The Working Single Mom’s Guide to Surviving Early Mornings With Young Children

Let’s not lie to each other. Early mornings suck. They suck no matter who you are—unless you’re filled with some kind of superhuman strangeness, in which case I question our ability to be friends—but they especially suck if you have young kids to fight to get ready in the morning.

My boys are wonderful, as I’m sure your kids are. But during the work week, it’s a rare day that they don’t wake up swinging! I can’t blame them. They get their hatred for the break of dawn from me. Many mornings, despite my best efforts to bring them into early hour waketitude like Mary Poppins on crack, the 5 a.m. reveilles can still be a struggle.

So, if you too struggle to enjoy the hours before even the sun thinks it’s a good idea to shine, I’ve put together just a few simple tips to help you warrior up and power through.

1. Coffee. Lots of coffee. This requires no further explanation.


2. Deep breaths. Again, fairly self-explanatory.

3. Two words: Paw Patrol.

Don’t you dare judge me. Maybe your bag of Mary Poppins tricks is bigger than mine and you don’t have to resort to the tv; but over here, we get in where we fit in. There are few things in this world my sons love more than Paw Patrol. I thank God for those little pups because many days, it’s the promise of 15 minutes of Paw Patrol that keeps us all sane and able to endure the morning marathon. If I can nix a toddler tantrum with reminders that downstairs waiting for us is Paw Patrol and a cup of milk, then I am all in. The pups really do save the day!


4. Release your need for things like matching socks, clean hair or food.

Let me tell you something. Life is too short to waste it looking for macthing socks. Grab the two that look the most similar and keep it moving. Next, invest in some good dry shampoo, spray that $#!% on and get going. Unless you plan to wake up an hour earlier to do unnecessary things like shower, I suggest rocking the hair-up look. You can pull this look off for at least two days before bathing becomes absolutely necessary. Work smarter not harder folks. And as for the food, let’s be serious! Slap some almond butter on a wrap the night before and shovel it in while you sing songs to keep everyone awake and happy on the way to the babysitter’s house, day care or school.

5. Deep breaths.

You’re going to need frequent reminders throughout the morning to keep breathing. When your toddler is collapsing into a pile of 2-year-old mush because you put a shirt on him, or he’s screaming like a cat on fire because you asked him to walk on his own legs, you’re going to need to take a few deep breaths. This is essential to everyone’s survival.

When you start tensing up and wanting to scream, and you feel your will to live slipping through your fingers, they will usually do something like say, “Mommy, I love you!” and you will find the strength to make it through the rest of the morning. You’re all going to be just fine!

6. Keep your expectations low.

Let’s face it. Even adults don’t do mornings all that well. I’m not sure how we can really expect our toddlers to do much better. I’m doing the happy dance and feeling like freaking super mom if we make it out the door on time with only a few minutes of crying from each child and no raised voices from me. I’d love the mornings to be 100 percent smooth and pleasant for us all, but sometimes, it’s just not feasible. We do the best we can and that’s all there is.

Remember, in a few minutes you’ll have finished the race and they’ll be with the babysitter. When you drop them off, you’ll need your energy to fight off that pesky mix of guilt and relief, so don’t burn the candle at both ends!


When all else fails, drink more coffee! If you’re like me, or any mom, you start the day about three hours before your day actually starts, and you’re probably running on three to five hours of interrupted sleep and adrenaline. If you don’t want to bottom out at 9 a.m., I suggest the coffee.

Good luck and God speed mamas!

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Rachael Boley
Rachael is a 29 year old single mom of 3 little nuggets-identical twin 2 1/2 year olds and a 14 month old. She works full time as an Oncology Social Worker, and in her "spare time," she wrestles, snuggles, and loves on her three boys. She moonlights as a blogger and writer, and spends her days learning to enjoy this crazy, messy beautiful life of single motherhood. Follow her on her blog Three Boys and a Mom and on her Facebook page , and read more of her writings at Divorced Moms.