Buzz Baby is a column about life with little ones. Writer Annie McQueen has three children under the age of 3.
In order to get my three under the age of 3 out the door (on time) to preschool, I have developed some routines. Since their early toddler days, for example, I have dressed my twins while they are still inside their cribs. I stand on my tiptoes and lean over the crib rail. At 5’4”, I am the perfect height for the crib rail to dig into my rib cage. It’s uncomfortable, but it works, so I don’t care.
I am not going to lie. It’s difficult to leave my house. What I think will take 10 minutes always ends up taking 30 minutes. There are lunches to pack, nap mats to roll up, and diapers (with their names written on them) to be packed. If I don’t want the kids eating peanut-butter crackers in the car on the way to school, there’s got to be time left for breakfast.
After some fails, frustrating mornings and late drop-offs, I’ve learned that, for me, it’s all about preparation – not leaving anything extra to do in the morning outside of dressing and breakfast. I heard from some other Buzz moms who agree, including Molly Edington, who teaches fifth-grade English at St. Francis Episcopal Day School. She and her husband Wade, who owns Surprise Valley Resources, have two kids, Claire, 2, and Brady, 4.
“Everything has to be ready the night before,” said Molly. On Sundays, she washes, cuts and prepackages fruits and vegetables for the week. “I also print labels with the kids’ names on them and label everything for the week. That way, it’s just grab-and-go each morning.”
Molly has to leave her house with her kids at 6:50 a.m. to make it to work at 7:15 a.m. This fall, both kids will ride with her in the car each morning because they’ll be attending St. Francis. This past school year, Wade took Claire to daycare each morning. “This year will be so much easier because Claire and Brady will both go to St. Francis.” said Molly. “They both will have the same drop-off and pick-up times.”
Wade cooks breakfast each morning – meals like eggs and bacon. Meanwhile, Molly makes sure the kids are dressed. “On Sunday, I put a week’s worth of outfits for each of them in a pile in a drawer in my room, and a pile for pajamas and night diapers. We all get dressed first thing,” she said.
Another teacher, Kalee Blackburn, takes her two kids to daycare each morning and then heads to work. Georgia Ann is 2, and brother Case is 3 months. Kalee teaches AP science at Episcopal High School.
Kalee says consistency works for her. “Georgia Ann knows that when she wakes up she has to brush her teeth before breakfast, and then she can eat in her playroom before finally getting dressed,” she said. “I also ask her to help out in the morning with Case, which keeps her occupied.”
Kalee said she keeps it simple with the school gear, so there’s not a whole lot to manage in the household. “I am kind of a minimalist when it comes to school gear,” she said. “For Case, I label his bottles with self-laminating labels from Amazon, and then he has a monogrammed seersucker backpack.”
The working mom’s morning routine has not always been easy. “[I remember] taking Georgia Ann when she was a baby to daycare.” Kalee said that one day, as she pulled into daycare, she noticed an unmistakable odor. “Georgia Ann had had a blow-out diaper in her car seat. I got her into her class, wiped her down, changed her, and headed to work, all without being late.” She said she felt like Supermom.
Then the bell rang, and her high-school students filed into her room. “I just couldn’t get the smell off of me. It wasn’t until around 10 a.m. that I realized I had poop all over my jacket, and had already taught two classes,” the petite redhead said, laughing. “I couldn’t take the jacket off though because I was wearing a spaghetti strap top underneath, and so I had to wash the jacket best I could in the bathroom and keep wearing it the rest of the day.”
If a slightly smelly jacket was the only problem she encountered that day in her morning routine, I think that still counts as a parenting win.
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