Why (and How) You Should Wake Up Before Your Kids
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As busy moms, our lives tend to revolve around everyone else’s needs and schedules.
Once upon a time, when my older twins were still infants, I figured out that, if I wanted to have an uninterrupted shower every day, I was going to have to get that handled before my husband left for work so that he could get the babies from their cribs if they woke up while I was in the shower. Which also meant waking up before my husband so that I didn’t interfere with his getting-ready time. Over the years, this has evolved. It shifted from just a shower to a shower AND hot coffee, and now, 10 years later, it’s shower, hot coffee, relaxation, and blogging.
Early on in my parenting career, I learned that if I wanted any time to myself, time that I could have consistently, I was going to have to steal it from myself. So I did. And the results have been life-changing – literally.
Before I share the whys and hows of my choice to wake up before my kids, I want to add a caveat: Learning to wake up early and get into a groove was a process. It’s a great goal, but a lofty one, and it shouldn’t feel like an insurmountable task or “one more thing” that you need to do. Motherhood is hard enough, and this is NOT the only way to do things. Nobody should feel like waking up early is the ONLY way to get quiet time. I acknowledge that different things work for different people.
But I also know that waking up to noisy, demanding kids who need to be fed right. this. second. can be the worst way to start the day. Even if you only wake up 15 minutes before your kids and spend the time simply enjoying the stillness and quiet of the early morning, you’ll feel so much more ahead of the day.
Besides, you never know if you don’t try!
WHY Should I Wake Up Before My Kids?
1. Having “me time” is beneficial to being a great mom.
As moms, we endlessly serve our families. Most of the time, however, we forget that we can’t pour water from an empty cup. During my morning time, I have no one else to focus on. This time is essential for me to fill my own cup first so that I can pour into others all day long. Moms are the thermostats of the household – how YOU start your day will determine how the day goes for your entire family. Will it be calm, peaceful, and unhurried? Or will it be rushed, chaotic, and short-tempered?
Waking up early makes a HUGE difference in how I interact with my kids. It’s shocking, actually, how much differently the day goes if I sleep late and don’t get a shower and some quiet coffee time before my monsters get up.
2. Easing into the day increases the likelihood of a productive day.
If you really want to get through that to-do list, wake up early!
Here’s the funny thing – I don’t even get started on my to-do list until the kids are up. I use my solo mornings to work on the blog or just relax and get my head on straight. But for whatever reason, when I get up in the morning, I’m less likely to sit on my butt once the kids are up – I’m able to get moving on the rest of my morning routine right away. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason what this is the way it is, but I don’t know it. All I know is that it works!
3. It’s peaceful and quiet.
With four kids at home 24/7 (we homeschool!), peace and quiet is hard to come by. I NEED quiet time to myself in order to stay sane. If you’re like me and need quiet time too, the early mornings are the perfect time to get it!
4. You can get stuff done with no distractions.
It’s so frustrating to be interrupted every time you starting working on something. Whether it’s cleaning, blogging, or making phone calls, it’s like my kids have a radar – “Oh, look! Mom’s doing something productive! We’d better go and nip that in the bud immediately!” Take care of some of your tasks in the morning, however, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can check things off of that to-do list.
5. It starts your day intentionally.
When you wait until your kids get up to drag yourself out of bed, you’re automatically starting your day in reactive mode. You’re reacting to the things going on around you rather than intentionally choosing what you need (or want) to do. In other words, you’re putting out fires starting from the moment your feet hit the floor.
By waking up a little earlier, you can start your day proactively and intentionally. YOU get to choose what time you’ll wake up, what you’ll get done, and how your morning will go. When you start your day with intention, it’s up to you!
6. Enjoy quality time with your kids.
No matter your family situation, whether you work inside or outside of the home, whether you homeschool your kids or not, it’s really easy for mornings to become rushed and out of control. When you get up early, start the day intentionally, and get some housework, lunch-making, and bag-packing out of the way, you can enjoy a more peaceful and relaxed morning with your family. Everything is ready to go, you aren’t trying to do a million things at once, and you get to sit down and enjoy breakfast and conversation with your family.
Also, in the evenings, because I’m not in as much of a hurry to get the kids to bed so I can have my downtime, I’m more likely to want to play a board game with them or read to them a little bit longer before bed!
7. You come to know you’re loved – by YOU.
As busy women, we’re giving and serving and doing for others every moment of the day. Beyond that, there are the constant feelings of guilt, overwhelm, and not being good enough. We’re often left completely drained at the end of the day, feeling unappreciated and taken for granted.
With all of those negative feelings that we have, we forget that we’re humans too, not just moms. When you decide to put yourself first, waking up before the kids, something crazy happens. In this small sacrifice, you remember that YOU matter. YOU, as a person who’s not mom, are still here.
And when you realize this self-love, you start thinking differently, which, in turn, makes you act differently. You take better care of yourself, you treat your husband and kids better, and you start remembering all of those goals and dreams you once had.
And now that you’re getting up for some solo time in the mornings… You’ll be able to make some time for those goals and dreams again.
That All Sounds Great, But HOW Do I Wake Up Before My Kids?
1. Go to bed earlier.
It’s a lot easier to get up in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Physically getting into bed earlier is a great first step. Try winding down, either before you get into bed or while you’re lying in bed. No screens!
I like to get into bed around 9 p.m. and read for a while. Ideally, I’ll be sleeping before 10 p.m. so that I can get up at 5 a.m.! Other ways to wind down at night can be a hot bath, tea, or meditation.
2. Start small.
If you’re an over-achiever, you may be tempted to set that alarm back at least a couple of hours. DON’T DO IT.
Roll back your clock by 15 or 30 minutes to start – and definitely not more than an hour – even if you feel like you’re ready. Shocking your body into an extremely early wake-up time can cause your body to completely reject this new idea, and we don’t want that to interfere with your new goal!
Start small, and as your bedtime gets a bit earlier and your body starts to adjust to the earlier mornings, THEN make adjustments.
3. Give yourself something to look forward to.
A crying baby or demanding child is NOT the most positive way to start your day. Instead, think of something that you’re excited to wake up to. It can be as simple as a delicious cup of coffee or a quick meditation to clear your mind before the chaos of the day begins.
I’m 10 years in to this waking-up-early thing, and I still go to bed most nights looking forward to my morning coffee and solitude!
4. Prepare the night before.
Set out your clothes and get the coffee ready the night before. Even go so far as to pull your mug out of the cupboard and set it next to the coffeemaker. You likely won’t have the brainpower to make a bunch of decisions right when you wake up so early in the morning. Also, know ahead of time what you plan to do with your time. For me, making that decision in the morning causes analysis paralysis, which leads to scrolling social media, which means that I’m not refreshed by or productive with my morning time.
By preparing in advance, you’re already a step ahead!
5. Do something you enjoy early.
Don’t make plans to get a head start on the housecleaning (unless, of course, that’s the kind of thing that makes you happy). Think of something that you LOVE doing, and let that be your motivation for getting out of bed. I want to blog, read, or listen to a podcast in the silence while drinking my hot coffee – I don’t want to waste this time cleaning!
These peaceful early morning hours are PERFECT for working toward your goals. It’s a heck of a lot easier to achieve your goals if you make time for them. Spending some of your morning time on those goals will give you consistent forward progress! Bonus: You can check this work off of your list for the day if you accomplish it first thing in the morning!
6. Don’t think. Just do.
Don’t let yourself think about how warm and cozy your bed is or how you really, really don’t want to get up this morning. Just get up! You can do it! The easiest way to do this is to either get dressed and out the door or get in the shower immediately after your feet hit the floor.
If you allow your brain to talk you out of getting up early, you’ll never do it. Don’t make getting back in bed an option.
7. Reward yourself.
At this point in my life, waking up early is a reward in itself. At first it seemed hard, but over the years, it’s turned into something that I truly look forward to doing every day.
In the beginning, however, you may want some sort of external reward. Set a goal (the amount of time is up to you – one week? one month?), and give yourself a treat when you complete it. It can be something that is related to your new and improved mornings – a new coffee mug or book, fancy coffee creamer or tea. Or it can be something completely unrelated, like a pedicure or a new shirt. Whatever it is, choose a reward that makes you happy!
What Should I Do With My Time?
You should do whatever makes you happy and fulfilled! Here are some recommendations to get you started:
- Make your bed: Start your day with an easy win.
- Read: Read whatever makes you happy – that novel you can’t put down, parenting or self-help books, the Bible…
- Exercise: Getting your workout done first thing will give you a blast of endorphins, energy, and a serious sense of accomplishment – plus you won’t be able to find any excuses not to do it later in the day because it’ll already be done!
- Get dressed: The different outfit tells your brain that it’s a new day, and it will give you that extra boost to start your day. (Admittedly, I sometimes change from night pajamas into day pajamas, but at least it’s a step in the right direction!)
- Write: Write your to-do list or grocery list, make a schedule, journal… Whatever gets you centered and refreshed.
- Set your goals for the day: What do you want to accomplish today? Think about it and write it out.
- Work toward your personal goals: Part of achieving your goals means making time for them. Spending even a little bit of time every morning will get you closer to achieving your goals than sporadic, when-you-can-fit-it-in effort.
Get Started Tomorrow!
Getting up before my kids has been nothing short of life-changing, and I want you to feel that way too! It doesn’t have to be an impossible task – give the whys and hows some thought, and then put a plan into action tomorrow morning!
Even if it’s just for 15 or 30 minutes, this short time in the morning will have a profound impact on the quality of your day. You will be more able to handle stress and challenges and you will be more likely to achieve your personal goals.
There’s no reason to wait – set that alarm a little earlier and transform your mornings. Taking time for yourself first thing in the morning will do wonders for your productivity and your happiness.
What you do with your early mornings and why you do it doesn’t have to matter to anyone else. This time is just for YOU, momma.
And you deserve it!