The Problem

So no, I don’t mean the workout video, but kudos to you if by 6am you’ve already been bustin’ a move with Shaun T for an hour. I’ll cheer you on. From my bed, I mean, um, treadmill.

I’m a single parent and I work full time starting around 5am. While I am lucky enough this year to get to walk my kids to school most days, I don’t like, roll up in a Mercedes SUV sporting my “workout” clothes like the other moms in the carpool lane.  Please note that a) I drive a nine  year old Honda, b) I try to follow the “are you wearing pants” guidelines and, more importantly, and c) after drop off I have to kick it into professor gear faster than you can say Princess Diana of Themyscira.

Easy enough, right? I mean, I get up three hours before the kids do, so. . . um, sure we will be on time. Add the fact that this particular five and eight year old get distracted by the tiniest of tiny things while attempting to get dressed (“what do you mean I’ve been sitting on my floor in my underwear for 30 minutes mom? I saw something shiny there and then I just kind of, well, stared at if for awhile….”) and you’ve got a recipe for disaster lurking in every morning.

Previously, the morning routine at my house used to look something a little more similar to say, a scene from that show “Malcolm in the Middle” than it did “Leave It To Beaver.” I mean June made it look so easy, probably all that whiskey she put in her coffee, but I digress…. Let’s just agree it would suffice to say that there was a lot of yelling, rushing and tears in the morning.

Finally tired of starting every day in a communal bad mood, I launched “Operation Morning Zen.” I am happy to report that while we aren’t operating a 100% every day, there are a lot more smiles, a lot less arguing and overall just a lot more happy days going down on our casa. Now to move on to the dinner and bedtime madness. My Jedi training continues…

Here’s to putting the FUN back in functional! Looking forward to hearing your comments, stories and other tips.

Happy Parenting!

Operation Morning Zen- Top Ten Strategies for Chilling out Your Morning Vibe

1. Make a list, together, of all the things the kids should do each morning, then type it up (use clip art icons for non-readers), print out 10 copies (because they are sooooo going to lose it, but not on purpose…) and put one list in each kids bedroom and one on the kitchen counter. Our list has about 10 things on it, from brush your teeth, make your bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, clean up your mess, put your shoes and jacket on, go sit in the car with your seatbelt on and don’t move, do not kick your sister, and if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. Oh wait, just kidding, Ignore the last three, that’s just my internal list.

2.The night before- pack everyone a good lunch, Including yourself because no, four cups of coffee do not count as lunch, or a snack, or possibly even water.

3. Also the night before, have the kids pick out their entire outfit and set it out, preferably somewhere highly visible so they don’t “lose it” in the morning. This helps avoid the early morning grogginess induced outfit warfare that I guarantee will ensue otherwise. As for you, at least have an idea of what you are going to wear. Starting with your shoes is a step in the right direction (pun intended). I know you have nothing to wear but pull it together girl. Find at least one skirt you don’t hate and grab a pair of heels you love. I mean, when I really want to wear my turquoise heels I just start there and everything else works itself out. Really. I swear.

4. Get up an hour before everyone else. Have your coffee, tea, breakfast, etc… all in silence. This is the hardest but the best part. Total silence. Ommmmmmmm.

5. Do at least 15 minutes of cardio exercise. Stop making excuses and just do it. You will release endorphins into your system and make it that much harder for you to keep up the “mommy the grouch” routine. Hey, if you’re really coordinated you can walk on your treadmill while drinking coffee and watching E!, I mean, er, the news.

6. Make the kids a healthy breakfast and set it out for them. Make sure to include a good protein, limit sugar and a glass of milk.

7. Set out everything you will each need to walk out of the house with (lunches, backpacks, jackets, shoes, xanax, …) and do the dishes that you left in the sink last night after that second glass of wine just left you too damn tired to deal with it. Setting yourself up to come home to a clean(ish) house after work you is basically sending your future self happiness.

8. Put on internet radio through your bluetooth enabled speaker device. Don’t have one? Get one. Best investment ever. EVER. Try Norah Jones Radio, the Beattles, Jack Johnson, something with a super happy vibe to it. Now go open the kids bedroom doors and let them wake up to music. Resist the urge to high five yourself for being so cool.

9. While the kids wake up and follow their handy little lists, go get yourself ready. Since you were so super organized, they have clothes ready, breakfast on the table and school stuff right in front of their darling (and clean!) little faces. If even the lovely music playing isn’t enough to keep the chill vibe going, separate them into two rooms to eat. Otherwise, ignore all noise that doesn’t indicate immediate physical danger and focus on getting your makeup on while curling your hair because now is not a time to add a trip to the burn unit at the ER; that will totally mess with your flow.

10. Calmly walk your beautiful self with your well dressed, well fed, quiet children out the door, on time. Pat yourself on the back lady, you did it. Now just hold it down on the way there, keep that happiness going, ask your kids great questions about their day ahead that you can follow up on on the drive home later. My favorites are “what is one way you can solve a problem you might encounter today?” and “how can you make someone else’s day better today?”

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