How Do You Start Your Day?

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So we’ve made it through an amazing month of holidays, and it’s time to get back to a normal life schedule. People have asked me how I manage a career, family, cookbooks, and all, so I’ll share my regular daily routine with you. You may take notes, if you wish:

I make it a point to wake up early, exercise, and daven (pray) before the kids get up, so I won’t be distracted. While sipping a latte, I cook them a hot, healthy breakfast and include myself in this terrific-way-to-start-your-day meal. I feel it’s important to be dressed in a nice, well coordinated outfit – just casual enough to be comfortable and just chic enough that I could go to a meeting on the spur of the moment, should the need arise. I dress the children, brush their hair while humming our special Good Morning song, and trot them out to the school bus. Then it’s on to my productive workday, bolstering a career too glamorous for words.

Oh don’t I wish.

Okay – I have to confess that this never really happens. It’s my fantasy morning. In reality, my eyes wrench open to the cries of a baby or the shuffling of toddler feet in the bathroom somewhere in the 5 o’clock (as in am) hour. I pull a pillow over my head and wait, praying they will all go back to sleep.

They never do. After diaper changes, I supervise the older kids’ dressing. (I learned a long time ago that you don’t leave picking out clothes for the morning. It’s gotta be done the night before unless you want the school bus to come and go while they’re all still in their pajamas.) Eventually, they learn to dress themselves, though never soon enough for me. It’s amazing how one of my lovely girls always used to wind up with backward shirts, and shoes on the wrong feet -- so consistently that she defied the laws of probability. We made a joke of turning the shirts around and switching the shoes every day.

By the time they’re all dressed, the baby is in major need of a costume change. We’re not just talking a diaper here, people, we are talking the entire outfit.

Next, I play hairdresser: with 4- and 5-year-old girls, that means ponytails and braids and bows and headbands, and it’s a daily struggle to explain why they can’t wear them all at the same time. My almost 3-year-old son still has long hair. It’s a countdown to his upshern (his first, traditional haircut). Lately, Hubby and I have entered into long philosophical discussions as to whether we go with a clip (a black “boyish” one of course) or a pony (also in neutral boyish colors), while our son just wants the pink sparkly headband like his sisters.

After fighting over which breakfast barstool they sit on, which color plastic cereal bowl they get, and who should be served first my kiddies down their breakfast of yogurt, fruit, cereal, OJ, chocolate milk, or some combination thereof, not without spilling some of it on themselves, their neighbor or the floor first. And the baby actually gets some of it in his mouth. They get a treat if they went to bed nicely the night before, or behaved really well that morning: I am not above bribery. Grabbing each school bag, I add snacks to lunches, “mitzvah notes” extolling each child’s good deeds to their teachers, and pennies for the class tzedakah (charity) box.

I tell them to brush their teeth, help them brush their teeth, or supervise them brushing their teeth -- all of which takes inordinately long, considering the number of teeth in their tiny mouths.
My oldest is 5, and we do her one page of homework in the morning. I found that when she gets home from school, wired from her long day, is not the time to make her sit down and concentrate. We tried that and it was painful for both of us. So we do it in the morning, when she’s sharp-minded and excited.

By now, the baby is fussing on the floor, and I put on music to drown out his wails while I steer each child to the bathroom before the carpool or the bus shows up. I run to my closet and choose whatever can be put on in the least amount of time: buttons trump hooks and snaps; zippers trump buttons.

Hubby comes home from Shacharis (morning prayers) and can’t begin to fathom what we’ve all been doing for the last 2 hours – and why there is so much left to do in the next 20 minutes before rushing out for the bus.

It’s almost 9:00 am and I realize I’ve had nothing to eat or drink, (there is no latte in my near future) my nerves are frazzled… and it’s time for work!
Just because I have a dream of the perfect morning, a dream which differs so greatly from my reality doesn’t mean I am not committed to taking steps, ok baby steps to get there. My new motto, smile more at my kids at the break of dawn and remember, come 9am this too shall pass so let’s be in it to win it and enjoy the time together.


And just to leave you all with a quick tip for alleviating breakfast boredom. Make extra fresh pancakes or French toast on a Sunday morning, store leftovers in a Tupperware and nuke quickly for a warm weekday morning breakfast treat. (Use this is for when the kids are especially well behaved or when you are especially well behaved given the strenuous circumstances).

I’d love to know how you start your day or how you’d like to start your day. Leave a comment and share your morning secrets to success with me. In the chance your morning is similar to mine, I want to know too (it’s nice to know you’re not alone in this world).