Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. I wrote a whole book about that! And yet weekday mornings remain one of my biggest time management challenges.
My challenge is different from many other people’s. While the day has a very good chance of starting early — I have instituted a rule of not getting my toddler out of her crib until 6 a.m. even if I lose the game of baby roulette and she wakes up a bit earlier — my kids and I aren’t racing to be anywhere. My oldest kid is in half-day kindergarten…in the afternoon. I work at home. So if I plan to start work at 8 or 9, I don’t need childcare coverage until 8 or 9.
In theory, this could be a great chunk of family time, or at least mommy time (I seem to be doing a lot of solo parenting during the week at the moment). But it’s been a struggle to use these 2-3 hours per day in ways that are enjoyable, and not just muddling through. We don’t need nearly that much time to eat breakfast — even elaborate breakfasts — and get dressed (not that I can shower with the kids underfoot). I don’t want to turn on the TV in the mornings since that’s my night time parenting strategy. It’s been too dark and cold and/or wet these past few months to be outside. So what else can we do?
One answer is that we can read. In the past few weeks, my toddler has started — just started — to tolerate sitting and listening to books. Or at least she’ll amuse herself to a degree while I read to her brothers. So the Tuesday morning book club (I start work at 9 on Tuesdays) meets around 7:45 a.m. We read chapters in chapter books, and picture books for the younger members. Pajamas are welcomed — even encouraged! If you wish to sit inside the basket we normally keep blankets in, that’s fine. Sometimes people need little hiding spots to listen to stories. You can sit on mommy’s lap, but if one of your other siblings wants to sit on mommy’s lap, too, you need to make room, or at least not pull his hair.
We can read for 30 minutes or more. I’m aiming for more — partly by keeping up my supply of children’s books. I am now planning in advance to always have some good, new ones ready. So if you get my newsletter, start looking for more children’s book reviews. Peter Pan has amazing prose. The Magic Tree House books are exciting, and you can pretty much get through one from 7:45-8:30 a.m.
The net result is that Tuesday mornings are a lot more pleasant than if we don’t plan to sit and read. How do you handle long mornings?
In other news: I’m working on a piece for a business publication on what families can learn from business (a la Bruce Feiler’s new book) and what business can learn from families. If you used a strategy you developed at home with your kids and spouse in your job — and are willing to let me use your name — I would love to hear from you. Managing conflict? Getting input from lots of people? Motivating an employee? Email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com.