School mornings - the struggle is real

Posted on July 31 2016

Getting three children dressed and ready to leave the house is an epic task.

You know that movie, 50 First Dates? Where Drew Barrymore suffers a head injury and each day when she wakes, all her memories have gone? The guy that is in love with her, Adam Sandler, has to basically reintroduce himself everyday and get her to fall in love with him.

I am Adam Sandler, and my kids are Drew Barrymore. Each day, my children wake, forgetting that they go to school.

Every day, I wake them up. I creep in, gently kiss them and whisper, 'wake up my darling, it's time to get up'. They are so gorgeous, sweet smelling, warm and snuggly. I am always overcome with love at this point, wondering how I got so lucky. They lightly stir and roll over, not quite ready to face the day.

I go back to the kitchen and start to make my coffee. While the machine is heating, I walk back to their rooms. Treading heavier this time, making my footsteps heard. I remove the doona from their scrunched faces, still gently, but firmer than before. 'Guys, come on, up you get'. At this point I am met with some resistance. The doona goes back up. I pull it back down. They groan. Flip over and bury their sleepy heads in their pillow. 'Five more minutes' they mutter.

Back to the kitchen I go where I add the finishing touches to their lunch boxes, fill their water bottles and pack their bags.

This time I mean business. Sh*ts getting real. Down the hallway I go, flipping lights with purpose, my voice getting louder. 'Right. Up. Now'. Their bedroom lights are on, I tear their doona's back. They screech at me as though I have doused them in boiling oil. 'What are you doing? Turn off the light! My eyes!'.

Nice, Mary Poppins mum has gone. I'm suddenly the evil stepmother from Cinderella. They cannot believe the injustice of being woken from their slumber.

Unnecessarily, or so I think, I yell, 'get ready for school!'. They stare at me like I am speaking a foreign language. As if they have never heard of school, and that we haven't been doing this bullsh*t routine for over 5 years.

To calm my rage, back to the kitchen I go, pour my coffee, and take a sip. Heaven. I need it. It's good. Essential. They wander out. I take a deep breath, force a smile, and ask what they want to eat. I am met with blank stares. 'Guys! Food! Breakfast! What do you want?!' 'Nothing', they mumble, and head to the coonara, where I have placed their uniforms to avoid the imminent 'I can't find my uniform' struggle.

They fight. One is getting more heat than the other. One's clothes are warmer than the other. One pointed their bum at the other and farted. Shrieks of 'NO I DIDN'T, I HATE YOU, YOU ARE A SOOK, YOU LIKE HER BETTER THAN ME' begin.

2 year old is now awake and up. Excellent. Just what I need. He's so cute and cuddly in the morning in his Toy Story pj's. The girls flock to him and inevitably fight over him. He's smart. He plays them against each other. More tears and screams ensue.

I put out the cereal, bread, Nutella and vegemite and call out 'help yourself'. Lazy mother you say. Whatever. I don't care what you think. I tell them I'll be back in five minutes, and that when I am, I want them sitting at the table, dressed and eating.

I have a cigarette. Check Facebook, emails, Instagram, play angry birds. 5 minutes peace. I can hear them inside. I know they are not following instructions.

I go back in and am met with cereal on the ground. No one is dressed, the TV is on. I was a firm believer in no TV in the morning but it's the only way to keep 2 year old occupied. So I allow it. But they are ALL watching it. Glued to Toy Story like they haven't watched it 543 times this week. 'No! No no no no!' Breakfast now!' 'I want French toast' says one. 'I want fruit salad' says the other. 'You have to get up earlier than you do if you want stuff like that for breakfast', I say. I slice a banana in a bowl each, dump yoghurt on it and declare it a fruit salad. Or a deconstructed smoothie. Whatever. They eat it.

Once again, I tell them to get dressed. I can tell they are hearing me but it's not sinking in. They are still shocked that they must get dressed. I am the one shrieking now like a deranged hag, and as I head to the shower, I hear them mutter things like 'psycho' and 'what's her problem'.

I take a four minute shower, as I don't trust them to be unsupervised for any longer. They still manage to interrupt my shower time by using the toilet, flushing it while I'm in there, burning me in the process. 'Sorrrrry' they say, smiling sweetly. I know they aren't. They meant it, probably even planned it. It's my punishment for making them get up and get dressed.

My short but sweet shower has somewhat calmed me, and as I'm drying off, I call out, 'are you guys ready? Clothes, shoes, hair, teeth, iPads?' 'Yes mum!', they lie. I shouldn't have mentioned iPads. Why did I do that. I quickly dress and head out to the lounge room. Miss 9 is dressed. Sitting on the couch doing a video on her iPad. Miss 6 is half dressed with Nutella in her eyebrow, taking selfies on her iPad. They jump up as they see me, they know I'm mad. 'Im ready!!' says Miss 10. I raise my eyebrow. That does it. I have fierce eyebrows. She is in the bathroom brushing her teeth in 2 seconds. Miss 6 is oblivious. She's still taking selfies but is now pirouetting as well. She's just started dancing. I grab her like a baby, wash her face, put on her pants, do her hair, and lead her to the bathroom. I put her toothpaste on her brush and stand there like a teacher supervising a test. She does a mediocre job, slower than a sloth, so I take over and brush her teeth. She spits. Half in the basin, half down her shirt. Happy days. She wipes it with her wet hand, smearing it further so it looks like a pelican has shat all down the front of her. Deep breaths. Pick your battles. At least people will know she actually brushed her teeth. That's important.

I quickly dress Mr 2. This is like wrestling an oiled piglet. I shove him into his clothes while he is shooting me with 'rays' and pretending to be a race car driver, complete with sounds. I am covered in his spit from said sound effects, but it's time to go.

We are all ready, all we need to do is get in the car. Simple!


I open the front door, and suddenly everyone is conscientious. They want to be first out the door and in the car. This causes jammed fingers, screams, and tripping. When my front door opens, it's as if my house has suddenly given birth to screaming demented massive triplets. Sorry neighbours.

We get in the car. Seatbelts are on. I reverse out the driveway and we are on our way. I hear a very quiet 'muuum' from the back seat. My eyes flick to the rear view mirror. Miss 6 shrinks in her seat. 'I forgot my water bottle'. 'I put it in your bag' I tell her. 'I took it out again' she says. I breathe and try not to plant my foot on the accelerator. Luckily my car is as untidy as my house. I reach behind me and pull an empty pump bottle from under the seat. Crisis averted.

We arrive at school. We made it. We hop out and walk in. I kiss goodbye like mother of the year, tell them I love them and that I'll miss them. I'm lying. I love them. But I won't miss them. Not until I've gotten home and cleaned up the aftermath of the morning.

This is not an extraordinary day. This is every day. I've gotten up earlier, I've tried routine, I've tried everything. I've made their breakfast, they don't eat it. Nothing seems to make the mornings go any smoother. They still manage to move slower than the sloths in Zootopia.

I'm sure when they are grown up and gone, and the house is quiet, with no hustle and bustle, I'll look back on these days with fondness. I'll laugh about Nutella in the eyebrows and pelican crap on the shirt. But now? Man it's hard.



  • The Thrifty Issue: August 05, 2016

    I don’t think I could cope if that was my morning every morning. We have a solid routine, my kids alarm goes off at 7am, they get ready, pack their own lunches etc. I get myself ready, we leave at 8:30am. They are 7 and 8 years old.

    Funny read though :)

  • Tania H: August 03, 2016

    Bwaaa!!! Pelican crap!! What a killer!! But TOTALLY what happens at our place too!! We are all in the same boat!

  • Nikki: August 02, 2016

    Claire, the only way I managed to end the routine that sounded way too similar to yours… I stay in bed and make them do everything!! Didnt take them long to work out how to do their lunch, make breakfast and get themselves dressed. They still watch tv and probably play ipads. But they are out the door at 8.30am everyday with little yelling and screaming from me now. I know I’m not mother of the year for doing this but as a single mum I do whatever it takes to not lose my sanity!!

  • Donna: August 01, 2016

    So true growing up down south, it was hard, now my children go to a school up north where you don’t have to wear shoes, they leave their bags (with a change of clothes for days when they play in the rain) & hats on a hook at school, have water fountains with filtered water (school discourage water bottles), they wake at 6.30 when the sun comes up as its not to hot best part of the day so they can play in the garden & often we have a quick swim to wake up for the day before school, they do their own lunch tins, afew pieces of fruit & veg in too and sandwiching in bottom, the oldest helps with littler ones. We do forget things, violin, hats, lunchtins, but mornings are easier now and if we are having a bad morning and late we don’t stress life’s way to short to worry about a late tick on the roll, I do feel your morning pain as mine where the same until I found a school and lifestyle, a rythum that worked for us all, my children are 10,7,5 & 8 weeks x

  • Gina : August 01, 2016

    Love your blogs, can always relate! This depicts a typical school day in my household too, however we’re not alone!!

  • tara lay: July 31, 2016

    It sounds like i just read about mornings at my house. Lol great read…

  • Locky Harben: July 31, 2016

    So true Claire. What I like to refer to as the morning cyclone. It’s as dreaded as the after school hangover, where they seem to fight none stop over the stupidest things until bedtime. By which still is usually about half an hour after they have been told to get to bed. Good luck this week and I’ll see you on the battlefield.

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