We’ve entered the age of the frenzied morning. We had a whole year of school mornings and tumbling out the door together under our belt when this school year started, but we’ve also got a new set of proclivities and habits and personal preferences to manage from two growing kids. Mornings for the past month have emerged as more challenging than before.
One of the children in this tiny apartment rather likes to hop directly into school clothes. The other likes to eat several partial breakfasts starting at 6:00 am and running right up until the moment a toothbrush is being pointed in their direction. Someone always remembers to pee only after putting on their shoes and starting to walk downstairs. Someone (me) always lingers too long over their first cup of coffee and feels blindsided by the time.
My kids aren’t resistant to getting themselves ready for school. Indeed, they’re both pretty fiercely independent when it comes to taking responsibility for themselves. But the challenge for all of us (with the exception of James who is generally a slightly maddeningly cheerful morning person) has been to marry our opposing need for a slow, sleepy morning with the need to deliberately and intentionally ready ourselves for the day. Believe me, I want to hang out in my pajamas and nibble on a third breakfast, too.
So, we made a checklist. The kids painted wooden discs and we glued magnetic strips to the back and together we came up with a list of things that we really need to do before heading out the door in the morning. (Rest assured: Their first iteration was filled with ideas that are decidedly not requirements for early morning preparedness.)
The list is for them as much as for me. At two-and-a-half, Silas is still most interested in taking his magnets out of the bag that hangs on the doorknob and stacking them. At five, Faye is very into checking items off the list—the biggest deliberation in the morning being whether or not to complete tasks in order. (Anything goes from my perspective.) At 35, the list keeps me focused. And less caught off guard when it’s time to leave and the kids still haven’t brushed their teeth or combed their hair. With a list to remind us all of the basic necessities we need to accomplish before hustling out the door, we’re less likely to find ourselves in the hallway with one kid missing socks and one kid without a water bottle in their backpack. Most importantly, we’re all less likely to end up exasperated.
It’s an interesting and humbling part of being a parent: realizing what behaviors we come by naturally and what needs to be learned, or shaped, or cajoled into being. For us, and for our kids. For right now, I’m happy to report that this simple checklist is keeping us more focused, less frazzled, and happily independent. Cheers to that.