To get 7 people moving in the morning can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task. Althought to be fair 1 of those people gets himself up and out of the house most days before the rest of us wake up. In the interest of full disclosure, it is very rare that Nick makes it out of the house without me at least being woken up for a minute or two. You see, for 11 and half years we have had babies or toddlers sleeping and my husband is a DEEP sleeper and any alarm that is going to wake him has to be LOUD. So after a few mornings of being jolted out of sleep by his alarm I started setting the alarm on my FitBit to vibrate in the morning to wake me…and then I wake him. If it is one of the weird times of year when he is getting up earlier than me, I fall back to sleep but he is awake on time and I don’t have heart palpitations for the first 15 minutes of the day.
I love mornings. Alone. I start the day with a workout and as few lights and sounds as possible. I enjoy my quiet house and try to give the kids every possible sleeping minute they can get. But eventually I have to start waking them up. Usually the youngest is up first and often wants to help me wake up the others. Sometimes that goes well, and he’s sweet and his siblings are happy to see him. Other times he goes in loud and kids wake up screaming.
Each kid has their own morning personality. The oldest wakes up happy and loving and scoops up the first book in her path to start reading. Our oldest son has given strict instruction that he likes to be woken up with the lights off and then left to get himself up and down to breakfast. He often comes to the table with a blanket over his head. Our third child makes more sense to me…her morning personality, like her personality the rest of the day, reminds me the most of myself. I often say that our little Lily-Goat is who I would be if I didn’t have to worry about how the world would respond. You have to be careful waking her up. No light, very little sound, no direct eye contact…most mornings I just want to lay down in her bed and sleep a little longer, too. I think it’s because she was really the only baby who slept in our bed when she was tiny…she’s a champion sleeper…but not exactly a morning person.
Number 4 is really the Russian Roulette of wake ups. She is strong in all ways, personality, lung power, leg strength…not a girl you want to cross. She’s my little kindergarten future MMA fighter. She’s also sweet and silly and a champion hugger. I’d say it’s about 50/50 which one I wake up each day.
I am a big believer in breakfast. It’s one of those things I’m willing to put in extra work to accomplish. We have bacon or sausage and eggs available every morning. I grew up in the 80s…a time of carbs and convenience. I started my days with bagels and cereal. (And I turned out just fine.) But I am a protein believer. My kids have no idea how good they have it. I think their favorite part of family hotel stays is a continental breakfast with cold cereal. At home I try to feed them something that is substantial enough to power them until lunch. We eat breakfast together, the 5 kiddos and me, and I try to let them wake up peacefully and at their own pace.
And then panic sets in. I am a chronically early person. I grew up on coach’s kid time. Always be 15 minutes early. And so when the bus is 30 minutes away the “HURRY!” warnings begin. I send the kids up to get dressed and brush teeth. For the next 20 minutes I give time warnings…but I am incapable of accurately represeting time so I’m usually dramatically exaggerating how soon the bus will arrive. There are usually a few wardrobe malfunctions (shorts when it’s freezing outside, strangely mismatched outfits, missing shoes.) But with very few exceptions my kiddos have at least 15 minutes to hang out before the bus arrives. When the weather is bad they sit by the door and look at books and let their heart rates drop from the flurry of activity. When it’s nice out they head out to the driveway for a few rounds of Red Light, Green Light or Mother, May I.
When the bus finally does arrive I get to witness my favorite moment of the day. The kids line up to get on the bus, at some point someone must have told them to line up by age, so they do. And then Lucas steps to the back of the line to let the girls get on the bus first. That sweet moment of chivalry is especially lovely because Lucas is such a rule follower that I know how hard it must have been for him to decide that “Ladies First” could win out over “line up by age”. I have taken many pictures of the kids lined up to get on the bus so I can remember that sweet moment that starts their day. That way when they come running off the bus and shouting at each other I can think back on that moment when my ducks were all in a row. And for a moment, it’s a victory.