Breakfast is a toast crust snatched between wrestling a dirty nappy and packing a wholesome lunch for the child who abhors vegetables.
In the shower you perform a Wigglesque improv for a disgruntled toddler and then rummage through the dirty washing for today's professional outfit.
Kids safely stowed at school or care, you reach the platform just in time to watch the train pull away. Sound familiar? Welcome to the great juggle of contemporary parenthood.
As Australian families return to routine after the summer, not everything is well on the home front. One in three parents report conflict between their work and family roles, according to research from the Judith Lumley Centre at La Trobe University.
Three aspects of parental work have the greatest impact on their children's development: parents' work hours, the quality of their jobs, and the ability to balance work and family demands, the report finds.
"Parents are constantly assessing how much time they need with their children, to do things that are important for them and their development, and how to meet work requirements," says the centre's Professor Jan Nicholson.
"This flows through into how parents interact with kids on a daily basis and can impact a children's social and emotional wellbeing."
Of particular concern is the increase in casualisation and unsociable hours (working outside of nine to five, Monday to Friday), because this is associated with more stress, poorer coping skills and greater anxiety and depression for both men and women, she says.
Some parents perform a near-Herculean balancing act to integrate work with family life.
Anna Malcolm lives in Wallan with her two boys, Max, 3, and Cameron, 2. Her partner Matt Curran is a diesel mechanic in the mining industry who currently works one fortnight on, one fortnight off.
She works three days a week in superannuation in the city (an almost two-hour commute each way), is studying a diploma online and has her own small business, a chemical-free cleaning range.
Her husband hates being away from the children but enjoys the uninterrupted time he spends with them in his weeks off, and there are financial advantages to his work, says Malcolm.
"There are good days and bad days. Sometimes I feel like I'm not doing anything well but there are other days where I manage to keep my focus, get goals done. I'm a lists person."
Like many parents, Malcolm tries to save time by cooking multiple meals ahead of time and packing bags the night before. She is also able to work from home one day a fortnight and her employer has been very flexible.
"I really think we need to go back to that village thing, get rid of the fear of strangers and embrace our neighbours. That way you can tag team caring for the kids and reduce costs, she says."
Because most Australians are employees before they become parents (about 80 per cent of women and 95 per cent of men), we often talk about work-life balance in relation to the transition to parenthood or the early years.
But work-life conflict is a problem that persists at least through primary school, although the types of challenges might change, says Professor Nicholson.
About 34 per cent of full-time Australian employees work extra hours or overtime. Men are more likely to do this than women; 38 per cent compared to 30 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And it has consequences for children.
Fathers' long hours (45-plus each week) when mothers also work, is associated with less time by adults reading to their children, La Trobe researchers found.
Employers need incentives to offer more flexible working conditions for men, say Nicholson: "When people seek flexibility we, as a society, need to make it clear it is not going to impact on careers."
The great juggle:
I went back to work when baby was four months. Meet my mum halfway in peak-hour traffic to pass daughter over for care. Sometimes I take her into the office. My partner studies full time and works nights so I don't get much backup.
Karen, South Yarra.
I'm a shift worker and student, my husband works full time. We tag team; I wait in the driveway [with] our daughter, hand her over and head to work. I'm home between midnight and 7am and up with our daughter by 7am. We save on childcare but I get drastically less sleep than I need.
My husband is works on the mines, and is away two weeks at a time. I work part-time in the city, almost two hours each way. Our boys do an extra day of creche so that I can work on my small business and study. We need to go back to the "village" model, with everyone helping out.