15 Sep 2013

5 ways we survive school mornings

It occurs to me how much I miss on the days when I’m frustrated.

On the days when I hurry them through brushing teeth and climbing bunk bed ladders and demands for just one more sip of water. On evenings when I rush and mutter and long for the solace of bed and laptop and online. On mornings when I rush to find lost shoes, chug down honey nut Cheerios and pack lunches and stuffed bears.

How much does the rush cost me?

We want to be on time, yes. But on time and frayed around the edges, on time and in tears, on time and relieved to be parting ways is no one’s win-win.

The rush is all mine. I can choose to shelter them from it or not.

The clock is all mine. I can choose to dictate from it or not.

The rhythm is all mine. I can choose to dance to it or not.

Because the melody of any day ebbs and flows around a mother’s mood.

And if I can set my mood by the desire to send them off at peace and full of the knowing that they mattered then they will have a gift to unwrap the rest of the day.

Knowing that they mattered to their mother more than her to-dos.

And yes, I hear you saying that there are things we can’t actually be late for. And to-dos must be done sometime or lives will unravel. I agree, I do.

But I am learning to tell the difference between the rush of the doing vs. the gifting of the doing.

I am learning to spot the wonder in the ordinary. Because if it is all a gift to me from the Father who gives good things, why don’t I re-gift it to my kids before we rush out the door?

Time and again I have to reel my fast, wagging, frustrated tongue in and slow down the crazy that’s about to spill out of me. And because we do still need to be on time these are the things I’m trying out in order to get us there with tempers and kind words in tact:

5 steps to survive school mornings

This doesn’t make breakfast any more nutritious than a bowl of cereal or a bagel and cream cheese most mornings. But it does make us all feel filled up in the ways that matter most. Some mornings we still snap and no one brushes their teeth and car doors are slammed. But other mornings – more mornings these days – there is time factored in for slow. Time factored in for connecting before parting.

Hard hugs.

We don’t have big prayers or profound Bible readings – but we have the heart of the thing. The rhythm of secure kids and restrained parents. There is give and take. An episode of Mighty Machines if breakfast is eaten. Time with the hamster if teeth have first been brushed. A half hour of swashbuckling in the yard if they’re dressed in full ready-to-leave-from-the-yard-when-mom-calls clothes.

If I want our kids’ morning routine to work I have to work the hardest at keeping it together. Myself first. My tongue, my temper and my temptation to dish out blame for being late.

So I take a deep breath when I’m lying there listening to Zoe start to wake up, before I can will myself out of bed. I take a deep breath and picture the hand of the carpenter who lived over 2,000 years ago – rough and strong and tender – ready to lead me into the dance. There will be crazy and whining and bed head. There will be the same red cereal bowl and yellow spoon Micah’s used a hundred mornings before.

There will be trails of socks and cries that someone is out of undies. There will be missing library books and someone who insists on wearing his camouflage pants again. There will be a raggedy toy bear and a baby that trails around behind every body, unpacking everything.

But on the very best mornings, oh yes on the best mornings, there will also be dancing at our house.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    I struggle with being grouchy Mama ALL THE TIME! Thanks for the gentle reminder of how much I’m missing in the rush and how much I’m setting a tone that’s not the one I intend.

  2. 2

    Well timed…thank you! Your advice to “Say words that sound good stuck on repeat” might be one of the best pieces of advice for mothering. Thank you for the challenge!!! I’m convicted…and convinced!!

  3. 3

    What a wonderful reminder!!! My daughter and I like to take time to twirl in the sunshine before getting in the car each morning.

  4. 4

    From an elementary teacher: some children come to school as soon as the doors open, and some come into class as the tardy bell is ringing. The ones who come in early ALWAYS have a better day: less stressful and more pleasant. I promise you parents that 15 fewer minutes of sleep will not hurt you or your children, and it most certainly will have you blessing their day rather than blessing them out.

  5. 5

    Always the dancing! Makes our mornings turn around in a heartbeat. Thanks for the tips!

  6. 6

    I agree w/Janet…”Say words that sound good stuck on repeat” is going to my first step. If this is all a gift from our Heavenly Father then you’re right, re-gifting it to our kids should be natural. Thanks for the reminders!

  7. 7

    there are many times that moms cannot say “it gets easier” … school mornings, I can assure you, DO get easier. I still b.m.w. about getting up 3 1/2 hours before I have to be at work so that I can start the day with a family meal and get supper in the crockpot because the days are LONG at this age (kiddo has school til 4, sports til 6; dh & I both work full time outside the home and I’m a full time student).

    Starting the day with a family meal (thankfully we’re all on ‘day shift’ right now) and then kiddo and I get ready after dh leaves for work … there are days when I say “sign me up now for assisted living” but there are days that are awesome too :)


  8. 8

    I love the ” Say words tht sound good stuck on repeat.” Will write it down and stick it on the dashboard of my car.

  9. 9

    Crying as I read this…. Thank you!

  10. 10

    BRILLIANT! Thanks for making me feel normal & sane! The same happens in my house most mornings in sunny SA. Boy oh boy are we trying to dance & laugh more x

  11. 11

    Beautiful piece on peace. Same is true at bedtime, storybook time maybe all together when the children were very young, and then each separately when they got older. What child doesn’t look forward to a good story and snuggle time with a loving parent.

  12. 12

    I hear you loud and clear… as I’m pushing the envelope of my own morning to get this written and sent off before I wake the kids and we start the rush. Ahhhh, the peace! Wanted to share my own thoughts on the rush, a blog I wrote back in August: http://compassiontea.wordpress.com/2013/08/17/compassion-in-the-car/

    Read with a cup of Compassion Tea in hand!

  13. 13

    Sounds like you might have recently read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. If you haven’t, I HIGHLY recommend it! :)

  14. 14

    LOVE this article, speaks directly to my heart. Sharing on my fb page now!

  15. 15

    This is so good and sounds so familiar. Thank you for the tips for making our mornings go more smoothly. My daughter is a junior and my son is in eighth grade this year… the years and mornings I have left with them at home will be gone before I know it. I want to enjoy every single one without rushing and bossing and dictating and demanding. More music, more love, more laughter…

  16. 16

    Just today I was faced with the question: Are you living the life that you want to live and if you aren’t, what is it?

    My answer surprised me, not for being unfamiliar, but for the simplicity and attainability of the life I want. It’s simply living with a breath, that one breath I need, beside me at all times, so that in a moment poised on panic, frustration, or anger, I can draw that beautiful breath and open up the space to roll through the bad and lift back up on the beauty that is in every day with my beautiful children and loving husband.

    Thank you for this poignant reminder.

  17. 17

    I think clean undies are overrated and school should start with “ish” at the end. Ya know, like “9ish” :)

  18. 18

    Lisa, I have recently started taking this approach and what a difference it has made. My 17 yo daughter can still drive me to snap sometimes, but my boys (6 & 4) have not because I made the choice to be happier in the mornings. I don’t feel relief (as often) anymore, I feel love and sadness at saying goodbye. I miss them during the day and look forward to seeing them when I pick them up from aftercare. Thank you for sharing your heart, as always, and reminding me not to rush through these years, because all too soon they will be grown. My daughter is enjoying her Sr. year of HS and on July 9, she will ship out to Navy boot camp. I am trying to soak every minute with her, though, as a teenager, she’s trying to keep me at arm’s length, but I do get a few moments, and those I will treasure for years to come. :)

  19. 19

    Turning up the tunes definitely boosts my morning. Of course I don’t have school aged kids yet to hurry me thru my day, but I understand on the days when we need to eat breakfast and get out the door for play group or something else like library story time. Great advice!

  20. 20

    Yes, yes! Slowing down the rush is what I’m trying to practice after years of not. Just remember, mamas, the seeds of rush you might be planting now will develop into a harvest of rush. I know because now it’s me who wants to slow down and my boys are always wanting to rush, rush, rush. BUT He is full of grace and mercy and faithfulness as I seek to plant new seeds that I know will also eventually produce a harvest : )

  21. 21

    I’m so guilty of this. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t always have to rush. Oh and I love the line “Because the melody of any day ebbs and flows around a mother’s mood,” because it’s SO true.

  22. 22

    Great post! I have adapted some of the things you discussed. It has really made a difference. My 7 year old daughter has taught me to slow down, on school mornings, she lingers from time to time. Both of my kids love music and I love knowing that I influenced that, we enjoy multi genres of music. Kids feed off of their parents, so whatever example they are seeing from us, that’s more than likely what they will showcase. Thank for this post!

  23. 23

    I really loved the way you described the Savior’s hand, ” strong and tender”. That is what I want my hands to be like for my family also.

  24. 24

    And smile. Watch for the difference when you make a concerted effort to LOOK at your child, and smile at them. Everything changes.

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