Giving Some of My Morning to My Son
Making changes to my morning routine to accommodate my early-bird third-grader.
Mornings are my sacred time. I am usually awake between 4:00 and 4:30 a.m. Coffee, journal, reading, then writing. At 6:45 I wake my husband and by 7:00 we make sure that the kids are moving so that they can be ready for school. But this means I usually have more than two hours of uninterrupted “me” time for focused writing.
About two weeks ago, my 9-year-old son began appearing in my office around 6:00 a.m. After greeting me, he would perch on the nearby daybed. Sometimes he would lie down. He was quiet, but his presence was distracting.
The minutes would go by and I had one eye on him, one eye on my writing. Finally, he would announce that he was hungry and ask me to help him get a bagel. I begrudgingly would go to the kitchen and retrieve a plate from the cupboard and bagels from the top shelf in the fridge. He’d want a glass of milk to go with his bagel so I would pour it for him.
This entire process was short, but it was enough to disrupt my morning routine. Try as I might, I couldn’t settle back into writing after that. Day after day, I felt like 45 minutes had been stolen from me each morning.
Then one day I had an epiphany. When he asked for a bagel, my response was “You’re nine years old. You can get your own breakfast.” I was pleased with my parenting prowess — teaching valuable life skills. My son didn’t see it that way. He pitched a fit about needing to use a stool to reach both the plate and the bagels. But I was insistent. Day after day, when he asked for breakfast, I told him to get it himself.
He and I recently began reading together in the evenings. This was something we used to do regularly, but the pandemic and “too much togetherness” threw us out of whack. Now we have settled back into the habit and are reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. He snuggles in so close to me as I read aloud, trying my best to do different character voices.
It was in one of those snuggle moments that I realized what I was giving up in the morning by making him get breakfast himself. He was coming into my office to spend time with me. Since he is 9, I don’t know how much longer he’ll want to hang out with mom like that.
So I shifted my morning routine. Rather than journal and read first, I began writing right away. When my son appears at 6:00 a.m., I bring my coffee, journal, and book into the kitchen. Today he wanted cereal, so he ate Cheerios. I sat across from him at the table, reading and writing. He wasn’t interested in talking to me — he only wanted to be near me.
After finishing his cereal, he announced that he was going to start working on homework on his Chromebook and disappeared back to his room. I am using the remainder of the morning time to plan out my day, something I also used to do “first” and have shifted to “last.”
Who knows how long this morning time together will last. But as long as he wants to have breakfast with me, I’ll be there.