There are few things that will change your life more than having children. But there is literally nothing that will change your morning more than having children. I used to consider myself a morning person — someone who bounded out of bed with endless energy and joy for the early, buttery light and the smell of coffee. But that was before there was a baby screaming for me before my eyes even opened. That was before there was a 3-year-old pretending to be a cat and asking me for Lucky Charms before I'd even peed. That was before 9 a.m. became the "beginning" of everyone's work day and the midpoint of my own.
#Before9am is a Romper campaign highlighting all of the amazing things moms manage to do before that nine-bell chime hits. It's amazing how 9 a.m. used to feel like the start of the day but now, thanks to small children and packed lunches and careers and the opportunity to "have it all," most moms find themselves at 9 a.m. standing still for the first time since they opened their eyes at some other godforsaken hour. Nine a.m. is like breathing room. It's letting all of the air out of a very filled balloon and watching the balloon skyrocket across your house. It's the "start" of everyone else's day, but it's really just a moment of pause for millions of moms because there's still a heck of a lot more to do after 9 a.m.
Before 9 a.m. looks different for every mom, but all of the posts have a similar theme — we're really, really busy. In a study commissioned by Welch's Grape Fruit Juice, researchers found that the average working mom works 98 hours per week. That's totaling her duties in her job and all she does once she's home and can, you know, "relax," reported Good Housekeeping. In a world where emotional labor and divvying up household chores and "who's getting up with the baby tonight" are still conversations moms have with their partners (if they have one), it's no wonder most of us are feeling a little frazzled at the end of the day. Or, let's be honest, by lunch.
But it's not just working moms who have an outrageous morning schedule — stay-at-home moms are infinitely busy before 9 a.m. too. Forbes reported that a Salary.com survey found stay-at-home moms to be worth way more than hugs and kisses and peanut butter fingerprints. (You hear that, cutesy memes? WAY MORE WORTH IT.) In fact, if being a stay-at-home mom was a job that came with a paycheck, the survey found that moms would be earning around $115,000 a year while they work roughly 98 hours a week. (Oh is that all.)
Which means moms across the board are dealing with more than just your average before 9 a.m. duties like checking emails and taking a shower. They're dealing with diaper blowouts, with husbands deployed overseas and a time change that won't give her much wiggle room to talk after work. They're dealing with specific breakfast orders that they know their kid isn't going to eat. They're dealing with dishes and their own self-care and brushing toddler teeth and finding the day care folder — OMG WHERE IS THE DAY CARE FOLDER — and rehearsing their work presentation under their breath as they wait in the drop-off lane and eating a handful of grapes and leftover Goldfish crackers at 7:30 a.m. and looking for the Netflix remote because Sesame Street waits for no one.
The old proverb says it takes a village, and that's incredibly true. It takes a village to raise children, it takes a village to be the mom you want to be, and it takes a village to "have it all." When you see a super stylized Instagram post of someone's children sitting on the front steps with perfectly brushed pigtails or a mom's cup of brand-name coffee expertly filtered as her manicure shines in the background, it's easy to feel a stab of jealousy or envy. But what you aren't seeing are the amount of dishes she did at 6 a.m. or the way she had to beg her 3-year-old to stop crying so she could just brush her hair at 7:30 or the coffee pot that bit the dust at 9:15, making her late for work so she couldn't hit up the drive-thru for caffeine.
And that's why we want moms everywhere to share what they're doing #before9am. It's not hard — just snap a photo or make a list in the notes on your phone and tag #before9am on Instagram. I know, I know, one more thing to add to your task list ... but it's amazing how empowering it can be to see what your friends and family members and Instagram influencers who always seem to have it together are really dealing with before the rest of the world actually starts their day. We're all reheating coffee in the microwave, we're all begging children to wear clean underwear, and we're all exhausted by 9 a.m. Why? Because we're busy running the world.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.