There is no such thing as a “typical” morning around here once my four wild ones wake up bright eyed and bushy-tailed — just a combination of snuggles, tears, coffee refills, juice spills, and a whole lot of giggles. Unfortunately, my kids never seem to give me a heads up as to what might come first on this loose “schedule.”
I know that when I look back on this brief time spent with my kids each morning, my heart will swell. I already know how much I’ll ache for these days once they are gone — the ones where pancakes topped with colorful sprinkles make me the “best mommy in the whole wide world,” and staying in our pajamas all snuggled up on the couch makes me even better.
But when I’m in the thick of these moments and living them out day by day, sometimes minute by minute, it doesn’t always feel so joyful. I find myself irritated flipping through what’s got to be a million cartoons, only to have at least one of my children still throw a fit over what is chosen (in a house of this size, sorry, kid — majority rules).
I want to drink my coffee hot, but there are four little ones who need their apple juice pronto. And no matter how cuddly I want to be with them in these hours, at times, I have mountains of work I have to finish. So I stand up, pry the little people from my legs, and start my day with the type of sulking heaviness only the dreaded mom guilt brings.
I guess you could say that I’m just like every other mother out there… struggling to prioritize myself in the hustle and bustle of spreading myself among so many. “I need a break” is a reoccurring mantra around here — one that makes its appearance in my mind before I’ve even started thinking about what’s for lunch. Because I do need a break; we all do. But for so many of us, finding those brief lapses of solitude in our days doesn’t come without adjusting our schedules or without some type of personal cost.
Some moms stay glued to their reality television show until 3 a.m., eating all of the ice cream their kids asked for throughout the day and doing so without a sliver of remorse. These people are my people. Sadly, however, I can’t stay up extra late at night without turning into the Loch Ness Monster by morning. (I mean… I morph into something terribly crabby.)
So for my sake, as well as my entire family’s sake, I wake up early and start my day solo.
Instead of flipping pancakes with two toddlers spider-monkeyed to my legs, I get to cook while listening to a podcast or humming my new favorite song. I have time to take a lengthy, hot, and (most importantly) uninterrupted shower without a hundred kids running inside, pulling back the curtain, and exposing my naked bum. I can put a face mask on, do my hair for a change — and I’ve even been known to find the time to prep my kids a healthy lunch. (Yay me.)
But despite everything I can accomplish before my day has even really begun, the thing I treasure the most is finally finding the freedom and space to just be. To relax. To meditate. To sit on the front porch and watch the sun rise while my hands are warmed by my favorite Mother’s Day mug. We all need that time, those moments of mindfulness that better prepares us for yet another chaotic day of motherhood.
The thing is, though, we have to be the ones to take the initiative and find it. Because no matter how great a support system we may have, or how loving our partner may be, nobody else can make us tend to ourselves in the way we deserve — that is something we must do on our own. And no, that doesn’t mean that it will always be easy. But the most rewarding things in this life never are.
I think about hitting my snooze button on my alarm clock (the actual clock, not the children) every single morning. It takes dedication, bribery, and the promise of coffee for me to keep up with this routine. And if I’m to be totally honest, sometimes I do hit that snooze button when I can’t muster the energy — and that’s okay. We all need days of rest. But when I fall back into this pattern for long periods of time, I can feel myself mentally backsliding.
I’m not as happy, I usually end up wearing the same sweatpants for multiple days in a row, I’m irritable, and I struggle to remember when I last took a shower. With the way my schedule works, and so many other mothers’ schedules, there isn’t enough time for ourselves unless we make it.
So I make that time in the morning.
I wake up before the birds start chirping, tip-toe around the staircase near my kids’ bedrooms, start the coffee, and set some time aside to prioritize my own wants and needs.
Sure, I sacrifice my sleep. But the thing is, by waking up before my kids, I give myself the opportunity to start each day with a full cup.