Giving Up the Morning Hustle

When our five-year-old was ten-months old, we started a morning hustle. It involved packing snacks, extra clothes, enough diapers, and wipes to take with us to the drop-off nursery he attended three days a week. I didn’t know then that we were starting a morning hustle that we would continue for the next four years.

Last year in the fall, I can remember thinking as we were rushing around trying to find two pairs of shoes, lunch boxes, and backpacks, “This is a really stressful way to start the day.”

Little did I know that in just four short months, we would be in virtual schooling and our lives would look a lot different. When we moved to virtual schooling last March, there was still a lot of hustling involved in our mornings. There were Google Meets to attend and classwork to submit and a one-year-old to try to track down after the four-year-old had was sitting at his desk ready for his meeting.

I can remember thinking to myself, “This is a really stressful way to learn.”

Not knowing what the next school year held, we made the decision to homeschool both kids for the fall. Knowing that we would understand a lot more about the virus and safety precautions and even transmission among kids in the following six months. Slowly, slowly as we adopted a new lifestyle, we adapted.

As I sit here this morning, the two-year-old is still asleep, something she wouldn’t have been able to do if we were trying to do two school drop-offs, get two kids ready, get breakfast into mouths and shoes onto feet. The five-year-old is making LEGO creations and telling me about the dreams he had last night and the storm that passed through. I’m drinking a hot cup of coffee, something I often picked up in between one school and the other.

I think about next fall a lot. I think about whether we will be hustling by this time next year every morning. Just as there was a whisper within me that the morning hustle was something that started everyone off on a stressful note, there is a whisper within me that I don’t want to go back to those kinds of mornings.

I don’t want our kids to learn to hustle.

There is so much that the pandemic has revealed about our culture and our patterns. The pandemic has revealed the hustle that we are all engaging in everyday, even our kids. We are constantly moving from one thing to the next and trying to talk our way through how to teach kids to “transition well” and “transition smoothly” without ever asking why we are asking kids to learn these things. “Because we have to as adults,” is often the response.

But what if that changed? What if instead of rushing kids from one thing to another, we let them follow their instincts and their interests until they were naturally ready to move on to something else. What if instead of soccer on Tuesdays and piano lessons on Thursdays, we actually gave them voice and choice in where their interests were that day.

I wonder if these pandemic kids are learning more about flexibility and adaptability as they seamlessly transition from in-person school, to virtual school, to masked outdoor activities than we perhaps ever will know. The world is changing around them and they are taking it all in stride learning and changing and growing right in front of us.