The Playroom: A perfect morning

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

A friend recently asked me for advice on how to manage mornings better. Evidently in her house, mornings were stressful, with much yelling and nagging and conflict. I responded politely, telling her that although I sympathized with her plight, I had no good advice to offer since mornings in our house run so smoothly.

My children leap out of bed at 6:30, immediately make their beds without being asked and then patiently wait to take turns using the bathroom. They get dressed by themselves without any direction from me, and they never get distracted by the toys that are never on the floor of their room.

My son always wears an undershirt, and my daughters always find clean socks. They brush their teeth, brush their hair and skip cheerfully down the stairs so they can study their spelling words before breakfast.

During breakfast they don’t spill their milk or talk with food in their mouths or push their little sister off her chair just because they think it’s funny. They don’t cry over the color of their sippy cup or moan for sugared cereals. They eat their oatmeal and never say things like, “I don’t like oatmeal. Why did you make this, it looks like barf with raisins in it?”

They certainly don’t have conversations about barf and what barf looks like and all the different kinds of barf, if a zombie can barf and if a zombie barfs do zombies barf up brains, the meaning of the word vomit and if vomit is different than barf or if they are the same thing.

After breakfast they ask to be excused, clear the table, help with the dishes and then offer to feed the dog. They don’t slosh through the dog’s water bowl or edit their lunches and demand more “fun stuff.” They don’t tell me my teeth are getting yellow and my hair is getting gray, and they certainly never ask why I have to drink so much coffee.

They do ask where I’ve put their rain boots because they would much rather wear their boots than get their school shoes wet and muddy, and they do not care in the least when I can’t find the Hello Kitty umbrella and then they help each other with remembering lunch boxes and backpacks.

Since they packed up their backpacks with all the appropriate permission slips and fund-raising forms as well as their books and homework the night before, there is no mad rush around the house at the last minute trying to scrounge up the eight dollars for the field trip fee only to end up taking it out of their little sister’s piggy bank while she’s on the toilet.

I can always find my car keys, we treat each other with respect, we don’t fight or call each other names and I never have to say such things such as, “Stop it, stop it, stop it, give me the stupid light saber.” The dog even ignores the cat, and we always leave the house promptly at 8.

And when my 4-year-old asks gently from the back seat, “Mommy, why did you yell at Daddy?” I have no idea what she’s talking about.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. Her website is Email her at