Welcome to The Everymom Before 9am, where we’re exploring the challenges of weekdays and shedding light on all that goes into mornings with kids. We’re asking mothers how they manage their mornings, from the time they wake up until the time they leave the house (if applicable).
We know some moms tackle mornings solo and some have a partner who shoulders the prep. We know some moms commute long distances, work from home, or stay at home. But we know ALL moms work.
A lot can happen before 9am, whether it be cleaning up spilled cereal, packing the pump parts, or discovering spit-up on our pants. We hope by sharing a variety of stories, maybe we can help each other find hacks, shortcuts, and, at the very least, support in knowing we’re not alone.
Today: A full-time working mom with two kids and a husband who is out the door before anyone else is awake.
City: Chicago suburbs
Relationship status: Married
Gender Identity: Female
Work hours: Full-Time
Work location: At home
Awake time: 4:30-5am
Out the door time: 8am (if all goes well)
Commute: No work commute, but dropping the kids off at two different schools takes about an hour
Number of cups of coffee drank before leaving the house: 1
Partner’s age: 36
Partner’s gender identity: Male
Partner’s work hours: Full-Time (And then some)
Work location: Outside of the home
Child 1 age: 6 years
Child 2 age: 4 years
Childcare: Public first-grade with added afterschool care, private Montessori pre-k with added afterschool care
4:30am: My husband’s alarm goes off. I’m a light sleeper and can’t usually go back to sleep once I’m awake, but I do bury my head deep in my pillow to savor these last few moments of quiet before the day starts.
5-5:30am: My husband leaves for work anywhere from 4:50-5:15, depending on his day, and I usually start to hear my younger son stirring sometime after the 5 o’clock hour. I am not a morning person, and I silently beg for him to stay put and go back to sleep (it never happens).
5:25am: I hear little brother call “Mommy! I need to go to the bathroom!” and the thought of having to wash all of his sheets, blankets, and loveys should he have an accident propels me out of bed and down the hall to his room. He sleeps in a floor bed, but for whatever reason, enjoys being personally escorted to the bathroom each morning. I lead him to the toilet and collapse on the foot of our bed across the hall until he calls out for help wiping. Good morning, indeed.
5:40am: The little one joins me in bed. I ask him to rest and he, in turn, asks me an incessant amount of questions on every thought he’s had since I saw him last night: why does the sun come out some days and not others? How do animals travel at night? Do they have flashlights? Where’s Daddy? Should we call him? What was the score of the game last night? Did Elsa and Olaf really die in Frozen 2 or what happened there? I mumble answers as best as I can while practicing the day’s first exercise in patience.
My son sleeps in a floor bed, but for whatever reason, enjoys being personally escorted to the bathroom each morning. I lead him to the toilet and collapse on the foot of our bed across the hall until he calls out for help wiping. Good morning, indeed.
6:00am: Around 5:55am, my older son joins the party. He usually bounces up in his bed like a spring chicken, jumps out of his bed with a big thud, and storms into our room as if he’s walking across the stage to collect the Nobel Prize (his dream). He crawls in bed next to me and always asks me something obscure, like “Did you know that phytoplankton are plants and zooplankton are animals, but some organisms can be considered both phytoplankton and zooplankton?” I mutter something along the lines of “very cool.”
6:15am: I put on a show for the kids so they can rest beside me while I close my eyes for a bit–usually, they pick something along the lines of The Magic School Bus, Wild Kratts, or Molly of Denali. Screentime first thing in the morning is not for the fainthearted, do-gooder parent, but regardless of living with three morning-people for this long, I have failed to become one yet—so this is life.
We snuggle for 10-15 minutes, and though I try to rest, I always instead end up trying to breathe in every little bit of them: how they smell, the warmth of their bodies close to me, their teeny soft hands enveloped in mine. I know a day will come soon where they won’t join me in bed for a morning cartoon; I try to take it in while I can. More often than not, I simultaneously wonder what I’ve done to deserve such beautiful beings and why they hell they won’t sleep longer.
6:30am: I give the kids a warning: turn off the TV after this episode and go brush your teeth and get dressed. I head into the bathroom to brush and shower. I usually get one foot in the shower door before someone comes barging in with a need or want. Help me with my toothpaste, I can’t find the shirt I like, he hit me! I put out a few fires before running back into the water and quickly partaking in what can only be described as a “rinse-off.” I am not the type who can function without a shower, so rushed or interrupted or not, it’s happening.
6:45am: I get dressed (yesterday’s leggings but new t-shirt) and make sure the boys have dressed appropriately for the weather. Sometimes, I peel off layers, sometimes I add a few. We head downstairs to get started on phase #2.
I know a day will come soon where they won’t join me in bed for a morning cartoon; I try to take it in while I can. More often than not, I simultaneously wonder what I’ve done to deserve such beautiful beings and why they hell they won’t sleep longer.
6:50-ish to 7:45am: What happens next can only be described as some sort of whirlwind-tornado-marathon-mess. As soon as we head downstairs, the kids see whatever play they left off on the night before and pick it right back up. Meanwhile, I make a quick breakfast for them—scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, frozen pancakes, or waffles (we like Kodiak or 365 brands), oatmeal or cereal, always with a glass of milk. If we’re running really late, sometimes I implement my patented “lazy” breakfast: a cereal bar, yogurt, and a string cheese stick. My younger son almost always adds a banana to his feast (he’s a big breakfast eater), and my older son almost always does not finish anything (he prefers using his mouth to talk instead of chew).
While they eat, and while I remind them a thousand times to continue eating, I get the backpacks ready for school. I clear out my first-grader’s school folder and make sure nothing needs to be signed or addressed. I make his lunch for the day (one of my most hated parental tasks), pack his snack, fill both of his water bottles. I fill the little one’s water bottle and make sure his backpack is stocked with extra clothes. I prep their cold-weather gear bags for outdoor snow play at school: snow pants, boots, hats, scarves, and waterproof gloves. I make a cup of coffee or chai and snack on the crusts of the sandwich that I packed for my older son’s lunch. I finish off my face in the downstairs bathroom with some SPF, concealer, and an eyelash curler (OK most days, just SPF).
At some point in this time, my husband FaceTimes from work to see the kids. And though I know it’s important for them all to talk every day, sometimes nothing drives me crazier than having to hold the phone in front of the kids while they eat while I have a hundred other things to do. I continue to work on exercising my patience.
If I have the presence of mind, I’ll throw in a load of laundry or give the downstairs a quick vacuum. It seems like smooth sailing, but by the time 7:45am rolls around, I’m literally dragging children out of chairs and off of floors and into boots and coats. The physicality of it is exhausting, but so is the fact that I can’t figure out how this happens every. single. day. They always want to play more, they all of a sudden want more to eat, or leaving time is the exact perfect time for one of them to decide they have to poop.
They always want to play more, they all of a sudden want more to eat, or leaving time is the exact perfect time for one of them to decide they have to poop.
We aim to leave the house by 8am, but sometimes, by the time all the arguing is done, it’s more like 8:15 or 8:20. We know we’re late if we see the neighborhood school bus on our street before we’ve left.
8:00am-9:00am: This is it. The home stretch. We drive down to the little one’s school first since the older one can’t go in until 8:45am. If we’re doing good on time, we sometimes stop for coffee and a cookie on the way. I have to unstrap both kids to take the younger one into school, but sometimes if the school’s secretary is by the door, she’ll stand by the car for me so I don’t have to drag both kids out. After the first one is out, we head over to school #2. It’s usually around 8:35-8:40 by this time.
I drop off the second one usually right in the nick of time (his school is about 15 minutes away without traffic and he has to be in by 9am). With both of them safely inside their schools for the day, I set off for home (7 minutes from the public school). With the impending pickup time looming in my head, the pressure is on to get in as much work as possible until the clock strikes proverbial midnight and I transform back into mom.