Harris started preschool recently, and it has impacted our family dynamic in a myriad of unexpected positive ways. Obviously, he’s out of the house learning new things for a few hours, allowing me to have time at home with Levi. I now have about 6 hours a week when I’m home with only one babe. Since Levi spends most of that time napping, it’s more free time than I’ve had since 2014! I usually spend a couple of those hours creating a blog post, and the rest of the time on housework or projects. I get to accomplish a few tasks, enjoy some one-on-one time with Levi, and Harris comes home elated and exhausted from his morning away. Tuesdays and Thursdays are far and away our favorite days of the week.
Those changes aren’t the biggest though. In order for the new schedule to work well for everyone, we’ve made some major adjustments to our mornings. We are now waking Levi up at 6:30 so that he can still get a good morning nap and be up again before picking his big brother up from school. Instead of Brian and I enjoy the flexibility of waking up whenever our schedule (or kids) demanded it (somewhere between 6:30-7 am), we’ve got our alarms set early, so we can be up in time for a few peaceful sips of coffee before the day begins. I know that for many people, an early alarm clock is totally normal. For us though, it is a new thing, and we are blown away by the benefits from an earlier start to the day.
A Calmer Start
First of all, the day is smoother and happier for everyone if I’m able to have a few sips of coffee in quiet aloneness before greeting my boys. If I give in to the temptation to sleep in, we’ll all pay for it because I’ll struggle with patience and a good attitude for the rest of the day. If I’m awake before the boys, I am more likely to feel in control of my mood and the of the flow of the household for the duration of the day.
Time to Dress
I feel that my whole day is smoother when the whole family is dressed and ready before Brian heads off to work. By “dressed”, I mean the boys are in play clothes with their teeth brushed and hair combed. I have a good outfit on, makeup applied, hair done, earrings on and all of it. When I am fully dressed, my morale is higher, and I feel more active rather than restful. When the boys are set, I feel ready to take on the day, rather than wrestling clothes onto boys who would rather be playing. With Brian home and helping with the kids for more time in the morning, I’ve been able to accomplish that.
Time to Eat
For the most part, the boys eat yogurt for breakfast and Brian and I have granola. I’ve noticed that Harris is ravenous after school, so I started making a heartier breakfast on school days. It’s nice to eat a hot breakfast as a family once in a while!
Earlier Start To The Day
Since we’re getting things going earlier in the day, I feel ready for the real jobs of the day earlier as well. Whether that task is laundry, errands, gardening, cleaning, a play date or outing for the boys, I’m ready to take it on earlier. Rather than struggling to be out the door by 9, we’re all fully ready by about 8:15. I can get out and get an errand started long before I need to think about naps. Those extra 45 minutes mean more things crossed off my list and a feeling of greater accomplishment at the end.
Because the kids are up earlier, they are tired earlier. Brain and I are getting up earlier as well, so we’re doing our best to be in bed at a reasonable hour. (Still far from successful at that, but we’re trying.) Brian and I committed to capturing those evening hours, so we can have some personal time before turning in. We have to really stay on top of things in order to get dinner made and eaten, the house tidied, the dishes washed, and the kids ready for bed in a compressed window, but we’ve been able to bump the kids’ bedtime down 30 minutes. Levi is now down at 7 pm, and Harris at 7:30. Now, we’re done with evening chores no later than 8 pm, when we used to be working away until at least 9 pm. It’s only an hour, but it feels like so much more time for projects or just to relax as a couple!
I really can’t believe how much preschool has changed things for us. The tiny extra challenge it’s added is far outweighed by ways we’ve adjusted our lifestyle. This is just another example of the many ways parenthood has made me a better person. This one small change has helped me to capture and use my time more effectively, it’s helped Brian and I grow and work harder for a common goal, it’s opened a window for us to practice healthy exercise and sleep habits, and it’s helped me to be a calmer, happier mom throughout the day. While parenthood is no easy gig, I’ve grown from it, my life is richer for it, and I am a better person because of those two sweet boys.