As mothers of school-age children, we all experience morning chaos, but do we get a chance to connect with our kids before they go to school? I have learned that getting six kids out the door by 7:30 a.m. almost always turns my house into an impressive mess. One that I get to clean up when I return home shortly after. From the time we all get up, to the time we slam the front door shut, I am often keeping the kids on track with brushing their teeth, giving the baby her bottle, and filling lunch boxes.
Our mornings tend to be lively and a little chaotic before we line up in our entryway to pile into our big suburban. I am usually so exhausted from being up with the baby at night, and I am still in my pajamas with my mental checklist for the day bouncing around in my head.
This is my first year with four kids in elementary school. We have a third grader, first grader and two kindergartners. My four-year-old son and six-month-old foster daughter have the privilege of waking up early, riding in the car, and coming back home with me. When I get back home with them, I’m a little more awake and head over to my anticipated cup of coffee.
I don’t mind the morning chaos, really. The kids all work together, and frankly I am impressed that we get to school on time every day. But what doesn’t sit well with me is how I don’t connect with my kids before they leave. If they are eating breakfast, I am packing lunches or checking the calendar for who has library day. It bothers me that the kids hop out of the car in the school drop-off line after a rushed start to their day. I don’t want them going to school all day with the only interaction with me being that I scooted them along from task to task.
One morning a few months ago, we managed to get ready with time to spare. I almost felt lost, like I was forgetting something. But, with the hope of keeping their coats on and their hair presentable, I told the kids to find a spot on the couch so we could pray together until it was time to go.
We sat around our living room, and each child took a turn praying. The house was peaceful for a moment. I took a a deep breath and relaxed as I listened to their soft voices giving their concerns to God. I heard them ask God to help them learn at school and make good choices. I even heard them pray for each other to have a good day, and their dad to have a safe drive to work. As I finished the prayer, I felt contented knowing that we were spending quality time together before we each went our own way.
After the kids were gone, I was back in my kitchen wiping jam off of the counter, feeling happy. I had something to hold on to while I did my morning chores. I realized this was a great opportunity for us to connect at the start of our day. To my surprise, the kids loved it as much as I did, and later asked if we could do it every morning!
So now we take the last five to ten minutes before we head out the door to slow down and connect as a family. On the rare morning when we have more chaos than anticipated, we pray in the car. (And of course, the kids remind me to keep my eyes open and hands on the wheel!)
Our world thrives on busy, and it is easy to rush through the morning, grabbing a quick breakfast and throwing everything together, so we can bolt out the door. But as a mother of young children, I know that I have to slow down sometimes and connect with each one. I hope this encourages other families to think about changes they can make to connect as a family, even if it is just five minutes a day.