Time Is Of The Essence


Smart Mama

I spend at least 10 minutes every morning coaxing my 4-year-old to get up.

“Eeehhhh!” she usually moans before rolling over and covering her head.

“Good morning. Good morning,” I sing to her in a sweet voice.

But, she grunts and tightens her grip on the covers even more.

As someone who’s never been a fan of mornings, I know how hard it is to wake up. I also know what it’s like to be jostled awake, against my will, and forced to face the day.

My mother, who has always been an early riser, enjoyed rousting me from bed during my youth. Her methods included banging out a song on the piano (The lyrics were “It’s time to get up, time to get up, time to get up in the morning!), opening the blinds in my room, or, the more direct, “KARA DAWN, IT’S TIME TO GET UP!”

These antics made me cling to my bed and resist the morning with a vengeance.

Now that I have my own daughter, I’ve tried different approaches.

Sadly, my gentle chiding doesn’t usually work, at least not quickly. And I see why my mom had to be more forceful with her wake-up calls.

Mara usually responds after I raise my voice a little, but she’s not happy about it.

And once she’s awake, we move on to stage two of the morning battle: breakfast.

Mara doesn’t like to eat right after she wakes up. She would rather talk, play, watch TV, color a princess picture, snuggle on the coach, and then, if she feels like it, take a bite or two of whatever it is I pull together.

If we had an infinite amount of time, it wouldn’t be a problem for her to mull over her whole-grain waffle and ponder which puddle of syrup to dip her bite into. But we don’t, and the mornings will soon be even busier when we have another baby in the mix.

I’ve tried to instill a sense of urgency in Mara. But it hasn’t really worked.

“Time is of the essence,” I tell her. (It’s a phrase I heard a hostess use on my brother’s wedding day, and I thought it was such a polite way to say, “Get moving!”)

“Focus!” I say, as she picks something up off the floor of my Jeep Liberty instead of sitting in her car seat.

No matter what I say, Mara seems to continue to move at her own slow pace.

Mondays are the worst, because there’s more to remember. Mara needs a fresh blanket, sheet and pillow for naptime. If I’m unlucky, those items are still hanging in a bag, unwashed, from the week before. If I’m lucky, I remembered to pull these things together on Sunday night.

When we finally leave the house, I’m usually carrying at least three bags — my mom purse, an oversized tote with Mara’s school stuff and my lunch box — as I hurry Mara toward the car.

After I get her to school, relief washes over me.

One morning down, I think. Four more to go before the weekend.

Of course, then I remember that Mara is only 4, and I have another baby on the way.

So, it’s more like: One morning down, 19 more years to go.


Kara Eberle is editor of Smart. For more Smart Mama columns, here.

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