Ah, back to school. Most moms breathe a sigh of relief as the bus pulls away that first day.
But by day four or five, what begins as mild mayhem starts its slow creep to complete chaos.
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From the time I wake up to the time the last child is out the door spans a total of 135 minutes. That's no small piece of property. It's way too much time to be unintentional about. The way the day begins is usually how it's going to carry on, so I have a few ways to ensure mornings run as smoothly as possible with this many people to manage.
Get up early. This is the simplest—and the hardest—piece of the whole puzzle. I get up an entire hour earlier than the little people to ensure I have time to have coffee, spend time in the Word and prayer, and get lunches started.
Spend time in the Word and prayer. Yes, I repeated myself. But it's the most important part of my day so it needs to be on the list. Nothing good EVER comes from not getting going—right from the get go—with God.
Don't even look at your phone. Did you know more than half of Americans check their email first thing in the morning? That's crazy. I can't think of a single worse place to begin my day than in my inbox. Not to mention distraction. If I even glance at my phone I'm immediately distracted by the notifications that came in the night and my need to respond right away.
Do at least a little prep the night before. I don't really like ending the day prepping lunches or laying things out. I'm a firm believer in, "Don't worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" (Matthew 6:34). Plus, I'd rather be on my back porch with a glass of wine. But a little goes a long way in regard to preparation. Even just knowing the coffee maker is ready to go emboldens me to get out of bed when 0 Dark Thirty rolls around. On a good evening, I'm inspired enough to at least get the snacks for the littlest two ready and in their backpacks. Again, that puts me a tiny bit further ahead in the Herculean effort of ensuring five (sob, Sophie's not here this year) children have enough food to last them through school and often sports right after.
When the sullen teenagers attempt to bring you down with their lack of enthusiasm about getting out of bed or their assurance that they have absolutely nothing to wear, breathe. And then try to remember something you read in Scripture that morning. That went very well for me even today because I had read about not being a hypocrite just moments before: "they claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him" (Titus 1:16). Losing my temper on an unsuspecting, barely awake six foot man-child was not an option after that one. (Thank you, Jesus).
Run! (Or do something that gets you moving). Running is my sanity. It's also when I get my best ideas for teaching and writing. So I reward myself with a workout after all are out of the house. It also helps re-motivate me for the rest of the day. I've already been up for OVER TWO HOURS and the only thing I've accomplished is my time with the Lord (which is a lot) and lunches (which is not). Running recharges me for whatever comes next.
Finally, plan to do one thing that scares you a little today. When my alarm goes off, I hit snooze and spend the next 5 minutes thanking God for giving me another day, and then dreaming about what He may be asking me to do today. I get into a rut if I don't force myself to step out of my comfort zone once in a while. If I never get that crazy butterflies-in-my-gut feeling, I know I'm coasting. Stepping out in small ways everyday helps me develop confidence for the big things God may be calling me to later.