My morning routine (toddler version)

IMG_0686Mornings are a great time for getting things done. However, if you’ve got little ones around, especially those who wake unpredictably, mornings are going to look a little different than they will in different phases of life. I know that my mornings (and weekends!) will have an entirely different vibe in 18 months when the little dude is coming up on 3 years. I also know that I travel enough (and have my husband around a reasonable enough number of days) that I can do other things with my mornings sometimes. One sort of day is not necessarily more emblematic of life than other days. All must be taken in context.

That said, here is what these summer-ish mornings are looking like now. The light comes early — long before 6:00 A.M. The baby has been waking somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30. That is quite a range. I just bought some black-out shades to see if they help push it toward the latter, especially since there is a new wrinkle in all this. In weeks past, I could let him gurgle and play for a bit in the crib (his big brother roommate does not  seem to notice). Then a few days ago he discovered a new trick: launching himself out of the crib. So several recent mornings have started with a sudden howl as he landed on the floor, and then started whining for his “na na” (pacifier). I am still trying to figure out what to do about this. He seems quite little to not be in a crib. I might take off the foot-side rail of the crib so he can climb in and out that way, and then prevail upon the 6-year-old to please please not bring marbles or Legos or other such things into the room.

I usually get up with the baby. I tend to hear him first, and my husband is conked out from doing an epic split shift (working from 10:30 P.M. to 12:30 or 1 A.M. if he is home in order to not work from 6:30-9:00 P.M.). I have given myself a bedtime of 10:30 P.M. in order to be able to handle 5:30 A.M. wake-ups. I don’t always make it — sometimes my husband and I like to hang out together from 10-11 P.M. or so — but in this universe he gets 6-6.5 hours of sleep and I get 6.5-7.5 depending on how the night goes. I do more baby-coverage during the week, but then I have more weekend events that require him to cover.

In any case, I get up with the baby. We go downstairs and I make coffee — a nice Starbucks dark roast. I see if he wants to eat IMG_0803anything: yogurt, a waffle, raisins, etc. When my coffee is done I put in some real cream and sit there in my chair in the living room and watch him play. I look at the increasingly green, full trees out the large window. I try to absorb the little guy’s sheer cuteness. He has these pudgy little hands and big brown eyes. He does not play with anything for long, but he will often stop, come over and climb on my lap for a snuggle before getting down to go play again. It is not exactly meditation or yoga or journaling, but it is fairly chill all the same.

We do this until 7:00 when I go wake up my husband. He takes the baby while I go shower. When I come back down, they are often having breakfast together (breakfast #2 for the baby). Often one of the other kids is up by then eating too. Sometimes they have convinced my husband to make waffles or pancakes. I make my soft-scrambled eggs, and then go find any remaining children who are not awake yet. Everyone has generally eaten by 8:00 A.M. when our nanny shows up. We discuss any plans for the day, and then I retreat to my office, where I check email, blog comments, and my schedule, and make any logistical adjustments necessary.

At 8:32 I find my oldest two kids and they get shoes, bags, and jackets if necessary. By 8:36 we should be walking out to the driveway. We talk about our days for a few minutes until the bus comes, usually around 8:40. Then it is back inside for more focused writing, something I generally attempt to do until noon.

What are mornings looking like for you these days?

16 thoughts on “My morning routine (toddler version)

  1. I am a regular reader (and fan of your books) but I’ve never commented before. I find that so much of what you write speaks to me and the stage of life I am in (two kids under two, working as a lawyer, a husband who works out of town) and love your positive perspective on having both a full family life and fulfilling career.

    With that said, I am finally commenting because I am dreading the day my toddler figures out how to get out of his crib. In discussing the issue with a friend, she told me she removes the bottom of the crib and puts the mattress right on the ground when this becomes an issue. It won’t work with every crib/mattress depending on height and mattress thickness but it may be worth a shot if you do want to still keep him contained at night. 🙂

    1. @Jo – thanks for your first comment! And this is a fascinating idea — I guess the concept is that if the mattress is right on the floor, the walls are higher up and so he/she can’t get out? But they also can’t squeeze out the bottom?

      I haven’t decided what to do yet. We put black out shades on the window, and I feel that buys me a few more minutes in the morning. So the last 2 mornings I’ve woken up before him and heard him right away — so I can get there before he gets bored and wants to launch himself out of the crib. He’s a little Houdini and quite a climber too so I’m not sure anything will truly contain him…

      1. My first baby is 3 months and not even out of the bassinet yet, but I have read a variation of the crib trick which involves dropping the mattress to the floor and placing a second crib mattress smack on top of it.

        I have a fantasy version of events where we beat the 4-month sleep regression, she sleeps happily in the pack and play for a year, and then transitions seamlessly to a toddler bed. No really, stop laughing 🙂

        1. @Pamela – maybe she’ll just put herself to bed. She’ll walk into her room, gesture to be put in the crib, and then fall immediately asleep for 12 hours straight. I mean, while we’re dreaming, why not?? 🙂

  2. My first started jumping out of his crib at about the same age. We ended up putting him in a bed. It definitely has its own disadvantages but it was better than the crib jumping.

    I actually love the earlier sun of summer. It makes it so much easier for me to wake up early. I get up 5AM and go for a 2 mile walk. Come home, get myself ready for the day and get my kids (6 and 4) from their bedrooms at 6:00AM. 6-6:45 is breakfast with the kids, making sure they get dressed and ready for the bus. I leave for work at 6:45 and my husband waits for the elementary bus (which comes at 7:10) and drops the younger one at daycare. I am at work around 7:15.

  3. My daughter climbed like a monkey even before she could walk well. We did put the mattress on the floor, which made higher walls. This helped for a while, until she figured that one out. She also climbed bookcases – yikes! – and any other vertical surface she could find. (Surprisingly, she is not a gymnast.)

    We put her in a twin bed before she was two. She often came to bed with us in the early morning, but I ended up getting more sleep.

  4. I have never commented here before, but I too am newly the mother of 4 with the youngest being just 4 months old. The idea of the ever changing schedule with infants and very young children is so very immediate to us right now. I am a physician and twice a week I begin seeing patients in the office at 7. I actually love these days because it cuts my commute in half both ways (I finish by 2 on these days) and am home to spend the after school hours with my kids. It does mean that I am up and in the shower at 5 and out the door by 5:50. I am also at my desk before 6:30 and work to make the most of that half an hour before the patients begin rolling in, checking email, reviewing labs and closing up charts from the previous day. This only works because my husband takes the morning shift with kids until the nanny arrives at 8. Today he was up at 5:30 feeding the baby (more typically the baby sleeps until 6-7). A house with 4 young kids really must be a team effort it both parents are going to have successful careers.

    1. @Gillian- welcome! Thanks for commenting. A couple of smart things in here — shifting the time of the commute is brilliant in terms of saving time. A drive that can take 45 minutes at 8:30 can take 20 at 6:30 — certainly around here that’s the case. I agree that it has to be a team effort, but when it is, mornings can be pretty good.

    2. Gillian, I was just thinking about trying to swing the same thing (7-2:30, 2 days a week). I’m doing 7-1:30 today (plus an hour or so of working from home) because I have to take my son to a therapy session every other wednesday, and I like being here before anyone else, and being done with my day)

      1. @Ana – yep, if you’re done with your day at 2:30, there is still a lot of day left! That’s particularly cool in summer when those hours are great for being out.

        1. This idea is really interesting, My children are 12 and 14 now, and my biggest problem is keeping half an eye on what they are doing after school! They are pretty good about homework etc. but it would get done so much quicker if I was around the house between 4 and 6. I’m going to see if I can shift my day earlier at least once this week…

  5. In the months since I finished reading “I Know How She Does It,” I feel like I have a new, much healthier perspective on my mornings! Routine is the same, but I am actually noticing and enjoying the fact that it’s actually good quality time with my kids (not just items on a to-do list to frazzle my way through before getting to the office). Husband and I take turns getting up around 7/7:15 and taking a shower while the other parent wakes kids (2 and 5) and gets them dressed for school and daycare. Then the showered/dressed parent takes the kids downstairs and gets them breakfast while the other parent gets showered and dressed. Kids are old enough now that they play together or independently in one of their rooms while waiting to go downstairs. Usually aim to be feeding kids no later than 8. On days when I’m on breakfast duty, I try to sit down and eat with them for 5-10 minutes and talk about what’s happening that day. Sometimes we color or play with toys for a bit after we eat. At 8:15 I load the kids into my bike trailer and ride to 5yo’s school, drop her off and get back on the bike to ride to my office (where 2yo’s daycare is also located). Deposit 2yo at daycare and then arrive at my desk by 9.

    1. @Becca – Thanks for your comment – I’m so glad that IKHSDI helped with your perspective on mornings. It really can be a fun time for a family to be together and enjoy each others’ company. I think we’re often so obsessed with getting out the door that we don’t stop to notice the time that is passing — or the sheer cuteness of some moments! All four of my kids were playing in this little tent together this morning. There is much fighting, of course, but life is also a constant playdate.

  6. I find the variable wake up time is one of the trickiest parts of getting a morning routine going, especially because mine goes so much better if I can be dressed and mostly ready for the day before the kids are up. My 20 month old still wakes any time between 5:30 and 7:30, but if it’s on the early side of that he’s usually appeased by a bottle and will go back to sleep for another hour or so.
    My workdays have variable starts (any time between 6:15 and 10, depending on the week)… my best mornings are when I start late, because I get the morning with the kids without the pressure of getting myself out the door on time — once they’re dressed, fed, and cartooned (if time allows) they’re out the door with Dad, and I get an hour or so to get myself ready for the day. The very early shifts are next best because I am (hopefully) out the door before anyone else is awake – low stress! Anything in between is a bit harder, with two adults getting ready, true rush hour traffic to consider, and often having to pry my 4 year old out of bed as if he were a teenager.
    Oddly, My husband has been away for work and I’ve been doing an 8-4 work day with fairly easy mornings, likely because I’m not annoyed that he’s not up, trying to negotiate who’s dropping off, etc. Much less chaotic, and I’m thinking that defining each parents roles when I’m working that shift with him home might ease some of the stress on those weeks. But I’m still teasing him that it’s just a well oiled machine when he’s away and the house runs my way, haha.

    1. @Christine – there is something to be said for being firmly, unambiguously in charge. Things happen when you want them to happen, and while it is annoying not to have help, having a person who could be helpful there but not being helpful is probably worse!

  7. Hi Laura
    I find your writing inspiring. I was hoping you could help me out with some advice.

    What do you do if you don’t have a nanny, have housechores to do and two kids under two constantly at your heels? Surely there is no time then?

    They sleep at different times, you’re awake all night.. etc.

    I don’t mean to be self defeating but it’s not so easy when you don’t have the support system and staff right? What do you suggest then?

    Thanks and really hoping you can help me out on this one!

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