“Our Morning Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect, Just Good Enough”
Elizabeth Lombardo, 39Wexford, Pennsylvania
Married to Jeff, 47; mother of Kelly, 5; Grace, 3 (shown)
As a psychologist in private practice whose specialty is stress reduction, Elizabeth Lombardo has counseled lots of mothers about their hectic schedules. So when it came time to figure out her own family’s morning routine, she “was careful to set realistic expectations,” says Elizabeth. She wakes up around 5 a.m. on weekdays to ensure she has uninterrupted time to get work done on her laptop, shower, dress, and exercise. “That time helps me feel like I have a handle on my life,” she says. “Then, by the time Kelly and Grace wake up at 7 a.m., I can put my focus on them.”
Since her husband, Jeff, a sales executive, leaves for the office early, Elizabeth gets the girls out the door and to school on her own. She takes a breezy approach to dressing them: “If their shoes don’t match their clothes, fine with me. Toothpaste on their clothes? Well, at least they brushed their teeth.”
Breakfast options are quick, simple, and virtually no-cook. Translation: cereal, yogurt, or toast. “I don’t want to have to make anything extravagant in the morning. And if they have only a few choices, there’s no arguing about it,” she says. (Because the girls aren’t big eaters in the morning, Elizabeth reads to them during breakfast, promising to turn another page of Pinkalicious each time they take a bite.)
Afterward, Kelly and Grace are responsible for getting their lunch boxes out of the refrigerator (Elizabeth packs them the night before), putting last night’s pajamas in the laundry room, and taking their dishes to the sink. If they’re ready to leave the house on time, they can choose a reward for that afternoon: an episode of PBS Kids’ SuperWhy! or 20 minutes to play computer games.
Elizabeth deals with occasional meltdowns, which can set the routine back, “but I’m not striving for perfection,” she says, “so I don’t worry too much when things go wrong.” It’s part of her larger philosophy: “When there’s so much glass-half-empty stuff going on in the world, I remind myself to notice glass-half-full things. Oh, so the house is a mess? Hey, we have a house. I’m focused on maintaining a relaxed tone, since the girls will carry that feeling with them the rest of the day.”