parent opinion

"I had to laugh, otherwise I would cry." The chaos of mornings when you're a parent.

Mornings with kids are always chaotic, but last week I had one of 'those mornings' that almost sent me straight back to bed.

Nothing life-changing occurred, and my two boys are beautiful humans I love and adore, but this morning a couple of extra tasks tipped us all over the edge and it felt comically bad. 

It all started well at 6.30am when I got up to make myself a cup of tea in peace. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher before sending some personal emails and messaging my family in the UK. 

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When the kids got up at 7am, we had a cuddle back in my bed, a daily ritual I enjoy before the day officially begins. 

I cherish those sweet and cosy snuggles, as they only last mere seconds before one child kicks the other, and we have to get up before the fight goes nuclear.

While one child was in the shower and the other munching on cereal, I assembled some basic lunchboxes, made the bed, fed the cat, had a shower, half put away some clean washing and downed a giant coffee. Then I had to take an important phone call from our travel insurance operator.

As I stood shivering in my undies on the phone, while also trying to make myself semi-presentable, my youngest son flew into the bedroom crying because the cat licked his toast. My eldest son also inexplicably chose this moment to demand a new toothbrush because his one was 'disgusting'. He also helpfully pointed out that the bathroom towels were damp and gross and needed a wash. 

Every parent knows this daily morning chaos - we feel like we do a million tasks while simultaneously compiling a list of all the things we still have to do before starting work or just leaving the house.

My kids are old enough to be left alone for a few minutes while I have a shower - even if they do stand outside the door, but I remember a time when this was not the case. 

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My thoughts and prayers are with the parents of babies and toddlers up at 5am to watch too many episodes of Cocomelon, while dealing with nappies and bottle feeds before getting out the door. I remember those days and they are tough.

My mornings now are less intense in the way I am not changing nappies, but the organisational and emotional labour that includes constantly breaking up sibling fights, completing school admin or homework, all while making sure everyone has socks (matching ones are a luxury) continues.

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A survey conducted by Kelloggs of 2,000 working parents proved that all the unpaid labour you do before you start your paid work equates to working an entire extra day each week. 

Unpaid labour includes the basics like feeding and washing everyone, the drop offs and commute, and the washing and tidying, but it also might include the mental load of adding items to shopping lists and remembering to take something out the freezer for tonight's dinner while texting other parents about after-school activities.

Some mornings feel like an entire day on their own.

Back to my morning last week, and when I had finally completed the phone call, got myself dressed, made my little one a second breakfast and promised my eldest I'd get him a new toothbrush (add to the never ending shopping list), we were almost there. My youngest may have been dressed in navy pants instead of the correct uniform black, but it was close enough.

But just before 8.45am, as my eye began its daily twitch, I yelled my third (or 17th?) request for everyone to locate a water bottle and put on their socks and shoes. 

As we finally closed the front door to leave, my eldest remembered it was cricket practice and he would need his kit.

I had to laugh, otherwise I would cry. 

Thankfully, a quick check of the emails showed that, mercifully, it was cancelled.

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After delivering them both safely to school and offering up big hugs and kisses at the gate, I made it home in time to switch into 'paid work mode'. I ignored the damp towels that needed washing and the pile of socks still to be put away as I collapsed into my office chair.

Sitting at my desk in peace while I checked emails felt calming compared to the whirlwind of emotion, noise and menial tasks that took up my day to that point.

I'm sorry to say I don't have any real answers and I should probably do more preparation the night before and learn some good parenting hacks from TikTok, but it makes me tired just thinking about it.

When I later posted on Instagram about my morning as therapy, several parent friends commented that they could relate. It's just what we do day-in-day-out to get everyone where they need to be and it's super comforting to know that chaotic parent mornings are normal.

Share the load where you can and if not, as you stand rage-scrubbing a Weet-Bix stain out of your kids' school jumper at 7.30am because he's lost the spare one, know you are not alone.

We've got this! And if we don't, there's always tomorrow. 

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Family Writer. For links to her articles and to see photos of her outfits and kids, follow her on Instagram and  TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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