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getting kids ready for school is a whole extra work day

Source: Marilyn Nieves / Getty

One of the harsh lessons I learned as a first-time parent is how much longer it takes to leave the house when an infant joins your family. The last thing you want is to be caught on a long car ride or in the middle of the supermarket without burp cloths, diapers, extra formula and hell a whole extra outfit just in case the baby decides to spit up on the aforementioned list of items. And let’s not forget the STEAM project that can be switching a car seat between vehicles. Around the 3-year mark when my daughter was finally able to face forward in the car seat, I thought the days of lugging a diaper bag were behind us. But the truth is when you transition from having an infant to a toddler, it doesn’t make actually getting out the house any easier. You just end up trading diapers and formula for Goldfish and toy companion travelers. In addition, your child will no longer coo and drool and just be happy to go for the ride. Now you have a toddler in tow who has a list of requests: The teddy bear with the red ribbon (not the one with the white bow), 2.5 goldfish crackers (but only their tails because the heads don’t taste right), milk with specifically 3 teaspoons of strawberry Nesquik powder preferably in the Paw Patrol sippy cup that has been missing since Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A version of this has been my life for the past two years as I am tasked with getting my daughter off to her grandparents every other morning even though I still have trouble getting myself out the bed. Most days she’s fighting a kiddie hangover since she spends half the night avoiding bedtime and turning up to “Clarence” on the Cartoon Network. A few days out of the week I look forward to sleeping in when my husband takes over drop off in the morning, but because he basically has the patience of a pre-schooler himself I usually end up assisting since he has no idea who “Shelly” and “Sheila” the toy turtles look like let alone trying to find wherever our daughter hid and forgot them last night.

Before I became a mom, all I could do is sympathize with my best friend/co-worker as she rushed into work each day, usually ten to fifteen minutes late. Each morning there was a story about missed alarms and breakdowns at the breakfast tables because the Froot Loops were too colorful. Even on her best days she’d be just making it on time still disheveled and exhausted but with a tween and a toddler safely dropped off. It’s not that motherhood has to mean you’re always running late a looking a mess, what it does mean is that even the most organized parents face challenges every morning. When you no longer have just yourself to prepare physically and mentally for the day, things get sacrificed whether it’s your morning coffee, your makeup routine or seeing how that gym dream with Chadwick Boseman ends. Actually according to a new study, those who regularly endure mornings with little people are actually clocking in way earlier than child-free folks even if they are running 15 minutes late each day.

A study conducted by Kellogg’s included the replies of 2000 parents which revealed that the work parents put into getting their kids ready to face the world each day is equivalent to one extra working day each week. The study found that between getting teeth brushed, picking out perfectly colored cereal and finding missing shoes and jackets, parents put in an extra 10 hours each week of “work” due to getting their kids ready for the day. In fact, parents complete about 43 tasks before they even leave the house (and that’s not counting wrestling your child into the car seat). And while getting your children ready for the day isn’t exactly a checklist just shy of 50, research shows that a big part of parents’ morning routines involve preparing for the remainder of the day. My husband can throw on some deodorant, brush his teeth and make a few calls to clients during his commute while entertaining our toddler with a powdered donut to keep her quiet. Mornings with mom are a little different. I’m taking out meat to thaw for dinner, making sure the dog has fresh water and taking out a bag of trash or two in between my baby girl’s beck and call when one of her reptilian passengers goes missing.

Jeremy Harper, Vice President of Marketing, U.S. Snacks at Kellogg shared that the purpose behind the study was to shed light on why many parents are so exhausted before even clocking in:

“We wanted to shed light on what real mornings are like for parents before their kids go off to school.”

And the truth is most of us aren’t fixing a gourmet breakfast of pancakes, eggs and fresh fruit for our kids before getting a morning jog in. Many of us are running with our kids behind a city bus that we missed or putting on our bras inside out because we’re going off 3 hours of sleep and a Monster energy drink. But even though we do the absolute most before clocking in just to make sure our kids get to school in one piece, not everyone’s supervisor is trying to hear that they’re twenty minutes let because you couldn’t get it right with Goldfish crackers. Here are a few tips that help mornings be way less dramatic than they can sometimes be.

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