How we (try) to survive our mornings.

Ever since school started back up, things have been NUTS. With a new boss at work and lots of new students, things have been a little chaotic (but i'm finally all caught up again, thank goodness). With a kiddo in kindergarten and one in daycare, mornings are borderline nightmares. It usually goes something like this:

- 6am: Alarm goes off. I hit snooze and swear to get up at 6:05am.
- 615am: I finally roll my sleepy butt out of bed after hitting the snooze button twice more.
- 620-640am: Do the things I should've done the night before but was too tired to do (finish washing bottles, iron clothes, pack bags).
- 640-7am: Intend to get myself ready for work, but then Mia wakes up screaming for a bottle. Get her changed and ready for the day, but keep her in her PJs because she likes to have blowouts, and I'd rather her do that in her PJs than the clothes I just ironed.
- 7am-710am: Play with Mia. Because, come on. She's cute. And fun. And likes when I make faces at her.
- 710-725am: Hurriedly get ready for work, all while trying to get JJ to get out of bed. So far, he's still snoring away. During this time, Mia isn't happy I put her down, so I give her my cell phone to chew on. I also usually forget to pack something (lunch, extra diapers, something for work), so I'm trying to do that while doing everything else.
- 725-730am: Finally shake JJ awake and have him drag himself to the kitchen for breakfast, which is now cold and needs to be reheated (usually oatmeal, hot chocolate/crackers, cereal or eggs/smoothie). Fix his hair and try to get him changed while he munches on breakfast.
- Intend to get out the door by 740am (the earliest i can drop jj off at school), but we usually get out closer to 745am. Then I deal with the school drop-off line, then drive Mia to daycare and get to work. As you probably figured, I don't make it on time most mornings.

I didn't think it would be this hard to get us through the morning unscathed, but it seriously is. Our morning routine usually puts me in a bad mood (one that i don't let show until i'm alone in the car and can scream it out while driving to work), so I know we need to make changes/adjustments. After doing some Googling and retweaking, I think I have a solution we can try.

The problem isn't that I don't have enough time in the morning; the problem is that because I have no energy at night. I don't eat well, I don't sleep well, and I'm running from the time I get up until the time the kids are in bed (which usually winds up being my bedtime, too). To handle my crazy days and not crash out, I found some great energy-boosting snack ideas that I can keep at my desk (like apples and peanut butter, or hummus and chips) and get me through the afternoon. In recent days, I started to implement a few simple things that will hopefully help us out in the long run:

1. I try to get everything done for the next day the night before. I've started letting JJ pick out his clothes the night before, then I iron all of our clothes while he's settling into bed. I let bottles soak while we're eating dinner and wash after the kids go to bed. I fold laundry while catching up on TV shows or the news. I pack of all our bags and set them by the door - along with my keys - before bed. I try to multi-task as much as possible so I can get things done quickly.

2. I stay much more organized than I did during the summer. My Erin Condren life planner has become a lifesaver. I use it to track everything, from things JJ needs for school to meal plans to upcoming appointments. I carry it everywhere and keep lots of things in it (from stamps to coupons). I use my Google calendar for everything, too, and have it set up to send me text/email reminders when really important things are coming up. I have a small whiteboard on the side of my fridge that I use for grocery items, recipes I want to look up and other miscellaneous things. I know most people probably don't need all that stuff to stay organized, but I do - and they help.

3. I now get up earlier (barf). I hate mornings. I am not, by any means, an early riser. But if I can start my mornings on the calm side and not feel so rushed, it helps all of us have a better morning. It also helps when Mia decides she wants to hang out with me at 645am.

4. I try not to sweat the small stuff. If I don't get the entire house picked up the night before, or forget to vacuum, so what? Spending time with my kids is more important than making sure the dishwasher is empty. I've struggled with keeping a clean home and a happy family since JJ was born, and I've started to let go of that a little bit more as I've adjusted to a household with two kiddos. It all eventually gets done anyway.

5. I set a timer while cleaning and give myself 15 minutes to get certain areas done. I am a procrastinator at heart, so if I don't time myself, it'll take me three hours to clean (because i stop to watch TV, or i stop to eat a snack, whatever). So I've now started setting a time in my procrastinator areas - the bathroom, the kitchen and the laundry - and give myself 15 minutes to get through it. The dishes sometimes take longer, and the toilet by itself can take 15 minutes to clean because the cleaner needs to soak in...but that's OK. Once the timer is set and I'm moving, it keeps me on track so I get things done quicker.

6. I drink more coffee than I ever have in my life. I used to only have a cup every few days, but now I'm having 1-2 cups every day. I never drank that much coffee in college. As life slows down, I'll cut down on it, but for now, it's an essential survival tool for this mama running a single parent household.

I was naive in thinking that I could manage everything on my own once school got back into full swing. Even though we had the last two months of school last school year where I was working and dropping kids off, things just seem so much more chaotic this school year. My hope is that as we adjust to this new routine, things will get better and I can add in more things - home cooked breakfasts, workouts, better meal plans - that I want to do but just don't have the time and energy to do now. We will get there. I know we will.

And, because I can, and this blog post was super long - random posts of my babies. They are the best.