Most days at work, I stare at “that” co-worker with envy. She’s the one who is always dressed immaculately, has her hair done, and never once seems to fully embrace “casual Friday.” Me? I fight the urge to make every day casual (and sometimes, I give in). If I didn’t know better, I would comfort myself with “she must not have kids,” but I know better—she does have kids.
I tell myself that the day I start getting ready, without children yelling for me, crying over nothing, or crawling on my vanity, is the day I will start looking like “that” co-worker or at least the day I stop looking like the employee who literally just rolled out of bed. Until this day comes, I, and other working moms with early risers, will continue to live with these real struggles:
One would think that being woken up by children at 5 o’clock would leave sufficient time for a working mom to cook a well-rounded breakfast for everyone involved. But they will eat at daycare, so do they really need two breakfasts? Instead, time to get ready is bought with crackers, nutrition bars, gummies, and the occasional piece of chocolate—clearly, a much better option than taking five minutes to make breakfast. That would require getting, and staying, out of bed. And once out of bed, anything that earns a moment of peace to get my hair “just right” for the day is worth it, including chocolate.
2. Doing Your Hair
That “just right” look I just mentioned? It is—two out of three days in a row—the messy bun. It’s trendy, right? And so what if it is a little greasy? That’s what dry shampoo is for. When the one day of the week my hair actually gets done, I’m met with “Did you get a haircut?” it becomes clear I’ve virtually mastered and trademarked the messy bun. No, I didn’t get a haircut. I actually just took a shower.
3. General Hygiene/Cleanliness
Speaking of showers, the idea of taking a shower is almost unbearable. Do I wake up at 4:45? Use a little extra dry shampoo? Sport a bun for the third day in a row? Or, take a shower with the littles? The shower is the most unbearable scenario: The girls take all the water and fight over who stands where, all while ogling my lady parts and asking if their boobies will be that big “when they grow up.” Thanks for the compliment girls, but “no thanks” to that scenario. Bun day 3, it is, and extra deodorant.
4. Caffeine Addiction and Coffee Breath
For coffee lovers, caffeine addiction is not a struggle, but rather a heavenly thing. So the fact that early risers provide for time to have at least one cup prior to leaving home for the day may not be seen as a struggle for all. But the headache that comes with skipping it, or forgetting it, or having it spilled (all over your clothes) before being entirely consumed, is. Not to mention the inevitable coffee breath that goes with it (yet another hygiene problem). No one wants to be the employee with coffee breath. But with early rising kiddos, the risk may be worth it. Bring on the mints and cringing co-workers!
5. Monitoring Screen Time
By 7 a.m., my kids have often met their screen time “limits” for the day. This is because, naturally, one or both of them has been up since 5 a.m. If they watch TV or use the iPad, at least I can lie lifelessly next to them, working hard for a few more minutes of sleep. I have to be careful not to breathe too loudly though, or my 4-year-old will poke me and demand that I watch with her. “Watch this Mom, watch this!” I am honey, I am. I swear, Mom just had to blink. Am I frying their brain? I truly hope not.
6. Casual Friday
My favorite—the one day of the week I can look like I fit in with the remainder of the work crowd (except for maybe the previously mentioned, immaculately dressed, co-worker). However, the reality of casual (for me) is that it occurs at least three (ok, let’s be real, four), times per week. Jeans? Check. Work-endorsed hoodie or T-shirt? Check. Tennies or UGGs? Check. Bun day 3? Most likely a check. I like to think I pull it off. Someday, my kids will sleep in, and I will finally look and dress like an employed, working adult. Until then? Casual “Friday” every day!
7. Resorting to Bribery
I’ll do anything for just one more minute of sleep. I would give my children anything, within my power, if they would just sleep in—toys, donuts, chocolate, a trip to the movies, anything. And it’s like they just don’t get it. I can’t even pretend these things are rewards. It’s definitely not a reward when I phrase it, “If you sleep in until your light turns green (yes, I have even attempted the “foolproof” stoplight alarm clock), we can do or get x, y, z in the morning.” Oh well, when you’re sleep deprived, anything goes—including blatant, unashamed bribery.
8. Getting Out of Bed
Seriously, it is just so hard. This struggle to get out of bed is perhaps the catalyst for all other struggles. If I could just get out of bed, I might make breakfast, do my hair, shower, provide brain-stimulating activities for my kids, dress like a professional, and just maybe use less bribery. If I could get out of bed, it would also contribute to stronger coffee breath, but I’m not sure that’s something to strive for. And perhaps, if I weren’t always in denial of the fact that my kids will get up early, I would in fact just get out of bed.
9. Constant Denial
The most serious reality of being a working mom with early riser is denial. I’m sure those people who are early birds or who do not have early risers themselves are thinking of one simple solution: Just go to sleep earlier. The thought has crossed my mind too, but the denial of my reality is so strong that I just can’t. Besides, when your privacy is constantly being invaded before the sun even rises, a girl needs a little time for herself. Thus begins the never-ending cycle of staying up late and being woken up early.
So, good luck to all the working moms out there whose kids torture them in the wee hours of the morning. Actually, good luck to any mothers who are blessed with such “ambitious” children.
Written, with love, in my casual Friday clothes, on a Wednesday, while sporting my day 3 bun