Sooooooo, How'd It Goooooo?

Your Comprehensive Guide To Mornings With A 3.5 Year Old

First, it's a good thing three-and-a-half-year-olds aren't that big, because you will probably need to physically pull him out of bed. He will look like an adorable, sleepy cherub, and may even fold himself up into a tiny ball on your lap while he fights the waking-up process. 

Take a minute to enjoy it, because it's all downhill from here.

Once the three-and-a-half-year-old is semi-halfway-awake, he will start whining about something: The fact that his Cheerios are not yet in his mouth, that he can't find the book he deliberately kicked under the bed last night, that you are SO GOING to bring him the wrong pair of underpants, HE JUST KNOWS IT ALREADY, etc.

Pro Tip: You will indeed bring him the wrong pair of underpants, this is true. You are a negligent monster and the absolute worst.  

Once you have peeled his pajamas off and poured him into his clothes like a blob of limp-yet-resistant pasta — and navigated the treacherous Sock Drawer Of I Don't Like Those Socks, I Want The Imaginary Red Socks That I Do Not Own — it's time to make the first transition of the morning into the bathroom for potty and teeth-brushing. This will go about as well as expected, i.e. migraine-inducing. 

"Uppy!" he will wail at the top of the stairs, with arms raised in your direction. What, you expected him to walk down the stairs by himself? Why, that barely puts anyone at risk of falling down the stairs and breaking a hip AT ALL! Why would we do that? 

Pro Tip: Some mornings he will happily walk down the stairs unassisted. This step will only be added if you already have something in your arms, like the baby or a laundry basket or a large assortment of books and toys that he absolutely refused to emerge from his room without.

And now, it's the Breakfast Gauntlet. He wants the dark blue bowl, not the green one. But only if there is a dark blue spoon. Otherwise, he'll take the orange. He does not want milk in his Cheerios. If there are pancakes, he'd like a waffle. If there are waffles, he'd like pancakes. If there are pancakes and waffles, he'll take a scrambled egg.

Why did you put the milk away? He wants milk in his Cheerios. He will pronounce it "Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerioooooooos," adding an infinite number of syllables.

Noah kicked him. Noah hurt him. Noah took his toy. Noah looked at his dark blue spoon. Etc.

He would like a banana-na. He would like to make a pretend phone call to Grandma and Grandpa on the banana-na. Then he will hang up the banana-na. On the floor. 

It's time to put shoes on. Yeah. Like that's happening.

It's time to go to the bus stop. Anyone who doesn't have his shoes on (ahem) right this second needs to stay in the house with Daddy and Baby Ike and finish his goddamn Cheeeeeeeeerioooooos. 

He will decide he desperately wants to go to the bus stop. He will attempt to convince you to take him to the bus stop by hurling his body on the floor and kicking in the vague direction of his shoes, which he is still not putting on. You will ignore him and walk out the door anyway, smiling cheerfully at your fellow bus-stoppers walking down the sidewalk who can totally hear your three-and-a-half-year-old screaming in righteous, pissed-off fury just inside your house.

Pro Tip: You are probably going to get reported to CPS someday, unless you bake a lot of cookies and give them tomatoes from your garden. Or both. Do both. 

When you return from the bus stop, he will be officially Over It, and pretty much anti-leaving-the-house-ever. His shoes will not be on and he will be happily mid-construction on a Lego creation that nooooooooooooo he can't leeeeeeave he never ever! He just NEVER

Pro Tip: He will never finish that sentence. "Always" and "never" are a three-and-a-half-year-old's favorite forms of hyperbole, and he sees no reason to supply a verb to his adverbs. You know what he's trying to say, and that it's you are a negligent monster, the absolute worst, and a big fat meanypants.

Because you are still bigger than him, you will get his shoes on, even if it involves shoving them on upside-down and at an angle while he hides under the dining room table. He will show his gratitude for your Tetris-like skills by shifting the focus of his rage to his coat, which he does not want to wear. 

You know what? Let him walk the 20 feet or whatever to the car without his damn coat. You've earned it. Treat yourself. 

He will of course be demanding his coat after 10 feet. He will also demand that you drive Daddy's car, because Daddy's car is currently considered "more fun" even though your car has a damn DVD player in it, not that you ever let him watch it. (See: monster, negligent; worst, the absolute.) You will pick him up and put him in your car, once again treating the neighborhood to the sounds of a child being literally skinned alive.

On the way to school, everything will change. He will be his usual, charming self. He will talk to you about trees and cars and ask complicated questions about the United States Postal Service. He will wave to his big brother's school and tell you that Noah is his best friend. And Daddy is his best friend. And you are his best friend. 

Once you arrive at school, you will be more than his best friend. You will be his Mommy, his love, his entire life, and leaving your cherished presence is pretty much the worst thing since not getting the dark blue spoon. Note that this is only because there is a full line of cars and witnesses at the curb-side drop-off this morning. His usual bounding enthusiastic skip-hop to the front door has been replaced with a second-act tantrum over wearing his coat, which he has pulled off and thrown on the sidewalk.

Pro Tip: Who cares! You're in a car! You're watching this scene in the rearview mirror! Just keep driving. He'll be fine once he gets inside. Or not! Either way, he's their problem now. Mwa ha ha ha ha oh my god.


(The three-and-a-half-year-old in his natural habitat, scoring free food from easily-charmed vendors at the farmers' market. DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE, YOU GUYS.)



Spot on. By the way, the terrible twos are nothing compared to the F you fours, which seem to have started early at your house.


*checks field guide* Ahem, I think you have a typo here. This appears to be the field guide for 2.5-year-olds.

Or maybe it's just an Everything's Bigger in Texas problem (i.e. the 2yo thinks she is 3).

We don't go to preschool but that, there... pretty much yeah.




Yeah, I have one of these. Pretty much the same drill at our house.


Hmmm, didn't know you borrowed my child for this post. Lucky for me no preschool yet and the babysitter (who I love, cherish, and obey) takes him happily in pj's, so that makes mornings slightly easier, but she can blame the wrong underwear on mom who is not there!


YES YES YES!!! Spot on. Hilarious.

Mrs. Commoner

Oh. My. God. You are totally talking about my youngest. He will be 4 on June 1st. Everything you wrote is identical to my mornings up until you get to leave him screaming on the floor while you take Noah to the bus stop. At that point I have to threaten and do the tetris maneuvers to get his shoes on and force him into the car so I can take them both to daycare. I thought it was only my kid. My oldest never did this. Yay! Someone else is going through my hell! Lol.


Oddly enough, this appies to two and a half year olds too. Or so I've heard. Ahem.


We go through this with my not-quite-2-year-old. I'm dreading him really being 2. Or 2.5 with an infant.


Yes, yes, this is very accurate... wish I'd have read this when my now 12 year old was 3.5. Hang in there momma, this too shall pass. Terrible twos are a piece of cake comparred to threes. (At least that's how it was for both of my kids.)


You just described every morning with my almost 3 year old. On one hand, I feel better that it's not just us. On the other, I'm frightened that this will continue for so much longer.... I guess I better buy more of the preferred underpants (if only I could figure out which ones they were!).


My 6-year-old daughter told my husband awhile ago that she wasn't happy with her life because she wasn't getting enough sleep. And we have had endless discussions (fights) over pants/leggings/what's the difference/oh I'll tell you what the difference is MOM don't get me started. Mornings are fun.


OMG, how did you just PERFECTLY describe every morning with my 3-year old? DOWN TO THE COAT, although sometimes it's shoes. Last week I just let him wear his pajamas to school, because it wasn't worth the fight, and how are they that different from his regular clothes anyway?


I laughed so much, I almost peed in MY PANTS!! My little guy is only 13 months...and he's already starting to have very definite OPINIONS! I could be in for an early starter!

This was a great post! Seriously, where's the button to recommend to Google?


Just so you know this applies to 4 1/2 year olds too! This could be my daughter! Her major meltdown is usually about daddy taking her to school. She wants MOMMY to take her. Well too bad Daddy is driving right by your preschool so you are going with him whether you want to or not. Some mornings they can't get out the door fast enough for me!


Thank you! You just validated my very own daughter. She isn't abnormal! Woot! BTW...she's four and a half now. When, exactly, does this end?


ha! just read the above comment. glad to know another four and half year old is still in this stage...


Thank God, it's not just my child. The coup de gras is when we get to the front of car line ( yes, his preschool has a car line) and his teachers have to peel him from his car seat while I sit all buckled in and helpless in the driver's seat. I simultaneously coo at him and shoot him dirty looks to transplant the screaming from my car to his classroom. Word has it he's a joy once they drag him inside.


This makes me feel so normal.


Should I be nervous? Because this is pretty much my two year old, already. We're currently going diaperless with the potty in the living room. Not because I had planned on potty training today or anything. Just because getting a diaper on him (truthfully, any clothes) seemed like too much work.



i love how this takes out the period so that it's 'mornings with a 35 year old'. now i'm picturing this whole process with a grown man. awesome.


Feeling grateful that mornings with my 3 yr old only include the "uppy" (which I have been trying to end for several months now since I am very PREGNANT! But, if I don't pick her up she wraps herself around my legs and/or stands in one spot and cries forever.) I think giving her food and an episode of Micky Mouse before attempting anything else helps.


Yes! That was my daughter, to a tee. We didn't have the Terrible Twos, or the Threatening Threes, we had the Fucking Fours, and what you just described was spot on. She had a melt-down while on vacation, in a condo, and so I had to put her in the car and drive around while she screamed at the top of her lungs for 20 minutes. I'm sure the people who saw us were shocked to see me singing along with the very loud radio while my daughter wailed in the back. Thankfully, it only lasted about 6 months, and then disappeared, just as suddenly as it had come. But, boy, those were a looooooooonnnnngggg 6 months.

(And, I'm giggling at kelly's comment about mornings with a 35 year old. That would probably be my husband's description of dealing with ME in the morning!)


Yay! My boys (4 & 2.5 yrs old) are normal!!


Don't tell anyone, but this actually sounds like my FORTY-FOUR-YEAR-OLD-HUSBAND. Hmm.


Except for the fact that my 3 year old wakes up at 6 am like he's been shot out of a cannon, this is us too (we just skip the drag him out of bed step). Thank you for letting me know it's not just my kid or may bad parenting because the histrionics some days are Also, this?: "On the way to school, everything will change. He will be his usual, charming self." Yes! wtf, kid?


Love this. I just sent it to my husband because he is constantly looking at me, like "why?" when our almost 3.5 year old pulls one of these stunts. Just want to let him know that it really is about the boy, and not about us :)

mommy to 2 blessings

OMG. It's like you live in my house.


So you're saying the only thing better than 3 boys is 4 boys? I've only got one daughter and she just got her first tooth! Can't crawl, just looks totally cute. I'm sure she'll be a terror at 13 more than at 3.5 but totally cute right now!


Never fear, my 9-year-old still has mornings like this!


I'm not sure how you got into my house, or why you decided to document my daughter and I as we get ready for preschool, but feel free to do the dishes on your way out next time.


When my oldest was four, I had an early doctor's appointment, so my husband had to get her ready and take her to preschool for the first time ever. When we met later in the morning, his first question was, "You do that EVERY MORNING???"


OMG, this is so my morning, though my 3yo is the oldest. Wrong underwear, cup, bowl, hair style, hair band color. Wrong dolly.

Nice to know it lasts longer. Sigh. I was hoping she'd be over it by 3.5 :(


Have you ever had to pin a small boy's head to the wall with your forearm to wash his damn face already?! No? Just me?


My youngest is now five and we're past some of this craziness and on to a new kind of craziness, but this whole post made me tired just remembering all of that.


Yes. Exactly. And I am the bestest/meanest mommy EVER. And he loves/hates me soooooo much.


My 3.5 year-old is pretty much the opposite. She wakes up at 6:30 (if I'm lucky), immediately gets dressed, knows what she wants to eat, what she wants for a snack and starts asking at about 7:00 (we leave at 8:15) when we can leave for school. Sometimes she'll even get in the car, even though we aren't leaving for another 45 minutes (can I leave her in there? Pleeeeeeaaaaase!). Then we get to school and she has to kiss me 5 times and then she's fine. Until I pick her up. Then she's just tired.


Amen. So glad mine is 10.


Oh. Wait. No I'm not.


Don't forget the melting puddle of despair on the floor an the mere mention of having to go Potty. "do NOT TALK to ME!" Hand up for emphasis. And the obligatory ear piercing glass shattering scream when an older sibling or dog passes through the air in his presence. Followed by smushy faces kisses and hugs at preschool drop off. Saving himself from being permanently dropped off once again.

Annie Vandehey

I'd like to say it gets better... But 1. You know that's BS and 2. You just described me trying to get my 5 yr old daughter anywhere. And people get mad at me when I call her bi-polar!!! Let them try it. :)
Signed, the worst mommy ever who can't come up with an entire pink outfit out of hammer space AND put it on for her .... :)


Don't care. La La La. I will gladly take this mess over the 1.5 yo who insists on waking up before dawn every morning. Blaaarrgggzzzzzz.


Thank you for describing my mornings to a tee! (And making me feel a bit less crazy)


OMG, all of this. And the CPS line!! I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks this. Like sometimes I witness the tantrums/fights from the other side of the house (I have baby duty, dad has toddler duty) and I think, ohmygoooodgod, the neighbors will call the cops. This sounds really bad. Because things are being thrown against the walls (by the toddler), followed quickly by crazy screams (by the toddler who now desperately wants the thing she just threw). And sometimes it is 3am. And then all I can think is once this settles down and she gets back to sleep I will surely hear a super loud knock on the door and a, "it's the cops, open up!" and then everyone will wake up screaming and I won't even know which is worse, having to explain what did/didn't happen, or having to get everyone settled down and asleep again. oh, that is my nightmare. I want to rock back and forth in the fetal position just imagining it.


Yes - am very familiar with this breed of child... so fun! Also, in the photo, his shadow looks like a poodle's head. I like it.


*SIGH* I am in the same boat you are. My daughter & Ezra are 2 weeks apart in age & I swear you were looking in my window this morning. Its no wonder momma gets excited when my husband & I get a babysitter so we can go out.


YES. This is why we never leave the house in the mornings!! I am dreading preschool wake-ups next year, but then again, he won't be my problem after that!


Oh, thank you thank you fellow mamma. You've reminded me that I am not the only one out there! I'm quite sure that, if my 3.5 yo tells me once more that whatever I've just prepared for him to eat is "yuuuccky!" even before he is in the kitchen to see what it is, I'll run for the hills! Let's meet there, shall we?!

birdgal (another amy)

I ALWAYS pick the wrong underwear--what is up with that? And the stairs thing! Why, when he probably walks down by himself 9 times out of 10, does he demand to be carried down the stairs on the morning you're late for work? Signed, another harried parent of a demon spawn, uh, 3.5 year old.


a more accurate piece of prose has never been written. every part. thank you for this.


Perfect. Every single part. (except the part where this is all too familiar.)


My daughter turns five on Sunday and this was our morning today. Thanks for the laugh and letting me know that I'm not alone :)


My twin boys are 3 1/4 y old.
SO looking forward to september when I can dump them on someone else for a few hours every day!


Thank goodness someone else is living my life. Mine'll be four in June and I know I have no idea what I'm in for.


So happy to know that it isn't just my 3 1/2 year olds! It is nice to know I am not suffering on my own!


How absolutely, positively correct this is. The banana-nas are always hung up on the floor, duh. And WHY? WHY do I always get the wrong underwear? Didn't he just ask for Buzz Lightyear? No? He said dinosaur? Are you sure? When the hell did Diego come into play THOSE AREN'T CLEAN GET THEM OFF OF YOUR HEAD


Oh my Lord! I have never laughed so hard! You pretty much described a typical day at my house:) LOL!
Do not feed the wildlife!! LOL!!


Dear god, the wrong underwear... every.damn.morning. And what about the mutherfucking teeth brushing!!!


I don't want to make any of you guys hyperventilate or anything, but this routine hasn't really changed all that much with my just-turned-8-year-old. I mean, she doesn't scream at school any more, but the rest is pretty much the same...


OMG you preach the truth! Mine is now 12 yrs old but oh do I remember. Love this: "You know what? Let him walk the 20 feet or whatever to the car without his damn coat. You've earned it. Treat yourself." LOL


Can you feed it first? Like: roll out of bed, pee, feed. I was considering mailing my 3.5 year old to Quebec with some cereal bars and bottled water every morning until I reversed the order of our routine. Now he gets up, is asked to pee (he declines graciously , read: screechingly) then we head to the kitchen, halfway there he realizes he has to pee.
At any rate, breakfast is eaten in pjs, unwashed, teeth unbrushed, pants fucking optional. We still go around the pancakes/waffles/cereal/toast/ for-the-love-of-god-you-can't-have-Easter-candy-for-breakfast carousel, but once food is in the system the rest of the morning goes more smoothly.
Also, and this is just rubbing it in, we live in FL so I just have him walk to the car barefoot and then when we get to school, while he is still tied down and up at counter height (aka in his carseat) I strap those puppies on lickety split. Awesome!


I have 3-yr old twin boys and yes to all of this (except wake-up, they are bouncy early risers). Especially the selection of socks in the morning...

My daughter is 6 now so I know it gets better, I just have to keep reminding myself.


My just turned four year old, exactly. Except that mine wakes ME up every morning before the butt crack of dawn and has since birth. Oh, to have to peel him out of bed- a dream come true!
But seriously with the underpants and socks.


Ha! What about the running away? Dear lord.THE RUNNING.


I'm scared! I have a 2.75 yr old and he does all that stuff already. (Plus as of this week, "why?" "why?" "why?" "why?" "why?")


I can't get my 3.5 year old to stay in bed past 7, but I bet it's because we don't have anywhere to go. If I enrolled him in preschool, guaranteed he'd start sleeping in.


"Or not! Either way, he's their problem now." I LOVE THIS! I may or may not have snorted out loud (I totally did).


Just to warn you, you pretty much described morning with a ten year old. Sorry.


Oh god. I so remember this. The screaming fits because the maple syrup was not poured into every. single. one. of. the. waffles. divots. (or whatever-the-hell-they're called). The screaming "get in the car NOW!" so the entire neighborhood could hear. The forcible buckling, the screaming, the tears... ah.


(A) Preach it sister!! Isn't it nice to know we are not alone.


(B) We totally owned that striped shirt Ezra has on in the photo at the end. :)


Buuuuutttttt, I forgottttttt how to put my paaaaaaaaaaaants on!

We're 3.75 and going strong with the morning tantrum/whinefest too :( The twos were no problem in our house, but 3 has been, shall we say, challenging. I've heard 4 is so much better! Don't burst my bubble, please!


Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, yes. OMG. My Malcolm and your Ez are clearly two peas in a pod, maybe we can just let the farmers market folks borrow them for a year or two? They seem to love him so...

And he's just past 3, and my oldest - I JUST found out I'm pregnant with my third. Yikes!


Jesus H....that is my life. Especially the uppy at the top of the stairs or the walking when my hands are full of crap. So hilarious....


I especially enjoy dressing my four year old when he whips off his pj top, screams, "I'm Fei Long!" (from Streetfighter...thanks Dad, solid parenting there, by the way) and then I have to chase him all over the house.

And the kid has the gall to ask, "Mama, why do you yell so much?"


Oh thank god it is not just my child. Also, I have to stop myself running out of nursery once I have dropped him off sometimes as it would look bad but yes, that's it. It is someone else's problem for a while and I can head home to rock in the corner for a while or something.

I do love the stuff he comes out with at this age though, which is the reason I only make it through a whole day some times.

Plano Mom

BWAAAAAA HAAAAa HAAAAA! Mine is 13! Mine is 13!

Oh wait... he's still that way, only he uses better curse words.


Another Pro Tip: Bailey's in a.m. coffee


Aaaaaaaand I think my tubes just tied themselves. :) I guess this is why children are so stinking cute—those adorable little faces make it too hard to just leave them on a street corner.


And this would be why we did afternoon preschool. And why we are doing morning preschool now (can you say, "practicing for kindergarten?")Ugh,ugh ugh.


THANK GOD there are others out there who live my life to a 't'. I have an 8 year old and a 4 year old (who will be 5 in July) and I dread mornings and evenings. My quiet time..when I work from home (M-F) and everyone including Dad LEAVES MY EVERY F*CKING LOVING HOUSE. The quiet..the sanctuary..the bliss. I tossed said 8 year old on the back patio this morning with his shoes as he was throwing lego's around the toy room after I asked him to take his blanket back upstairs. OMG Just go get on your bike and GOOOOOOOO!!!!!! LOL


Having had two of these myself, I can say quite enthusiastically that you have captured it exactly. In winter, add on more act to the play, which involves wrestling a small octopus Who Definitely Does NOT Have To Pee into snowpants, boots, coat, hat, mittens. Whereupon he/she will immediately need to pee.


Oh, PUH-lease. Surely you jest! He is a doll.

Also, they are a lot less adorable when they are 13 and still pulling that same crap. Trust me. YUCK.


The little bugger is fourteen, and he STILL won't wear a coat! I guess it's not cool, or something. Oh, no, why should he wear a coat in twenty degree weather when I can rearrange my whole damn schedule to DRIVE him the two blocks to school? Yeah, not happening. Just think how cool you'll look, son, strolling into Home Room with blue lips and chattering teeth.


Yea, even unto the teen years, they are the same. I nearly fell dead the first time my 19.5 year old actually thanked me for waking him in time to go to work, after many years of screaming back at me and suggesting, on one occasion, that I have sexual intercourse with myself.

But I find it hard to believe all this about Ezra. He's the cutest kid EVER and surely he's not the person you're talking about in this post.


Ohhhhh Ezra. <3


this is awesome. even more so if you are the mother of a 3-year-old boy.


Oh wow. I have a 1 yo, and after reading this I will only buy her identical underwear from now on. At least I will have the problem of the "wrong underwear" solved when she is 3.


How perfectly you described my life... how did you know??!!
But OMG how much we love them :-)
My youngest who is now 6, stills covers me mwith kisses - on my hands, arms, face, neck... any available body part - when I leave him at preschool in the mornings. As I tear myself away every morning my heart is also bursting a little. Becase one day it'll end and I'll miss these morning rituals more than I can bear.
I want to tell you that they go through all sorts of revoltingness as teenagers, and you'll love them still although the cuteness factor will seem to have died a total death.. and then they come out the other side as these wonderful, interesting, lovely people. My eldest is 22 now and every step along the way has been so worthwhile.

Tina C.


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