Wednesday, October 21, 2009

the morning routine

In the the fabulous story of "the day the goose got loose" the narrator tells us "When the goose got loose, my dad was annoyed. He said it wasn't a day he enjoyed. His morning routine was completely destroyed, the day the goose got loose"

One of the toughest challenges of the working parent (at least for those of us with a traditional 9-5 type of gig) is the morning routine. Even if you don't have a goose. Unless you are wealthy enough to have a live in nanny, or lucky enough to have your mum come and take care of your kids every day, every morning is a marathon of breakfast making, lunchbox packing, hair brushing, child dressing, show and tell, or check for soccer club, or payment for school photo remembering, and leaving a dried cows ear (or worse) for the dog walker - to give the dog to prevent her chewing on the furniture while we are out).

They say that working mothers of young children (and no doubt fathers too if they do it right) are great multitaskers, I would hypothesize that it is the ability to get everyone out of the house every day that hones these skills. I know that if we have a good morning, I'm flying for the rest of the day. Any couple who can get two kids dressed in clean attractive clothing, each with a healthy lunch, out of the house smiling and cheerful, are ready to tackle anything the day can throw at them.

Of course the alternative, someone who spends a precious half hour persuading a three year old that she can't wear her ballet leotard to school, pours sour milk on everyone's cereal after accidentally opening the fridge door slap bang into the toddler's head thus starting a twenty minute conniption fit, then straps two howling kids into their car seats while the neighbours look on sympathetically, and then realizes half way to the office that she has left her laptop at home (or possibly on the sidewalk next to where the car was parked), and has also forgotten to put on deodorant, is ready to crawl into a nice dark cave before the day has even begun.

This morning was a good one. We tend to take the good for granted, but I am determined to notice our successes, since the fulcrum on which good and bad mornings are balanced is a very sensitive one. You see, one of our great morning routine destroyers is the ritual of putting on socks and shoes. Geekygirl is very particular about her socks. She hates the seams to rub against her feet so wears her socks inside out. This would be fine, if several of her socks did not have those rubberized anti slip letters on the bottom. These cannot be worn inside out, and are not acceptable. Some socks without letters are still unacceptable. I have bought several batches of letter free socks, but have yet to figure out exactly how she decides which socks meet her exacting standards. So she has to try on at least three pairs of socks before selecting one. Now I do my best to keep up with laundry, but matching all the pairs of teeny socks in the house is beyond even my organizational skills, and being asked to find the pair to a single acceptable sock (seam free toes, from Nordstrom, I should have bought the store out of these) when there is a whole drawer full of socks that are to my eye perfectly OK, drives me batty.

This morning Geekygirl decided to wear tights. She never wears tights, I have a drawer full of unworn brand new pairs, but one of her classmates always wears them, and today Geekygirl wanted to be "like Audrey". She pulled on one pair of tights. Tights can be tricky for the uninitiated, but I was firmly told not to help. After she struggled we established that the chosen pair of tights was rather small, so she agreed, without even the hint of a tantrum, to try another pair. These worked out better, though she was fiddling with the wrinkles in them all morning. Still, she looked sweet in the tights and a pink dress, she cheerfully munched two bowls of cereal, played nicely with her brother as we got everything ready to go, and sat down to put her shoes on without even being asked. Then I noticed her pulling at the toes of the tights. Shit, I thought to myself. The toe seams are on the insides. She is about to pull those tights of and try to turn them inside out, which will result in a major breakdown, complete removal of all her clothes, and a twenty minute tantrum where she refuses to wear anything else but her ballet outfit.

I needed a distraction, and quick. "Which kid, with shoes on, wants to give the dog her first cookie? I called. Geekybaby was hot tailing it to the cookie distribution post, his shoes having been applied to his feet earlier, and this spurred Geekygirl's competitive edge. Her brother is rarely allowed to do anything first. She strapped up her shoes (thank goodness for velcro, if kids still had to lace or buckle their own shoes I think I would have thrown in the towel long ago), ran over and got the cookie. "Lets get out of here before she remembers that her tights are uncomfortable" I mouthed to Geekydaddy, and we set off down the stairs, chattering and giggling and the very picture of a happy successful family.

Disaster averted. Tomorrow is another day!


Expat mum said...

Sometimes it's like being shot out of a canon in our house, although we get up an hour before we need to leave. I have two teenagers and a 6 year old so the little guy is really the only one I need to help. I do spend an awful lot of time shouting at the older two that it is getting very close to departure time though.

followthatdog said...

Ug, we've just taken to bribing the boys based on our bad morning this week. They each get a quarter if they get out of the house without a hassle. We'll see how long this works. (and so you know, I have a similar post half written. Maybe it is something special about 3 year olds!)

goonerjamie said...

I currently have 2 packs of tights for my 4 year old unopened, as the thought of trying to manhandle (literally in my case) her into them fills me with total dread. I also encourage odd-sock days whenever I can't find the correct match.

Natty said...

I have got to say I laughed out loud whilst reading your "morning routine" blog. I have 4 children aged 8, 4, 3 and 2. The three youngest are girls - so you can just imagine the fashion tantrums I get in the morning!! I have now resorted to leaving a pair of shoes, a hair brush and a selection of hair bands in the car at all times, so my children can put them on whilst we drive our 15 minutes to school each morning. I figure that it's alot easier to make them wear that one pair of shoes if there is obviously no alternative in the car, and alot easier to make them sit still and brush their hair when they are firmly strapped into their car seats. . . . but then, escaping from car seat straps is another story. Keeo writing. Natalie

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