It’s no secret mornings are hard for many people. But for moms, mornings can bring a unique kind of stress, making the entire day feel like an uphill climb.
From the moment you open your eyes, you’re met by demands, needs, and questions, one right after the other. In fact, you are likely awakened by a need, often in the form of a pint-sized version of yourself, nose inches from yours, wanting Cheerios (now!) or informing you they’ve wet the bed (nice). No wonder mornings can make you feel like you’re drowning.
Surprisingly, I actually used to be a morning person. I used to enjoy those still, quiet hours, preparing myself for the rest of the day.
Then I had kids.
Sleep became more precious. Night wakings became more frequent. The demands of motherhood turned waking up early from a choice to a necessity.
Mornings became a struggle.
I woke up already feeling behind. I never quite felt like I could catch up or catch a break. I was grumpy. We were rushed. I spent a lot of mornings longing for nap time, then bedtime. And let’s not forget the hundreds of misplaced, neglected, unconsumed cups of coffee. Mornings. Were. Hard.
Then, several months back, my circadian rhythm decided to get wonky. It started waking me an hour earlier. It was frustrating, but after a month of lying in bed tossing and turning and staring at the ceiling, I decided to stop fighting my body and instead to huff myself out of bed and get my day started. The results were shocking.
My life changed.
For the better.
(And yes, I know that sounds dramatic, but hear me out).
When I started waking up BEFORE my family, I noticed several significant things that have changed the trajectory for my entire day:
- I experience my home in silence. There’s something about waking up in silence, giving your brain some space to catch up with your body, and soaking in peace. The more children I have, the more I realize that there is a very large chunk of me that is introverted and desperately needs time to myself. My children are at a stage where I can’t depend on a nap or quiet time to fill this need, so making sure I have it before the day starts is critical to my emotional well being.
- I accomplish the things I consider essential. My new morning routine consists of prayer and reflection, Bible reading, exercise, finishing a cup of (still hot!) coffee, and throwing in a load of laundry. These things are my top priorities in my daily home-life. By checking these things off of my to-do list right away, I start my day feeling accomplished and as though I might be able to handle the interruptions life with four small kids throws my way. Anything else I accomplish in the day is bonus.
- I am ready and eager to love my family well when they start their day. In her book, “Hello Mornings: How to Build a Grace-Filled, Life-Giving Morning Routine,” Kat Lee encourages readers to “wake up for your life, not just to your life.” When I wake up before my family needs me, I’m able to fill my cup before attempting to meet the needs of those I love. As has been said many times before, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.”
As can be expected, my season of morning insomnia didn’t last: eventually, my body started letting me sleep again. But by then, I’d learned to love my morning routine, and realized the benefits of waking up early far outweighed the cost. I had to make some adjustments.
If you think starting a morning routine might be just the change you need (but waking up early sounds hard) here are three tips to get yourself going:
- Create a welcoming space to greet you each morning. For me, this is a desk area in the corner of our basement. It’s a clean, mom-only corner, free of clutter with bright yet welcoming lighting. I added a cute succulent (nevermind that it’s fake), some decor, my favorite candle, and even lay a warm cozy blanket over the chair the night before to make it that much more inviting. When you have a beautiful space to go to, it makes getting out of your warm bed that much less torturous.
- Go to bed early. I know, I know. This was my biggest hangup, too. As parents, night time is sometimes our only time to ourselves or with our significant other. But if we look at it as realizing how beneficial mornings can be to the rest of our days, it might be a good trade-off. And I’m not suggesting you go to bed when your kids do, but set a bedtime for yourself, set an alarm, and stick to it.
- Start with 5 minutes. A morning routine doesn’t have to be long and elaborate. Even five minutes can be enough to clear your head and prepare your heart for the day ahead. Wake up five minutes early, make your cup of coffee in peace, and ready your mind for whatever life might throw at you that day.
Friends, with a few small changes, we can take back our mornings and get our days started on the right foot. I’m on a journey to make mornings my favorite time of the day, rather than the time I dread. Would you like to join me? I’d love to hear your thoughts!