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My girls are both in full-time, year-round daycare.  Now that they’re both out of the infant/toddler age group, they start a “new” school year every September.  This year, they’ve been moved to the preschool and pre-K classes.  This is BigC’s last year in daycare and LittleC has 2 years to go.  So basically, in about 731 days, our household cash flow will rival that of Beyonce’s.  After 6 years of daycare payments, it could feel like I’m rich enough to shower with a bottle of Cristal.  I’ll be at the after-party in the hotel lobby, paying cash, first class, sitting next to Vanna White.  Ya know, with the rest of the moms.  (I’ve been told that it doesn’t really work like that.)  Anyway.  A girl can dream.

After 5 years of daycare life, you might say that I’m awesome at leaving my children in the capable, competent, loving arms of child care workers.  And some days you’d be right.  And some days you’d be so very terribly wrong.  But when it goes right, it’s because I stick to the plan:

Prepare the night before.  When you think you’ve got everything pulled together, you don’t.  Do it again.  I am not kidding. 
The night-before-prep-time is really your only chance at getting everyone out the door, dressed, clean, and not crying.  Depending on what meals and snacks you need to send, you may need to prep breakfast (either at home, or like us, on the go) and lunch.  Prep everyone’s outfits, find that left shoe, and straighten up the bathroom so that you don’t lean into a glob of toothpaste. Read all of the forms and notes.  Pack the school bags. 

Put your own oxygen mask on first.
Don’t skimp on your shower or your own prep time. Get yourself ready for your day.  Don’t forget to make your own lunch or coffee or whatever it is that you need.  If you don’t feel good about yourself, if you don’t feel prepared, if you’re totally rushed, if you’re running through a drive thru for coffee or lunch every day, you’ll feel pretty terrible about yourself. Remember that you’re the glue; you’re the most important person in your family.  If you’re off your game, things will start to suffer.  And by things, I mean your patience.

Keep it simple, smartie.
In order to tackle everything – you may need to take a few shortcuts along the way (Hello, dry shampoo, I love you).  This could mean shortening your shower or showering at night or never washing your hair (stop judging me).  Simplify your makeup and hair routines.  You may want to think about giving yourself a little daily uniform.  My choice is usually a shift dress with a jacket or a cardigan.  To me, a dress is one piece of clothing, you can mix up your layers (add a scarf, trade heels for boots, etc.), and it looks put together, even if you slip it on as you’re walking out the door.  Which I do, every day. Simple.

Pick your fricken battles.
If your kid wants to wear something ridiculous, let them.  If there’s a battle over a hairdo (one ponytail vs. two), if they want to bring something along for the car ride, LET THEM.  Let it go.  Just get out the door.  Once you’re in the car, take a few deep breaths. 

Daycare Kids
Daycare Kids

Stay positive. 
In the car and on the way into school focus on the wonderful things that will happen that day: playing with friends, being the line leader, finger paints, etc.  Try to keep moving, settle them into the class, give the goodbyes, and make your move to leave.  If things look good, you’ve done it!  Success!  Onto the rest of your day!  If things look bad, enlist the help of the teacher and maybe another kid to aid in the distraction.  Stay positive, don’t drag it out.  It may take a few days, but it will get better. 

What do you find helps you?  Any morning routine horror stories?  I have a really good one… remind me to tell you about the car keys incident.  Some days are better than others, not gonna lie. But if you can get into a routine, and keep your cool, you’ll be ahead of the game.

 

Image credit: Children Clip Art 6 / Karens Whimsy 

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Also a transplant to New Jersey and Mercer County, Merritt McGlynn is walking a tightrope between career woman and devoted mother: hanging on for dear life with her dishpan hands. Merritt is a mom to two of the most adorable children in Jersey: a darling and spunky 4-year-old and a certifiably insane but heart-melting almost-3-year-old. Married to the always-working "Coach", Merritt tries to maintain some appearance of a work-life balance, and often finds that the scales are usually tipped in one direction or the other - but she’s still trying! In her spare time, if she ever gets any, Merritt would like to read books, travel with her husband, drink margaritas on the deck, and one day, if she’s really lucky, enjoy a phone conversation without interruptions. For now, she’ll settle for 20 minutes of an Audrey Hepburn movie and a diet coke.

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