It’s about 9:20 a.m. on the east coast, and I’ve been up since 5:20. Not on purpose. While I love summer, the early rising sun means early rising kids, and my 8-month-old has been greeting the dawn on a regular basis lately. On Thursday mornings, the older two need to be at pre-school by 9 a.m., which means we need to be in the car at 8:45/8:50. So that’s a 3.5 hour block of time between wake-up and departure.
I’d like to use these hours in a way that’s enjoyable for me and my children. After all, 3.5 hours is quite a bit of time! But there are various challenges that I’m trying to work around. I’m often a single parent during the week. The kids get up at varying times, meaning I can’t just load them in the car at 6:30 to go to a playground. The baby tends to get up first, followed by the 5-year-old, then the 2-year-old. They all need to eat and get dressed, but the trouble of having a deadline for getting in the car is that the mind tends to fixate on that. Since there’s a goal (get out the door on time) it’s challenging to create another goal (relaxing and enjoying the time — or doing some activity).
I’ve been trying a few things. Yesterday we had a breakfast picnic — eating our bagels outside and playing in the not-quite-hot early morning air. Other mornings, I try to make breakfast more of a production: making pancakes or something mildly more elaborate than cereal. If my husband is around, I’ve loaded some combo of the children into the jog stroller (with the sleeping ones left at home). This morning we played spaceship with a big cardboard box in the basement for quite a while, making it all the way to Jupiter. 3.5 hours turns out to be enough time to get there!
And some mornings I’m too tired and I put on Go, Diego, Go while I answer emails or read the newspaper.
Some mornings I do some combination of all of this. I think outdoor time will figure more prominently as summer goes on and the yard becomes less muddy (ah, spring showers). What do you do when you have long mornings?
Photo courtesy flickr user rolfekolbe