakfast, watching them dance in the back of the car.

Part of this is being organised the night before so things aren’t a mess of awfulness from the minute you wake up. The other part it is having perspective.

Time is the factor that creates all the stress, but how important are the deadlines you’re keeping? How late will you really be? Is a late note (once in a while, if anyone from Darcy’s school is reading this) really a problem?

If you can keep this in perspective there will be moments where you can, as meditation teacher Timothea Goddard says, “Catch joy on the wing.”

It doesn’t have to be a blissful experience all the time, but there will still be pockets of light.

Now, to practice what I preach! What do you do that helps mornings be a smoother experience?


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