I know, it can be tempting to use your child as your alarm clock, especially in those early years when school doesn't dictate your schedule yet. Once they call for you, you drag yourself out of bed to grab them, get them breakfast or nurse them while you sip on your first (probably already cold) coffee of the day. You feel tired, and like a truck just hit you. This is how you drag yourself through the day, every day.
It is so important to have some own time to yourself, we all know that. It just seems impossible in between jobs, school drop offs and activities, while nursing on demand, running a household, doing endless laundry, and trying to get something edible on the table. And don't forget that there may still be a partner in the picture that you want to have some kind of conversation with other than "it's your turn to change the diaper!!!!" We all tell ourselves that we will kick back with our favorite show tonight or go meet that friend we've been meaning to catch up with forever. It never happens, because there is always too much to do. When is there any time at all for a busy mama? The mornings!
I know this sounds brutal to everyone who may not be a morning person. Let me explain why this is the best time to have time to yourself:
1. It's predictable
Trying to schedule a different time every day to have a moment to yourself is a nice idea, but rarely ever works out. There are just simply too many surprises with kids. But once your child is on a sleep schedule (maybe as early as 3 months old), she/ he can also become more predictable. After a few weeks you realize that they always wake up in a certain time window. So you know that if you always set your alarm at least an hour before that you've got a good 45 minutes to an hour to yourself.
2. The house is quiet - when does that ever happen?
Once Baby Zand was on a regular sleeping schedule - which didn't happen for us until she was almost 9 months old - I immediately started setting my alarm for 90 minutes before she would get up. Yes, that means that most mornings I am up before 6am. And you know what? It's the most amazing, peaceful time ever!!! The house is completely quiet. The baby is asleep. The husband is asleep. The dog is asleep. The whole neighborhood is asleep. When do I ever get quiet and peace throughout the day? Either Baby Zand throws a tantrum, some toys are blasting incredibly loud music, or puppy Haigo is chasing birds in the yard barking loudly. There is always a certain level of noise, and when it all gets too much it completely irritates me. I feel overwhelmed, and like my head is about to explode. Then I think back on the quiet morning I had, and that I will have again, and it makes it so much better. I can sit by myself, just with my own thoughts. It's like a mini holiday every single day.
3. Doing something that uplifts you sets you up for a better day: more energy, more happiness, more patience
So let's say you drag your tired butt out of bed early, and then you realize there is laundry to be folded, last night's dishes are still standing around, and you really need to respond to an urgent email. NO! This is not the time to do everything you would do throughout the day anyways. This is the time to yourself. Do something you love. Anything! Maybe you use this time to move your body in whatever way feels good to you: drop down on your yoga mat, go for a run, dance around in your living room. Maybe you like to take it easy. Make yourself a nice hot cup of tea or coffee, sit down, and read a few pages in a book. Catch up on a show you fell asleep during last night with one hand still in the Ben & Jerry's tub. Maybe use this time to mediate, to journal, to do some gratitudes, to call your mom or best friend, to work on a creative project or to just simply sit and watch the sun rise. Whatever you choose, it should uplift you, so you feel like the day is starting off on a good note. Doesn't that sound so much more peaceful than rushing around getting the kids dressed, while you are trying to send off an email with a slice of toast hanging out of your mouth?
I get it, but how?!?!?!
Now that you want to get up early, how will you actually drag yourself out of bed? Yes, you will need to go to bed earlier. Make sure that whatever time you choose, you can get at least 8 hours of sleep, if not more. I am usually up by 5.45am, which means that I am in bed by 9pm to wind down and get to sleep. This may seem early, so slowly adjust your sleeping schedule in 15 minute increments. So on the first day, go to sleep 15 minutes earlier than you usually would, and set your alarm 15 minutes before your child wakes up. Do this for a few days and adjust again another 15 minutes until you are somewhere between 60 and 90 minutes before everyone else wakes up. This will give you a nice time window to do something you love, get breakfast on the table without the stress of everyone running around you, and get yourself ready for the day.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Do you get up early or do you like to "sleep in" with your child? Do you have any morning rituals you do to get you going? Let me know how these tips work out for you.