A few years ago, I was a night owl who stayed up well past midnight most nights. I woke up to my kids asking for breakfast every morning at whatever time they opened their eyes and decided my day would start.
I believed that being a night owl was in my DNA - just the way that I was - and had no idea that this was actually a very limiting belief that was keeping me from being a better wife and mom. Over time I got tired of feeling busy but not productive, and decided that something had to change, so I started waking up early.
Hear me, mama. If you want to change your entire life with one simple change, start waking up early.
Waking up early has been the single most transforming thing I have ever done for my life, right next to ditching my clutter.
I believe that in order to be productive and fulfilled in whatever your role is, you need to wake up early. I think there are seasons of life where it just isn’t gonna happen (a baby who isn’t sleeping well yet, pregnancy) but for most people in most seasons, I think becoming an early riser is the key to successfully rocking life.
I've heard people say they are actually more productive late at night when everyone’s in bed, and that may be true, but I found that there was a chance my nighttime productivity session wouldn’t come - life happens, the day can make you tired, things come up.
You might not get the chance for some quiet, focused time in your Bible at 2PM or 10PM, but you will at 5AM. I reached a point in my life where I was not living on purpose and I was struggling. I needed to take my days my the horns and pursue discipline, and that meant waking up early.
If you want to read more about how to start waking up earlier, how to handle kids who wake up when they hear you, and all the hurdles you face when trying to start your day early, I wrote a post on it that you can read here.
In this post, we’re focusing on what to do once you’re up.
I love what Laura Vanderkam says in her eBook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, “Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself before you pay your bills. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over.
Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen. If it has to happen, it has to happen first.”
It is so much easier to become distracted in the middle or at the end of the day, especially when you’re a busy mama. Having kids means stuff comes up on a daily hourly basis. You cannot count on later for doing things that matter.
There is so much on our to do lists as moms that it can be stressful trying to decide how to spend our early morning time. It’s easy to give in to the pull to catch up on a looming task like laundry, but really, the mornings need to be for the things you can’t do well with kids awake and life happening.
In the early morning hours, it feels like life is paused. It’s quieter, solitude is so much easier to find, and you can think clearly (post-coffee, of course). Think about what you can do in these early hours that is really hard to get done during the rush of the day - quiet time, prayer, reading, exercise, stretching, breathing - do those things.
What fills your soul and makes you feel like you can handle the day ahead and live it well? Is it reading Scripture? Sitting still while you listen to music? Taking in a good book? Meditation? Find a way to have some guided peaceful time in your morning. For me, I read my Bible as well as a short devotional (Streams in the Desert is my all-time favorite).
It’s really important to give yourself a strong, positive start to the day because it’s so easy for things to take a negative turn. When we put ourselves in the right mindset before the day even gets going, we up our odds of success and take control of where our minds will go as the day’s events unfold.
I like to take a walk (my husband is at home in case our kids were to need anything) and read my morning affirmations out loud. These affirmations have a powerful effect on me and get my mind right every time, no matter what’s going on. I also give my day to the Lord in prayer on my morning walk.
Click here to get a list of my morning affirmations for motherhood and success.
If exercise isn’t a part of your week, it should be. There are innumerable studies that show what an incredible, positive effect movement has on your body and your mind. You can’t take care of yourself without some kind of exercise.
Take a walk, follow along with a yoga YouTuber, train for a 5k, get a kickboxing DVD - whatever floats your boat. Along with my morning walk (which is super mellow and not really intended to be exercise), I have a gym membership which I use a few times a week. I’m also a fan of yoga and am currently on track to become a licensed instructor because I love it so much. Find what moves you, inside and out, and make it a part of your morning rhythm.
What practical things really need to get done? What are your most pressing tasks for the day ahead? Get them done before breakfast.
For me, as a writer with four small kids at home all day with me, it is incredibly difficult for me to create a quiet space for writing. I am constantly interrupted, frustrated, and trying to write in the middle of the day is pretty much pointless, even with Brian home to help me. I need to get my most pressing writing done early in the morning. I write about 1,000-2,000 words in the morning a few days a week. This keeps me on top of my task list with running the blog, and doesn’t take me too long.
If you don’t run a blog or a business, your work could be a load of laundry or meal planning. Whatever makes you feel pressured when you think about not getting it done during the day, do it early in the morning. Get it out of the way so that if life happens and things come up, it’s okay because your highest priority tasks are taken care of. You’ll be a much happier, calmer mom - trust me!
You can choose two or three or all of these types of things to add to your early morning rhythm. What you’ll be able to do depends on how early you wake up and what your circumstances are. The key is to be flexible and disciplined at the same time, and prioritize your morning time. It matters.
Do you have an early morning rhythm? Share your ideas for productivity in the mornings in the comments!