Let's Talk About The Hellish Madness Of Parents' Morning Routines

If Reese Witherspoon finds it tough, what hope for the rest of us?

Reese Witherspoon isn’t someone I generally feel I have a lot in common with.

When she was delivering star-making performances in ‘Election’ and ‘Cruel Intentions’, I was doing completely averagely in my GCSEs. When she won an Oscar for ‘Walk The Line’, I was living in a house with 11 other people, eating microwave curries and failing to get off with anyone. But maybe she and I have more in common than I originally thought, judging from this Instagram post...

Oof. Yes. I have an easier deal than a lot of parents, yet getting myself and my offspring out of the house completely sucks – the mechanics of my wife, my toddler and I getting sufficiently ready for a day of work and nursery are like something out of a ‘Mission: Impossible’ film. And just like most of those films, they end with at least one of us really sweaty and knackered, a trail of destruction in our wake.

My daughter wakes up at 5.40am and we leave the house at 7.45am, yet somehow every minute second of that is filled. Every. Single. Second. I often work from home – commuting into town, working a full day and commuting home takes longer than a full day at nursery – yet I’m frequently late. Late to my own house. That takes some doing.

Between changing my daughter’s nappy, dressing her, cleaning her teeth, packing her bag for nursery, making coffee, wolfing down some toast, reading that really shit book about the bear yet again because she insists, trying to stop her flinging herself down the stairs, trying to stop her climbing in the shower with my wife whose cleaning routine is vastly more complicated and time-consuming than mine, coaxing her into her buggy and negotiating the buggy out of the hallway which it’s exactly the same width as – it’s a photo-finish.

Then it’s off to nursery to hand her over, livid now because she finished whatever I bribed her into the buggy with halfway there and wants more of it. That leaves just enough time to have the obligatory polite 30-second chat with whoever’s on the front desk, shove the buggy in the buggy park with no real care, and run home.

“My daughter wakes up at 5.40am and we leave the house at 7.45am, yet somehow every minute second of that is filled. Every. Single. Second."”

Not a nice run, of course. An “oh-shit-I’m-late” pegging, slaloming through wheeley bins out for collection, limboing under bits of scaffolding carried by unimpressed workmen, sweating through the winter coat that was so necessary moments before, and getting home just in time to catch my breath before jumping into a Skype work meeting. If we lived 200 metres further from nursery, I would definitely have thrown up in a meeting by now.

On the occasions I work in an office, I find myself sitting next to someone who’s had two and a half hours more sleep than me and a delightful morning where they actually achieved things. Me? I’m completely destroyed and I haven’t even done anything yet.

And remember I’ve only got one child who’s little – if/when we have another, Christ alive. I’m reliably informed that once children get old enough to be properly stubborn (and heavy enough that you can’t just chuck them over your shoulder, marching them to school in a fireman’s lift), it gets vastly harder. Climbing into the shower will be replaced with refusing to take a shower, or refusing to get out of bed, or just being a dick in that way so many 10-year-olds are.

If Reese Witherspoon, Hollywood millionaire actor/producer Reese Witherspoon – whose youngest child is six and oldest is nearing 20 (so presumably takes care of herself) – still finds it enough of an arse-ache that she’s posting Batman memes, what hope do we have?

Pushing my daughter out the door an hour before nursery opens and telling her to make her own way there feels like underwhelming parenting. The solution is probably just accepting that it’s hard – and that even if I somehow become an incredibly successful Hollywood megastar (deeply unlikely given my unwashed status), it’ll still be hard.

I might buy a Batman costume, though. Can’t hurt.