By: John Jericiau
To say that life with two toddlers is hectic is a serious understatement. Every single day is a battle to beat the clock, and it begins from the moment my eyes creak open early in the morning. On any given morning it’s either Alen or me who tries to sneak out of the house before dawn in order to make it to our master’s swim workout on time. Any extraneous noises (flushing toilet, running water, a pin dropping) could potentially wake up one or both of the boys and thereby put the brakes on the escape. Too many times when the boys were a little younger it seemed like they had an internal alarm clock set to wake them up 5 minutes before we were set to head out the door, but lately they sleep in more and only awaken early on special occasions like every Sunday morning when we both really really need the sleep.
On most weekdays around 7am we enter the hour-long “prep for preschool phase” which consists of (in random order based on the day) bathroom, breakfast, dressing, and grooming. I learned early on to lay their school clothes out the night before in order to reduce the amount of thinking I have to do in the morning. I’ve learned to get them dressed just before we head out, since I did not find wiping that upchucked oatmeal off their clothes to be particularly fun. Breakfast choices can often be a challenge, as their tastes change on a daily basis. Cinnamon oatmeal, while delicious on Monday, may be gag-inducing on Tuesday. It’s a rush hour, but I make it work. I still use their high chairs to control the morning chaos. I can see myself lubing their bodies up in a few years so that I can still squeeze them into those mini-prisons. Are high chairs for 8-year-olds so wrong?
Since they often grow an inch overnight, it’s not uncommon for me to be horrified that I’m sending my sons to school in pants that seem ready for the Great Flood, or shirts that show more midriff than Brittany Spears. And sometimes I justify Dylan’s messy hairdo by making myself believe that bedhead is fashion-forward. And as we are walking to school hand in hand and their fingernails are piercing the first three layers of my skin, I am reminded that I should’ve trimmed their nails at least a week ago.
In between the morning activities, I obsessively try to empty the dishwasher, load some laundry, make the beds, throw out the trash, and lay out their pajamas for the next round that evening. I do this because the more I get done before I leave with them for school, the less time will be eaten away by these activities when I return for “me time”. Yes, I do get this time now that they are both in half-day preschool, and I know I should feel so grateful. Theoretically this should be a solid three hours –preschool is 8:30am to 11:30am. But anyone who lives my life knows that this “my time” is actually a misnomer, and the outside world will do anything to reduce it! Teachers announce that they want us to pick them up at 11:20am … that’s 10 minutes erased from the three hours. Fellow parents share morning conversations or set up play dates – which is good – but another 15 minutes melts away. Of course 10 minutes of walking to and from the school eats up another 20 minutes. God forbid I have to go grocery shopping during “my time” – with a focus on the task at hand, a list ready on my iPhone, and pushing my shopping cart at a brisk but continuous pace, I have timed myself at 20 minutes on a good day, 25 if I zip over to the dry cleaner next door as well. I’m dedicated to daily exercise, so an hour run or workout eats up at least an hour and a half when you consider dressing for the workout (5 min), stretching (30 seconds), showering (5 min), grooming (10 min), and dressing (10 min). Sometimes to save time I completely cut out the grooming, even forgetting to so much as glance in the mirror before I leave the house! And then if I can fit it in I will eat some breakfast, shunning anything that has significant cooking time or waiting involved. Cereal or unwanted cinnamon oatmeal are two great quick choices.
As the proverbial school bell rings at 11:20am it’s like the end of a heavyweight fight, and the opportunity to get much else done all day is virtually lost. The rest of the day is filled with fun activities and meals, and little else. I set my sights for 7:30pm, when our little angels will be fast asleep and I can rest my weary body for the same thing tomorrow. Plus some house cleaning. And yard work. And bill paying. And blogging.