Musings
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What Is the Hardest Part of Your Day?

By: Jen Shoop

*Image via.

I was just thinking last week how much easier mornings have become for us as a family. My children still wake early-ish and now openly defy their Mellas (our OK-to-wake clocks, which proficiently kept our children in their rooms, if not in their beds, until 6:50 each morning, up until a few months ago), but they will play with one another without bothering us until we emerge from our bedroom each morning. We no longer have bottles to fill or diapers to change, and I no longer need to urgently prompt my son to use the toilet first thing, either, as he will use the toilet when he wakes on his own. The hour between wake-up and out-the-door-for-school runs like clockwork. I have my “hooks” in place — if I’m not feeding the children by 7, we need to expedite; if I’m not clearing bowls and beginning the getting-dressed-and-brushed phase by 7:25, we have to move things along; etc. Everything is done in its order, and the children expect the regiment: first breakfast, then uniforms/clothes, then hair, then teeth, then shoes, then coats, then out the door. Curiously, too, neither child complains about going to school at the moment, and so the prolonged negotiations and standoffs of yesterday have faded comfortably out of the picture. (Right now — I’m sure I’ve jinxed it.) We are in a good groove? (She writes hopefully?) I must say this out loud, or on paper, because these small victories are worth trumpeting. I remember well the days when mornings felt impossible. I am thinking narrowly of a string of months with a newborn needing to be fed and swaddled and rocked to sleep while a rambunctious two year old was being forced against her will out the door for her Twos Program. And so I will celebrate this modest milestone.

But, truth be told, mornings — even in the newborn days — have always been the easier part of the day anyhow. I think most parents will agree that the stretch of time between dinner and bed can loom monstrous, and that’s principally because everyone — parents included — is tired. I’ve usually hit my limit on stimulation of all kinds, and just want to be quietly nursing a glass of red wine on the couch, and yet this is the time of day in which parents must dig deepest, must inflate themselves to super-parent status with the stamina of a Marvel hero and the patience of a saint in order to grind through the whining and flailing of young children in desperate need of shuteye. Oh, the agonies and injustices and outrages of bedtime! This toothbrush, that toothbrush, she-got-more-toothpaste-than-I-did, he-turned-on-the-light-last-night-and-it-was-my-turn, I-don’t-like-those-pajamas! The doors slamming, the repeat depositing of a small girl into her bedrooms the “I don’t want to see you out of your room again until the morning, unless it’s an emergency” muddled with half-fatigued explanations along the lines of: “We do this because your body needs rest!”

And yet we always make it through, and — my husband pointed this out to me — the moment that my son’s door closes (meaning he has washed his face and brushed his teeth and used the toilet and dressed himself for bed), he transforms into a docile little lamb who trots over into my lap for storytime and then promptly collapses into his bed, and stays there, usually for the entirety of the night. He will chirp only once after I’ve readied to leave his room, asking for me to rub his back. For some reason, we go through this exact exchange nightly; I suppose I could abridge it in some way, but it’s sweet in its own call-and-response. I’ll turn out the lights, sing him his lullaby, and then rise to leave, at which point, he will inevitably say: “Mama, will you rub my back?” I’ll perch on the edge of his bed, rub his back for a scant thirty seconds, and then leave, and he will always say, as I prepare to close his door: “I love you and I love you and God bless you and good night.” Two I love yous, sometimes three, and that avuncular “God bless you” that absolutely kills me every 24 hours.

I guess what I’m saying is that bedtime has also gotten easier.

And I guess what that means is — and I write this to extend you hope if you are in the narrow straits of raising small children — that the mechanics of mornings and evenings do simplify as your children get older, and the bits that used to feel impossible, taxing, draining, can ease up.

A smooth passage, for the moment, with quiet waters worth praising.

I’m curious, though: what is the most challenging part of your day, parent or not? Has this changed over time? Have you always found mornings difficult, for example? Do you dread nights? Dish!

Post-Scripts.

+The first job each morning.

+Every morning, a million miracles are born.

+When was the last time you felt truly happy?

Shopping Break.

+40% off sitewide at Madewell. Don’t miss these ribbed turtlenecks, this pretty fall floral (can be worn with tissue turtleneck beneath for a Wiggy Kit-inspired look for less), and a pair of trendy statement lug sole loafers.

+MinnowSwim is offering 20% off site wide — a great time to stock up on the cutest suits for next season. I especially love their rash guards for girls. I find this brand runs TTs in swimsuits.

+I bought this under-$100 velvet mini and it’s even better IRL. The cuffs are very Horror Vacui / Vampire’s Wife, and the fit is excellent. If you like the vibe but avoid minis, check out this style!

+This reversible quilted coat is on sale for only $133 (originally $336). So adorable! Also love this longer reversible style from the same brand, on sale for 50% off!

+This sherpa vest reminds me of the Toteme jacket we all obsessed over earlier this season.

+Can’t get over these chic heels — under $160 and so fab. They remind me of Malone Souliers!

+Every time I re-order this shampoo, I remind myself to tell you about it. It smells like heaven and is ultra-gentle. My son has very sensitive skin and this is great for him.

+These turtlenecks are under $10/pop and great for everyday uniform wear for littles. They have a nice thickness to them — very soft, too.

+These adorable La Double J pouches/clutches are on sale for 50% off.

+This hot pink opera coat is $200, and this hot pink wool cape is also discounted heavily!

+To my baking Magpies: you know about Fat Daddio cake pans, right? The best! They cook so evenly. Do not use glass to bake in — ever. Use these — lots of shapes/sizes available. A set would be a great gift for a baking enthusiast!

+This dress turned my head. You could wear with black suede heels to winterize it.

+Patterned turtlenecks are my toxic trait at the moment.

+Attractive fridge magnets for kids.

+This backpack would be a good unisex option for a diaper bag for both parents! Chic in the black and camel in particular.

+A simple velvet clutch for Christmas — wear without the strap and pair with something plaid/tartan!

+Les Gamins’ last re-stock of the year just launched! They have some really cute waffle sets that would be good under snow gear.

+This dress is guaranteed to turn heads.

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8 thoughts on “What Is the Hardest Part of Your Day?

  1. I have a three year old and three month old and bedtime is JUST getting easier. Now, wrangling my son into his preschool uniform each morning while my infant starts to break down as his first nap looms – that is harder at the moment. The morning feels harder now but, there is coffee!

    1. It’s so interesting, how this is a moving target with young children. I also used to dread mornings because my daughter would randomly decide she was not in the mood for school and we’d go through this elaborate how-do-we-get-her-out-the-door process. Ahh! Hang in there. Everything is hazy and challenging with a newborn!!

      xx

  2. I’m not a parent or caretaker in any way, but the hardest part of my day is always 3-5 p.m. I get so tired in the afternoons, especially now, when the sunset is basically starting at what feels like 3:30, and I try to limit caffeine intake so I’m always debating a mid-afternoon cup of coffee or other treat. It usually fades by about 5:30, once I can start to think about or even prep dinner, but those two to three hours beforehand are always such a drag! Any tips on getting through this?

    1. I so relate to this — that was my least favorite part of the day in an office setting. I dreaded it! Post-lunch, pre-wrap-up slump. I wonder if you can do something that makes you look forward to / celebrate that time of day, like going for a quick walk to stretch your legs, or taking a break to read a blog you love (ahem ahem 🙂 ), or making a cup of tea, or putting on Christmas music (?), or lighting a candle (if permitted)? Something that makes you look forward to that time of day.

      xx

  3. For me, it’s the evening commute! I don’t love driving, I’m tired, I’ve usually fled the office in total annoyance. It’s a delight to reunite with my daughter, but then you never know how the drive will go with a toddler — demanding a song that you can’t identify, dropping something that you can’t reach/fetch, complaining that the carseat straps are too tight. I remember a stretch where I held her hand from the front seat during every commute for weeks. (Quite a yoga pose on my part.) Once we’re home, there’s still a mutual exhaustion that can make the 90 min stretch to bedtime a challenge, but at least we’re HOME!

    1. Oh my gosh – the image of you holding your daughter’s hand from the front seat is too precious. I know that required saintly patience and physical contortion on your end, but how adorable?

      I hear you — traveling in a car with a little one by yourself can be tricky! Hope it’s not too long of a commute…

      xx

  4. Morning routines are so unique and fascinating. I know when we were visiting my boyfriend’s family this spring it was really fun to read to his neices before bed the nights we stayed with one of his brothers. Bedtime routines too are so unique. Each household does it slightly differently and it it’s quite unique staying with people with kids and seeing how each family operates. For parents the book, go the f* to sleep is hilarious by Adam Mansbach. And check out the audio version read aloud by Samuel L. Jackson. The others of his on food and the 2020 audio
    version of stay the f* at home are hilarious.

    I need to improve my own routine and get back into the habit of lunch-making the night prior and leaving out my clothes for morning. The habits I have lost/stopped since March 2020 now that I’m back in-person. Could use help in forming my own uniform of sorts on what to wear each day and eat each day since those 2 choices could be the same everyday to free up room in brain when I’m exhausted.

    1. Smart — I’ve gotten into that habit with the children, too: all snacks, water bottles, lunches MUST be packed the night before because the morning is just too busy! It’s a nice ritual, too, the feeling of greeting/preparing the next day.

      xx

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