I completed 48 tasks on Tuesday morning before I dropped off my kids at school and headed to work...to do more tasks.
I was inspired to chronicle the number of tasks I completed after reports of an old survey circulated around parenting websites earlier this week. It said working parents completed an average of 43 tasks each morning, so I was curious about how many I might complete.
There was nothing unusual about this particular Tuesday morning, save for the fact that I was making notes of each "thing" I did as it was done. Tuesday was no more chaotic than any other day, nor was anything extraordinary happening. God forbid it was spirit day or spring concert day at my children's school.
It was an early start to the day: 2 a.m. Yes, I had been awake since that time. See, my 3-year-old has decided he is scared of the dark and wakes up multiple times a night yelling for me and waking up his 5-year-old brother. His older brother then comes wandering out of his room and has to be escorted back. Between 2 a.m. and 5:48 a.m., I had escorted my 5-year old back to bed five times and comforted my 3-year-old back to sleep three times. Luckily, my 7-year-old daughter managed to sleep through this and didn't emerge from her room until 6:30 a.m. The rest of the family was up well before 5 a.m.
Typically I rise at 5 a.m. — a necessary start time so I can complete all the things before I take the older kids to school and head to my job.
But on any particular morning there are the extras: today it was Puzzle Day for my second grader, so I had to remember to pack her favorite pony puzzle. My 5-year-old goes to the library once a week, so I had to track down last week's checked-out book. Two of the three kids have seasonal allergies, so there was medication to administer. My 3-year-old drew with a pencil on the wall, so that had to be cleaned up. My 5-year-old accidentally pulled down the curtain rod in his room so that had to be repaired.
There were backpacks to pack, water bottles to fill, dishes to load and garbage to take out. Uniforms to lay out, pants to iron. Hurt feelings to comfort and a hurt toe to bandage. And on and on and on.
It's no wonder that by the time parents get to work, many feel like they've lived an entire day -- dads included.
"By the time I arrive at the office at 9 a.m., I've completed a complex series of tasks ranging from providing logistical support for the transportation of two unruly boys to their school, untold hours of knot untying and re-tying and engaged in complex negotiations regarding what to eat for breakfast," Joshua David Stein, editor-at-large of Fatherly, told "Good Morning America."
"It leaves me both proud and exhausted. By the time I sit down at my desk, I've already done probably the best and worst thing of my day, so when your childless boss looks up from his matcha at 9:05 a.m. and raises his eyebrows as if to say, 'Five minutes late again?' It takes every iota of self-control to simply apologize rather than say, 'I've lived more in the last 45 minutes than you have your entire life!'"
A 2017 survey by Welch's of 2,000 working mothers found that the average woman with children ages 5 to 12 and a job outside the home works 14-hour days, or 98 hours each week.
Meredith Bodgas, editor-in-chief of Working Mother, shared a few tips with "GMA" for how to plan ahead and reduce morning stress.
Stick to colors and patterns of clothing that are easy to put together
For example, don't give or accept socks as gifts if they're not black or white, Bodgas said.
"The time moms spend searching for matching-pattern or color socks in the laundry is better spent on almost anything else," she said.
Ask your child's teacher for a list of the school year's events
Each September, ask your children's teachers for a full list of the events occurring over the course of the school year so that you can be prepared, Bodgas said.
"Offer to put everything on a Google calendar for her [so] she can share it with all class parents," Bodgas said.
Have class items ready to go
Keep a bucket of suitable show-and-tell items and pre-printed photos of your child with every family member ready to go, Bodgas said.
It'll come in handy on days when you have one of those "oh shoot I didn't realize my kid needed a picture with his real-life hero" moments, she said.