‘I awake Pappa, Moomin’s awake, I awake, time to wake up, I awake Pappa’
The light starts getting too strong for the blackout blinds and Little Bear climbs into our bed and starts patting my head. I know that any movement will be an admission of being conscious, so I stay perfectly still, and naïvely believe that he will give up after a few minutes and let me go back to sleep. I slowly open one eye.
‘Now you awake Pappa! I awake! Weekabix! You awake Pappa! Mamma look! Pappa awake!’ and the wake up dance and jump on Pappa begins.
Getting out the door with a toddler is never easy. But when they’ve moved firmly into the ‘boundary testing stage’ at 2 and a half, it becomes all the more difficult.
No sense of urgency
Pappa: We’re going to miss the train Little Bear! Let’s move, come on!
Little Bear: We miss the train! Oh dear! We miss the train!... Oh, Lego, wait. I just play a little while.
Toddlers might parrot your sense of urgency in the morning, but they don’t feel it the same way you do. This is probably the defining feature of trying to get out in the morning with a tot. For them, it’s ok to spend 5 minutes with you discussing whether to wear sandals or boots, or to try and persuade you they can go to nursery naked. All the while, you’re looking at the clock realising you’ve missed yet another train.
It’s funny how when we tell them it’s time to brush their teeth at the end of the day or to leave soft play, they suddenly have the ability to move at lightning speed: running away to carry on playing.
Gotta follow the routine
After being woken up twice last night because Little Bear ‘needed’ to watch Hey Duggie at mid-night, and then found it essential I gave his Moomin Troll a plaster because he ‘hurt his finger’ (Moomin’s don’t even have fingers), I did not want to be woken up at 6:00 am.
But 6:00 am is his wake up time, so 6:00 am is my wake up time. Like clock-work, we then head down stairs for breakfast. He makes us both coffee (don’t worry, it’s just warm milk, I’m not insane enough to give a toddler caffeine) which we drink together on the armchair. We wave Mamma off to work and then sit down for our Weetabix. Finishing off the cereal by drinking the rest of the milk out of our bowls (few things make me happier than seeing him mimic my bad habits), we then head to getting dressed.
I’ve learnt there’s no point in trying to change the morning routine. Reason with Little Bear on many things, no problem, but as far as he’s concerned, altering the wake-up routine with getting changed before breakfast or eating something other than Weetabix is inherently unreasonable. So persuasion just ain’t gonna work.
Tie this together with ‘no sense of urgency’, and you realise there’s no point in ever agreeing to an early morning meeting.
It would be nice if, on certain mornings, you could take over and do certain things for them to speed things up.
Pappa: ‘Shall I carry you down the stairs little guy?’
Little Bear: ‘No, I go myself’
Pappa: ‘Shall I feed you the cereal just a bit quicker’
Little Bear: ‘No, I eat it myself’ *whispers* ‘really, s’owly’
Getting out the door
Pappa: ‘Can I push you in the buggy to the train?’
Little Bear: ‘No, I push buggy myself’ (least efficient way to travel anywhere with a toddler)
When it comes to getting out the door and making the next train, you finally end up with a combination of all of these. You can get him excited about going swimming, the park or seeing his friends at nursery. But none of this enthusiasm will give him a sense of urgency, encourage him to break with his routine, or stop insisting on doing everything himself.
But I’ll be honest, I’m gonna miss our ‘morning coffees’ when he gets bigger.
I'm Dave, dad of Little Bear. Also known as 'Pappa' to the little man as we try and bring out his Swedish roots