"A comprehensive list of the things I did before 9am."

Ah, good morning. Sit down, drink your coffee. Breathe.

How’s your day been? Do you remember a time when all you had to do in the morning was get your sorry arse out of bed, into a shower, and onto the bus?

And then you had children.

Holly and her son, Billy.

And then you went back to work.

And now, 9 o’clock, when you sit down at your desk to start the working day, it suddenly feels like 3pm.

There’s nothing special about me, but as a working mum of two kids under five, here’s what I have already done today. And it’s 8.57:

– I tried to treat my preschooler like a snooze alarm. “Just two more minutes, it’s not 6am, yet.” As she pries my eyes open with her tiny-tiny fingers, and resorts to sitting on my head. The snooze-alarm trick never works. Got up.

– I dressed three different people. This sounds easy. But the only person who’s easy to dress in my house is me. My daughter will only wear tutus. My son turns against pants every single morning. And then he turns against T-shirts, and then, mere minutes before we leave the house, he turns against shoes.

Every one of these tiny battles takes willpower, physical strength and iron-clad determination – “You CANNOT go to day care without pants, Billy. You CANNOT.” Billy begs to differ.

– I dealt with three different people’s poo. Yes, one of those people was me, and interaction with faeces was minimal. But sorry, I still wiped three different arses this morning.

– I employed techniques of bribery and corruption. “If you don’t start brushing your teeth NOW, that Elsa doll is going in the bin. IN THE BIN.”

My daughter is wise to me – “I don’t believe you will EVEN do that,” she declares. And she’s right. Do you know what I went through to get that Elsa doll?

– I stripped a wee-soaked bed and did two loads of washing. Is it wrong to want my girl to stay in night pull-ups until she’s 12?

– I made three different breakfasts. One child likes “peanut toast”, one likes cereal. I like Vegemite. Moved on to lunchboxes. Bugger, no yoghurts. Improvised with tin peaches. Think, ‘they’ll never eat that’. Decide it is not my problem.

These are some of the worst moments before 9am. Every mother will know them. (Post continues after gallery.)


– I jumped in the shower while the kids ate, and then applied make-up while overseeing breakfast-eating, which devolved into toast-throwing, which devolved into mum-yelling and mascara in the eye.

– I try to scroll through news on my phone while calming escalating tensions over a viewing of Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom. “I don’t like it!” is the only full sentence my two-year-old knows, and the theme music to B&H is his cue to scream it. Every morning. 100 times. It’s his sister’s favourite show.

– I cleared up the breakfast debris, loaded the dishwasher, turned it on. Sent up a silent prayer of gratitude to the Dishwasher Gods for their innovation and foresight.

– I rebuilt a plastic dinosaur and retrieved an essential shoe – “I will only wear the greeeeeeeen ooooooones” – from a very far-flung corner of under-the-bed. Had to change.

– I got to the hair-straightener two minutes before my little boy grabbed at the burning hot tongs with his little hands. Winning! Playing  “crocodile” with it the hair iron is ill-advised when it’s been heating up for five minutes.

– I wrangled and wrestled two little people out of the house and hustled them along the short walk to the car, pausing to inspect and collect every single pine cone along the way.

– Managed to cross the road with two kiddie backpacks, my work bag, laptop bag and a two-year-old boy in my arms, and a four-year-old hand’s in mine.

– I dropped off in two different locations, 10 minutes from home and five minutes’ drive apart. Made small talk with two different sets of wondrous child-care professionals, who had already made small talk with 25 parents that day, but managed to look interested in “Matilda didn’t sleep so well, she might pass out on you at morning tea…” all the same.

– I enjoyed sloppy kisses and squeezy goodbye hugs with two different kids. Promises to return and pledges of love immediately cut short by appearance of another little girl in Elsa dress/ a Thomas the Tank Engine train table.

– I fell through the office doors with three minutes to spare before our morning meeting. Didn’t make it in time for the takeaway coffee, and it’s almost bringing me to tears. I tell myself “first-world problems, it’s just coffee”, then want to stab myself with pen.

If this list sounds self-pitying, then please accept my apologies. My life is full and fortunate. And busy. And governed by a loud, ticking clock.

But it’s all good. The day’s only just started. Really?

So, what did you do this morning?

Have you listened to “This Glorious Mess”, our parenting podcast? This one is all about Saturday morning sport. Yes, we shudder at the thought, too.

Come and Like Holly on Facebook. She needs some Friends who aren’t two-foot tall.

Did you find yourself nodding with everything in this post? Then, you might want to read…

Leigh Sales: “Juggling work and motherhood is exhausting.”

As your kids grow, motherhood is a continual process of letting go.

“Today, I stand with every woman who is honest about motherhood or mental illness”.3