Melissa calls sunny Florida her home, but even without coats, it’s still a challenge to get her four kids, ages 8, 7, 5, and 5 weeks, out the door by 8:45 a.m. for swim team practice. With her husband gone by the time she gets up to nurse for the first time, mornings can feel especially chaotic. Since Melissa works as a freelance writer out of her home office, her commute is only as long as it takes to reheat her coffee for the 15th time!
My Morning Juggle
5:45 a.m. It’s a good morning! My newborn son gets up to breastfeed when it’s going to be light out within the hour. I was up at 3 a.m. to nurse him too, so, well, to say I feel out of it is like saying his diaper isn’t super scary when I peek inside. I get poop on the sheets of my bed while changing him. Sigh. Guess I’ll be adding those to the mountain of laundry that is now officially blocking the dryer.
Confession: I know I’ll doze off on the poopy sheets, which are also stained with breast milk and spit-up, until my older kids come into my room to wake me up later.
6:23 a.m. Another feeding is in the books. After gulping down the last of the water I keep by my bedside (nursing makes me crazy thirsty), I swaddle the baby and place him in his bassinet, moving slowly and carefully as if I’m underwater so as not to wake him.
I could definitely use a little more sleep, and my girls won’t be up for about another half an hour. Every minute counts, so I roll over without even pulling my shirt down over my nursing bra. I ignore a text from my husband. That can wait, but my heavy eyelids cannot.
7:30 a.m. Gloriously, my kids didn’t barge into my bedroom until now. My oldest daughter has just started brushing her teeth and hair and getting dressed on her own without me having to ask her a million times. As for the other two, well, we’ll get there. Eventually. My 7- and 5-year-olds are still in pajamas, and the back of their heads look like a bird could move in, it’s such a tangled nest of slept-on hair. When the girls lean over to kiss their baby brother, I smell their morning breath. Cute. But they’ll need to brush before we head out.
7:32 a.m. I ask the girls to sit with their brother so I can hit the bathroom. I have just enough time to speed pee, brush my teeth, and wash my face before I hear him cry out. He’s due to eat again. Already. I swap out my breast pads and decide that, yes, the shorts and tank top I slept in look like real clothes. And no, they don’t smell enough for me to bother changing now. As for makeup? Ha ha. Hilarious! I’ll have time for that again when my youngest is in kindergarten. I run a brush through my hair so I won’t scare the other moms at drop-off. Then it’s back to bed to feed the little man before he self-destructs.
While I finish up feeding the baby, my girls are getting breakfast in the kitchen. I hear them negotiate over who will get the purple bowl. I smile with pride that they have taken on more responsibility since their brother was born. Soon I’m done nursing, during which time I determined my inbox doesn’t contain any urgent emails, and I head into the kitchen with the little one. The girls have spilled milk on the counter and the floor. There are Cheerios scattered everywhere. But they’re eating a breakfast they assembled without my help, so I can’t complain.
8 a.m. I eat a few Cheerios off the counter. This will be my only breakfast until later, once I have dropped the kiddos off and had at least one cup of coffee. I mean, who can eat before they’ve had caffeine? Instead of making myself food, I change the baby out of PJs into a clean onesie and shorts. Where is his pacifier? A house-wide search ensues, and my middle daughter finally fishes it out from underneath my bed. I wash off the pacifier with dish soap and offer it to the baby, who is quite happy with the reunion.
8:05 a.m. I decide I’ll hit Starbucks en route to swim practice rather than make coffee at home. I’m working one-handed, cradling my son in one arm and cleaning up the kitchen with the other. My girls have made a hasty exit to finish getting ready. I hear our dog barking and remember someone has to take her out before we leave. Since my oldest is nowhere to be found, I pull the younger girls away from their tasks selecting bathing suits and putting way too much toothpaste on their toothbrushes and ask them to leash up the Beagle. I’ll watch them from the driveway, but at least I don’t have to get dragged up and down the sidewalk while trying to balance my son on my arm.
8:15 a.m. Dog’s taken care of. Kitchen won’t attract ants. I make sure the girls get back on track with suits and teeth, assure my middle daughter I will get around to washing her favorite one-piece (this century), and do a check of the diaper bag. Diapers, wipes, changing pad, extra outfit, my wallet, and keys. OK. Now I’m calling out to the girls with a checklist of what they need in their swim bags: towel, goggles, swim caps, flippers, water bottle. I think we are good to go.
8:23 a.m. We are putting on sunscreen on the back patio. Then it’s time for everyone to try on the potty. This is a task my 5-year-old despises. Because apparently she never has to go. Until she HAS TO GO NOW! I am engaged in a hot negotiation with a kindergartner about why she should have to try to pee before we go somewhere. I attempt not to lose my cool, but I’m exhausted and feel like we do this every morning. Ugh! “JUST GO!” I finally holler at her. The guilt sets in immediately, but after stomping her foot and growling, yes, growling, at me, she listens.
8:30 a.m. I decide I cannot go out in public without a hat and sunglasses, so I put on my sleep-deprivation disguise, and, yup, my son’s little buns explode in his diaper. I quickly change him and then make the horrible mistake of peeking into my 7-year-old’s bedroom. Unless a tornado ripped through it overnight, there is no excuse for what I’m seeing. Crumpled-up papers, books, clothes, dolls, and toys are scattered across the floor. I think the floor is still under there. I inform her she must at least unearth her carpet before we leave for practice. Luckily, she doesn’t argue with me. I’m guessing it’s because she knows from experience I get scary before I’ve had my coffee.
8:45 a.m. I call for the kids to get their flip-flops and meet me at the front door. I ask my oldest daughter to watch her brother, who I’ve secured in his car seat, while I go outside and start the air conditioning in the car. After a few minutes, we all head onto the driveway and I herd the crew into our SUV. There’s some bickering over who got in first last time. My 5-year-old claims she needs a Band-Aid. I see that my 7-year-old’s sunscreen isn’t really rubbed in. My son’s pacifier hits the ground. But we made it! I pull out of the driveway and call role. Everyone is here and accounted for, dressed, fed, and only one of the big kids didn’t brush her teeth.
9 a.m. Girls are dropped off. I’m waiting in the drive-through line at Starbucks. Baby is sleeping in his car seat. Deep breath. I don’t have a work deadline for a few hours, so I should have enough time to gulp down a Venti, breastfeed again, probably in the parking lot, and pick up the girls from practice in time. Fingers crossed!
Image Source: Melissa Willets
PARENTING TIPSTHE JUGGLE