When it comes to the morning routine, if there was ever going to be one giant parenting manual and not several millions of them floating around in the world, then I am sure there would be one absolute definite piece of parenting knowledge that would be accurate for all parents new and old. That is, the good old morning routine. The various parenting sounds can be heard from chimney tops and open windows or doors of every household on the entire planet. The general hum of words like socks, shoes, teeth, why, where, sometimes you even catch the “I’ve asked 5 times now…” or “Get off the…”, “right, that’s it…”. It doesn’t matter how many mornings these words are said or how many days the routine remains unchanged, the same words spill out our mouths every, single day.
One of these so-called parenting manuals I read as a new mother told me that routine was important. Routine provides security and comfort and allows the child to know what is happening each day. I am totally on board with this notion. I am a routine person and I like to be organised. I followed all of the advice but my child seems to have forgotten the routine 5 mornings a week. When you tell them it is timed to get dressed, it’s like you have asked them to cut off their right arm. The desperate wails cried out after being told at the same time every day that it is time to put on their shoes. The blatant silence when mummy says “mummy is leaving in 15 minutes” which actually means that mummy is, in fact, leaving in 15 minutes so now is the time to finish what you need to do in order be ready. The laughter that drowns you out asking to take their undies off their heads and if possible can we save it for the weekend? And no the undies now don’t go on the dog, they go on your body, which means then spending a further 20 minutes instructing them that they need a fresh pair.
I have even tried the whole get ready now and once you are ready you will have at least half an hour to play Lego or watch that show on television or run around like a lunatic. I don’t really mind, AS LONG AS YOU ARE READY! Even that doesn’t work. It is like they then take even longer to get ready. I thought play time would win them over, but it has little effect. Telling them they can walk to school in their pyjamas doesn’t even really cut it. Because let’s face it they are smart enough to know that mummy loves them and they can sense the mum guilt oozing out of me.
I know you are with me on this. Every parent around the world suffers this routine dilemma. And there is no one who knows how to fix it, short of offering marshmallows or chocolate biscuits at 7am in the morning. I have tried the reward charts and stickers but to be honest, both I and the kids can’t keep it up longer than about 3 days. Their attention span of making it to the end of the week is over by about day 3 and by the time I get myself ready for work I have completely forgotten about stickers and charts too. And I have generally forgotten to take the chicken out of the freezer too.
It often feels like no matter how organised I am, it doesn’t change. I have all the uniforms ironed and ready, breakfast is on the table by around 7.15am, lunches are made by 7.30am. So there is plenty of time but I still have to ask everything at least 6 times. There are times when I am just fed up and I get cross. After take 3 or 4, I sometimes lose my shit. Then I end up feeling really crappy for the rest of the day because that time should be lovely. I want to be those people on the ads who all sit and enjoy breakfast together and laugh and the kids are already dressed and ready. Well, that isn’t going to happen because breakfast would be half over their uniforms and I am shovelling toast in my mouth while doing my makeup. I try to be patient but sometimes the sound of my own voice over and over is just too much to bear. I mean, if I am sick of the sound of my own voice, aren’t they? Look out for my pre-recorded mum commands tape that can be placed on shuffle or loop coming Term 2. I am sure I am onto something big here.
The manuals and books never prepared me for these mornings. But nothing ever really prepares you for anything in parenting. The highs and the lows. The chaos and yelling crossed with the infinite love. I hope that when my children look back on their childhood, it isn’t the nagging mother yelling at them to put their socks on telling them tuckshop is cancelled this week. I hope they remember all the other bits in between those moments, like the actual moments we do run around with our undies on our heads. In between the frantic mornings are the 25 cuddles, 37 kisses to the tops of the head and telling them I love them at the school gate 8 times. It will never change (well allowing me to yell out I love you at the school gate will definitely change) and possibly get harder as they become teenagers and I actually have to pull them out of bed instead of cuddle out of bed. But with all things in parenting, we will take it in our stride and I will probably laugh and miss these times when we I am 85 drinking coffee with a small shot of rum in it. Because currently as a parent that isn’t acceptable but I am sure it will be by then.