How NOT to start your day… and other tips from an imperfect mum

A minion from Despicable Me close-up

Me in the mornings – how you don’t want to be

I am walking hand-in-hand with an unidentified handsome male on a deserted beach. I can taste the salty breeze, my companion – he has the same profile as George Clooney – turns to look at me…

The alarm on my mobile phone rudely interrupts my dream. I try to block out the sound, but the beach and the mystery man have gone and then I remember: It is 5.45am. This is MY hour, my window of opportunity in the next 24 hours to do something Just for Me before my day is swamped by other people’s demands and desires.

So, I get up quietly, slip on my airline socks and my husband’s fleece and sneak downstairs with my laptop to write on my novel or what I hope will one day become my novel. This is pure bliss, escaping into a different world of interesting characters created and controlled only by me.

A scene from a badly scripted sitcom

Like Cinderella dreading the moment when her carriage will turn back into a pumpkin, I watch the hands of the clock creeping closer to 6.45am, which will signal the end to my solitude, my calm and inner peace.

From the moment I wake up my daughter at 6.45am our house is transformed into a maddening, hysterical scene from a badly scripted sitcom.

My husband has woken up by now, grumbling about sitting in the traffic again while scavenging through his wardrobe for an ironed shirt. (He does his own ironing of course)  Any minute now the daily hunt for his company access card will kick off. He will be crawling around under the sofa, rustling through the washing basket and the boys’ toy box – cursing under his breath and accusing every woman and her dog of stealing or hiding his yellowing mug shot resembling someone on Prime Suspect.

Mutiny over breakfast

Poster of white text on red stating keep Calm and Carry On

More calmness needed in the morning

From downstairs my daughter starts her daily rant about the lack of choice on the breakfast menu, having dismissed 15 types of cereal and a selection of fresh fruit. Wait till she has a family and see if she’s still so keen on rustling up eggy toast or Nigella’s pancakes on a weekday morning.

The next one to surface is Max, 4, who solemnly announces that he’s not going to school today because his best friend stinks. This, rather than being a reflection of his best friend’s poor hygiene, is his latest ploy to try and stay at home because the novelty of school has worn off after just two weeks.

“I hate phonics. All we do is phonics. It is rubbish,” he moans through his Cheerios.

My husband, thankfully, has now left the house – minus his access card and dragging the overflowing bin behind him as he forgot to put it out the night before.

Child cruelty

The last one to rise is my 9-year-old son, Lukas, who tries to stay in bed as long as he can to resist my attempts at forcing him to do his 11-plus homework.

(If this sounds cruel – it’s not. We’re talking 10 minutes of maths or learning vocab instead of playing Fifa14 on the I-pad.)

Things start accelerating from about this moment. I realise there’s only an hour left before everyone has to be ready and out the door, including me.

My daughter is walking up the hill to the bus stop, the four-year-old is lying on the floor in front of my bathroom naked, refusing to move and Lukas is trying to see if he can take 30 minutes to put on one sock, one eye on the clock.

A race against time 

Max is refusing to get dress. I scream, cry, plead… in the end I challenge him to a dressing contest. I am halfway into my bra and knickers when the doorbell rings. My daughter has forgotten her bus pass and will now be late unless I drive her up the hill to the bus stop.

Lukas, seizing the opportunity, claims he absolutely can’t work out how many halves there are in three and a half without my help and downs his pen. Max, meanwhile, starts wailing because I’ve won the dressing contest unfairly as I had to quickly pull on my jogging bottoms and T-shirt to drive my daughter up the hill.

By the time I’ve deposited Lukas at the middle school 10 minutes late, having returned home once to fetch his forgotten football kit and dragging Max into the infant school, kicking and screaming, I’m very low on humour and badly in need of a strong coffee.

I return to my home office, climbing over discarded shoes and dirty washing, ignoring the mountain of breakfast dishes in the sink, ready to start my working day.

Does this sound familiar? What are your strategies for making the mornings easier?

If your mornings are more successful, please send me some tips and I’ll do a follow-up post with tips for other badly organised mums like me.

Scrabble letters spelling 'bad mum' words

Bad mums round-up on Britmums

And by the way, I am the editor of a monthly bad mums round-up for Britmums.  If you identify with my struggles and imperfections, drop me an email or tweet me @CheneKoscielny your imperfect, humiliating, bad mummy posts and I’ll include them in the October round-up to make other mums feel a bit better about ourselves.

14 thoughts on “How NOT to start your day… and other tips from an imperfect mum

  1. Great post, I don’t know how you had time to write it! I personally believe that before 7am, minutes are actually only thirty seconds long. They have to be, as this is the only reason I can explain why an hour of ‘me time’ goes so quickly and amounts to me doing very little.

    • It’s funny how many mums do try to squeeze the most out of this hour isn’t it – that and the occasional hot yoga class keeps me sane. Though in my yoga class, the time goes very slowly – as I’m in pain most of the time!

  2. Well, I completely empathise with this BUT recently – thanks to Grace’s Family Support Advisor – Grace has a chart of things she needs to do in the morning to get ready for school so that, as long as she has done all these things, she can play! It seems to be working so far! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo and congrats on your new editorial status 🙂 x

    • I have beent thinking about some sort of reward chart, might just give that a go and see if it calms things down a bit. Thanks for congrats – I was more than qualified to edit a bad mums round-up! Have missed out a few PoCoLos – great to be back!

  3. Ha ha I love the fact that you put ‘stress-free mornings’ as one of the tags! Yours sound more complicated than our mornings (I only have two kids to marshal out the door), but I still always seem to be late….ah well. It’ll all be over in 18 years or thereabouts….

  4. I used to have this problem until recently, when I hit on the perfect solution. I booked my son into classes which start before my daughter is out of bed in the morning, at a school which lies between my house and my husband’s work. Then I started sleeping in until half the house had left for the day. Try it! (It might cut into your novel time, that’s the only downside… although if you can barricade yourself somewhere effectively, it might still work.)

    Other than that, no tips, but I’ll stay tuned in case anyone else has any (for those mornings the boy does not go to class early).

  5. Not having to be somewhere at 9 a.m. is possibly the biggest benefit of home educating! And being a single parent helps: on my work days, child goes to her dad’s (he’s retired). No homework, gym kit, lunches to remember, and no resistance to going.

    But before home educating, I set the alarm for 2.5 hours before she had to be at school (a 7-minute drive from home). I resented how long it took to get us both out the door (only two of us, too), but a little resentment was better than a lot of panic and lost tempers. I am still astounded that it can take one 9-year-old 15 minutes to wave a toothbrush in the direction of her teeth for 2 minutes. But it does. It is a law of nature and I am humbled before the power of nature.

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