My undoing: the morning routine

***Note: If you are feeling fragile, this post might be triggering.  I talk about intrusive thoughts.***

I am linking up with Shell  at and pouring my heart out today.

I dread the morning routine.  My husband works from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., so I do the entire morning routine by myself.  This was my biggest struggle for months.  I was dreading how to do all of it even before Skeeter was born.  I would wake up, eat breakfast, pump, get myself ready, wake up Skeeter to nurse her, get her dressed, wake up Munch and help her get ready.  Then bundle us all up and drag all of our bags to the car. 

If anything threw off this routine, I could not cope.  This could be Skeeter waking up early or Munch refusing to get dressed.  I would end up yelling at my sweet girls.  I would then burst into tears.  Both Skeeter and Munch would follow suit, crying or screaming in fright.  I would end up sitting on the floor with my head in my hands after these outbursts of rage, crying and apologizing.  My poor Munch is so sensitive, and she hates being yelled at.  I wonder now if I did any lasting damage to her psyche.  She’s as sensitive as I am.  Now she bites her nails when she’s “nervous”.  I know the anxiety gene got passed down to her. 

We were always running late, and we would make it to daycare just in time for the girls to eat breakfast.  I was always flying in, talking a mile a minute, trying to disguise the fact that I was barely holding it together.  Munch’s teacher, Miss A., was wonderful.  I think she realized I was struggling.  She always had a kind word and a smile for me.  I would make it to the car before I would collapse, mentally and physically exhausted.  More often than not, I would be sweating from all the exertion and the anxiety.  When I get anxious, I sweat like crazy.  I would have to take off my coat. I would also be crying again, in relief that I had survived and in shame and guilt for how I had behaved.

Sometimes I would call my mom to complain about the morning.  Other times I would call my husband to berate him for throwing off my routine by doing one little thing like not pulling out the coats.  I was so irrational in my irritability that I could not identify why this upset me so.  Other times I would turn my music on and worry about car crashes.  I constantly worried about my lack of sleep and how easy it would be to just lose control and drift over that center line into the oncoming traffic.  I would never act on these thoughts, but they were there constantly.

After my recovery, I had a dear friend ask me if I suffered from intrusive thoughts.  I hesitated when she asked me and said no.  My brain had blocked out some of these horrible intrusive thoughts to protect me.  As I got stronger, I started to remember more about my darkest days and hours.  It wasn’t until Casey Mullins from asked for PPD and PPA survivors for confessions.  I realized that I had suffered from these thoughts.  I sat down and just cried at how lonely and terrified I felt at the time.  I did not even disclose this to my therapist or my husband when these thoughts were happening.  I stuffed them down.  I anonymously contributed to Casey’s article on babble –  I am referred to as Hannah W.  I am linking up with Shell for Pour Your Heart Out – Things I Can’t Say. 

Many thanks to Casey for helping me bring catharsis and closure to this and to sweet Frelle for starting the conversation that got me thinking about intrusive thoughts. 

If you are a mom who is suffering from intrusive thoughts, you are not alone.  This is common for women that struggle with postpartum mood disorders.  Please search or for local resources that will help you recover from your postpartum mood disorder.  If you are feeling suicidal, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. 


About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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19 Responses to My undoing: the morning routine

  1. postpartumandpigtails says:

    Thank you for sharing this. After having my daughter, I struggled with the intrusive thoughts for years before telling anyone . I eventually was diagnosed with OCD because they interfered with my life so badly but It’s always nice to know others have had these thoughts too.

    • Huge hugs for your struggle Andrea. I hate that this is so relatable to you as well. Thankfully the thooughts have gone away. The anxiety is still there, but it’s much more manageable. Some days the morning routine goes smoothly; other days it’s still a struggle.

  2. Jen,

    I’m so glad you shared this. The morning routine undoes me too now, especially with baby. We just finished the school year and that was hard enough—waking baby and feeding her, etc. before bringing girls to school. Summer camp starts next week (daily thing, not a sleep away camp) and it’s a 20 minute drive each way. I get very anxious about the baby and her being in the car for long periods and what if she is hungry and can’t wait and screams, etc. (school is much closer to our house and not as big of a deal)…

    I am anxious about everything and I HATE IT. I envision car crashes and such, too. I yell at my kids, then cry and apologize.

    I suppose I should also mention my doc just upped my meds. But i won’t notice anything for a few weeks, he warned.

    HUGS, mama. we’ll make it.

    • Erin,

      I hope that my sharing this helped you feel not so alone in this. I am already thinking about posting an update to how the morning routine is going now for me. I am hoping that the summer camp routine goes as smoothly as possible. A crying little one in the car is a huge trigger for me as well. It always made me want to pull over to the side of the road and do whatever was necessary to take care of it.

      My anxiety is now mostly at a manageable level, what my therapist calls “my low level buzz of anxiety”. I have had GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) for over a decade now. The PPA was worse for me because the symptoms manifested themselves differently. I was more fearful of my reactions to anxiety. Now my husband and I know my triggers, and I talk about it more openly. The more I talk about it, the better I feel. The thoughts seem not so scary once you talk or blog about them. It gives them less power.

      Huge hugs to you. We will make it. I hope the medication increase helps you.

  3. Cathy says:

    BTDT and I’m not so sure it means something is wrong with us in particular. I think it means we are human.

    • I agree that worry is a part of the human condition. My case this past year was at the extreme end where I had intrusive thoughts, panic attacks and just severe anxiety and insomnia all related to my postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Part of my healing journey has been to identify the particular triggers for my anxiety and depression and develop coping mechanisms.

  4. Love you so much for this. xoxo

  5. shellthings says:

    I hate the morning routine! So stressful.

  6. Lisa says:

    Uggghh the morning routine. I’ve never had my partner around for the morning shamozzle either but thankfully both kids are at school now so much more self-sufficient. If it helps for when your girls are older, we have a piece of A4 paper stuck up in the lounge room with a list of things they need to do in bright texta (I have two boys so keeping it brief and in colour helps them). I was still going mad at them, particularly the older one, for not getting ready at MY pace. A counsellor advised me to point them to the list – which they still use – and tell them that I’m walking out of the house at 8.40am in whatever state they’re in. They are ALWAYS ready. It’s just not at my pace and it may be a last minute rush for them but it works. I mean, who wants to go to school in their PJs or on an empty stomach?!

    Also, a big cheer for talking about your thoughts. The more people who share them, the better. Of course they’re not pleasant and we feel shame and we feel vulnerable for sharing them but that is courage. You are courageous for sharing your thoughts and that can only help others.

    • Lisa, thank you for the list idea. As soon as my oldest can read, I’m putting up a list. She is my poky one who does everything at her own pace.
      Thank you so much for thinking I am courageous. I felt like throwing up when I hit publish on the post. I reveal more of myself on my blog than I do to my friends. Only a handful of close friends and some of my family know about my PPD and PPA. I hope to keep telling my story little by little to help others realize that they are not alone.

  7. I’m so glad you found the strength to come forward – you write beautifully about your struggle.

    • Thank you so much for the compliment. Your comment got trapped in my spam settings, and I haven’t been able to blog as much due to work commitments. I am so glad that I asked for help and that I reached out. It was the best thing that I have ever done for myself and my family.

  8. Leighann says:

    I so needed to read this!
    Although I am better than I was, I’m not there yet. I have severe anxiety that is triggered by changes in routine and by not getting the help that I expect I should. My hubs leaves very early in the morning and doesn’t get home until late and when he does get home he just wants to relax or play with our daughter. This makes me resentful and exhausted.
    I’m so glad you wrote this. I thought that my behaviour was a natural response but I don’t think it is.

  9. Leighann says:

    I so needed to read this!
    Although I am better than I was, I\’m not there yet. I have severe anxiety that is triggered by changes in routine and by not getting the help that I expect I should. My hubs leaves very early in the morning and doesn\’t get home until late and when he does get home he just wants to relax or play with our daughter. This makes me resentful and exhausted.
    I\’m so glad you wrote this. I thought that my behaviour was a natural response but I don\’t think it is.

    • Huge hugs Leighann. I wish you couldn’t relate to this. I am the same way. I detest changing up the routine and so do my girls. So mornings continue to be a struggle for us. Slowly they are getting better. I just remind myself to take a step back and breathe. Actually my oldest gave that to me as a suggestion. We always listen to music in the car to help set the mood for the day. That helps a great deal to reset ourselves.

  10. Pingback: The Morning Routine Revisited | tranquilamama

  11. Pingback: The Morning Routine is Fun | Tranquila Mama

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