Things always seem to go wrong in the mornings at my house. I go to bed thinking that everything is going well. When I wake up, things go awry. This morning, the Tuesday after a holiday weekend, I had a lot scheduled. At work, I was scheduled to teach my first class of the semester, along with the other tasks I do every day. In addition, our family was responsible for providing snacks for 20 children each day for a week at my child’s school. While I expected a busy day, I was not quite prepared for the difficulty I experienced in the first hour of the morning.
Things started to go downhill when I was awakened by a summer thunderstorm. The storm continued with heavy rain and wind throughout the morning. When it was time to leave for my child’s school, I used an umbrella to tote all the snacks, my bookbag, my work computer, and my child’s lunch to the car in three trips. Then it was time for my child to get in the car. I escorted her to the car and was busy strapping her into the carseat when my umbrella took flight in the gusty wind. It went flying up in the air, landing ten feet in front of the car. So, I had to go out into the pouring rain to retrieve the umbrella..
By the time that I got back to the car, I was drenched. The inside of the car was soaked. And there were three mosquitoes loose in my car. So, I proceeded to drive to school slowly because of the flooded streets. As I drove, I swatted the mosquitoes. You are probably not surprised to learn that we were ten minutes late to school, where I reversed the process of loading the car. With my umbrella, I first walked my daughter into school. Then back to the car to get the snacks and her lunch. Once I dropped her, her lunch, and her snacks off at school, I thought my difficulties were over.
Not quite. After dropping her off, I got on the highway where traffic was crawling along at 30 miles an hour because of the rain and multiple traffic accidents. It was still raining when I got to work, so I opened up my umbrella to walk from the car to the building. But, unfortunately the umbrella had been damaged in its earlier flight at my house. So, some loose part of it became entangled…in my hair. So, I had to walk into work carrying a computer and my book bag, with an umbrella attached to my head.
So, all of this occurred in the first 60 minutes of my morning. I arrived at work drenched with my hair wild, having been attached to a broken umbrella. My child was late to school, and my car still probably has mosquitoes flying around in it.
Many people would probably just go home after this experience thinking that the day could only get worse. Earlier in my life, I may have been one of them. But, my perspective on these daily stressful hassles has changed in the past few years, probably due to the fact that this type of morning experience is not really all that unusual for me. I am one of the four in ten working mothers who reports leading a life that is characterized by rushing around, according to the Pew Research Center. I rush from school to work, appointment to appointment, work to community activities, and back home again.
So, how does one learn to better cope with mornings like this? I would have to say that I have become more flexible and realistic over the years about what is possible for me to actually do well. I have learned from many experiences over the years that I cannot do everything perfectly. I try to do the best I can and be happy nonetheless. By using time management skills, I try to prioritize what is important to me. For instance, this morning I could have driven fast to get my child to school on time. But our safety was more important to me, and so I took my time and we arrived safely, even if we were wet.
I have also learned to laugh at these situations as much as I can. After writing this blog, the whole morning seems quite amusing to me. At the time it was super stressful, but now it seems funny.
I have to say that this coping process is always ongoing, but most of the time I come to the conclusion that sometimes mornings like today cannot be avoided. The trick is to manage the way that you feel about them.
How do you do to cope with the unexpected?