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My family has been through the ringer the last couple of months with our baby Emmett's epilepsy diagnosis and a bunch of other life road blocks, but we are incredibly grateful for the life lessons we've been taught as a result of all the challenges. Some of these lessons have been big ones - like how to truly appreciate the "normal" moments of everyday, how to make the absolute most of our time together, and how to stop stressing about the little things that ultimately don't matter. Others have been smaller and more specific off-shoots of these larger lessons - you know, like how to appreciate the comedic aspects of the sheer amount of urine that ends up on the floor (and on the couch, and in the bed, and on my favorite dress) when potty training a toddler, or, as I'm going to tell you all about in this post, how to find ways to better manage my mornings in an effort to have a productive, more enjoyable day.
Learning how to crush my mornings came about as a matter of necessity. A couple of weeks after we got out of the hospital after a week long stay after Emmett was diagnosed, it was time for Essley to start preschool for the first time. Mornings had already become an intense time in our house, especially when Robbie was on the road for work. Between getting Emmett all of his morning medications, dealing with Essley's uncanny ability to have an accident within seconds of putting on underwear, getting the kids fed and dressed, making and drinking a cup of coffee so I could prevent myself from dozing off on the regs, attempting to squeeze in morning work emails (after already staying up late to meet work deadlines), and somehow pulling myself together to a level that was at least slightly higher than straight up hot mess status, I was feeling pretty freaking frazzled by 9 AM. Once it was time for Essley's school year to start, the level of madness increased exponentially. I'd never had to get a kid ready for school before, and I didn't want to mess up (because if I did, obviously the world would end and stuff). My head felt like it was going to explode. I decided that I needed to take some of those life lessons I'd been learning and apply them to my morning routine, immediately.
It didn't take a lot of thought for me to realize what I needed to do - organize and simplify. The changes I made were small, and maybe even common sense, and obviously won't work for everyone (my kids are 2.5 and 9 months so our needs are different than with older kids), but they ultimately made a big difference for me. Now I set out the kids' clothes (and mine too), and get Essley's backpack and school supplies together, before I go to bed. We also clean up the house before bed so there isn't a bunch of clutter in the morning (and we sing a song from Essley's preschool called "Clean Up Pick Up" while we do so in order for it to feel fun and encourage her to pick up her toys without a fight). I bathe the kids at night, and I shower before bed too, rather than in the morning (although if we're being upfront here, showers with 2 kids under 3 aren't a regular thing regardless). I set my alarm on my phone for 10 minutes earlier than I think I need to get up and keep it out of arm's reach so I can't hit snooze. I also try (easier said than done, but the key word here is "try") to be up and ready myself before the babes wake up, so I can just focus solely on getting them prepared once they're awake. I have a nice organized chart on the fridge for Emmett's morning medications so I don't even have to think about them while I'm half asleep. We came up with a reward system that makes those morning potty training accidents increasingly less frequent. I figure out in advance what we're having for breakfast, and prep those breakfasts on the weekends for the coming week (cutting up fruit, measuring out oatmeal for overnight oats, etc.). In an effort to prevent tantrums when we're trying to get ready, we make games out of it ("lets see if we can get our shoes on before I'm done singing the ABCs!") so Essley has fun with it rather than feeling forced. And I set my coffee maker on a timer and when I'm running late, use Dixie To Go cups for my morning coffee, so I can enjoy it in all its delicious glory while I'm crushing my morning tasks, and take it with me when we're running out the door (usually with just minutes to spare).
As my regular readers know, I love my coffee and tea, so simplifying that part of my morning has been huge. It's actually been sort of empowering, because in a way, it signifies me doing something for myself while I'm mom-ing. (I might have just made that word up, but I'm sticking with it.) Having the coffee pot set to brew while we're getting dressed has been great because it saves time, and I don't have to think (which let's admit it, is kind of hard before you've had your morning beverage, right?). And discovering Dixie To Go has been helpful as well, because it eliminates the need for washing or cleanup. I can enjoy my coffee or tea and then put the cup in the recycling bin (or even better, reuse it, as I try to do with all disposable products, as a mini "trash can" for my car). With a leak-resistant lid and insulated layer, it also allows me to run out the door to get Essley to school and still have my coffee with me. Woot! That makes for one less thing to worry about in the morning, so I can instead focus on crushing the things that really matter - like laughing with my daughter while I (attempt to) do her hair for school, or taking a moment to give my son kisses before we head out for the day.
These tiny changes in my morning routine have brought pretty grand results, guys. Honestly, I feel like kind of a morning bad ass. Obviously the perfect morning doesn't exist, and there are still the typical petty morning struggles that may or may not result in tears (and I'm talking about grown up tears here, not necessarily tears of babes), but for the most part, I leave the house with a smile on my face the majority of the time. (Sometimes it's a smile over the comic reality of life as a mother, but it's a smile nonetheless.) And being able to accomplish the moments that mean the most with my kids while rushing around to start our day is the best part of it all.
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FILED UNDER: random thoughts/life