When you start waking up earlier, it really sucks. There, I said it.
I faced my dreaded early bird future a couple years ago, knowing it was the right way to go, but hating it and wishing desperately that I could hold onto my beloved night owl lifestyle.
The evenings were my prime time. Or so I thought. At the end of a long day, curling up on the couch with my laptop and a glass of wine made my heart happy. I would always tell myself I was going to be productive and knock out a blog post or two, but then get hazy and distracted and end up watching three hours of Netflix. I’d start to doze off and end up wandering to bed around midnight or later.
I reached a point where, like the lovely Kat Lee says so often, I was waking up TO my kids rather than FOR my kids. I woke up to them bickering, asking for breakfast, in a hazy fog from the late night before. Not my best self, I often started the day cranky, sometimes yelling - and the mom of the year award goes to…...anyone else.
I decided to suck it up and make some changes. I had already discovered the beauty of simplifying my home and how much freer I felt as a mom during my daily routine, so I wondered what I could change next.
I woke up at 5:00 the next morning. I forced myself to just do it - stand up and make the bed as quickly as possible, then run into the kitchen - no chance of climbing back under the cozy covers. I was half dead, but with some coffee and a few quiet moments, I got my laptop out and started writing.
I was pretty productive, but the kids heard me tapping the keyboard and kept wanting to come out. Then they’d be loud, then they’d ask me for breakfast despite the fact that it was still dark out and they probably shouldn’t even be awake yet. It was frustrating and discouraging, but I could see the light. I saw how the mornings could go and noticed that I was for sure more alert and ready to be productive early in the day, unlike nighttime when I’m really just DONE and want to veg out with my hubby and Netflix. Plus, I liked it, to my surprise.
I decided to adjust and push through, tweaking things to eliminate the problems. A couple years later, I still wake up around 5AM. It’s not perfect, and some days I get up slightly later and some days even a little earlier, depending on lots of things, but I’ve figured out how to make this work! And when it does, waking up early is pretty amazing and highly beneficial to motherhood.
I want to say before I dive into the deets...there are seasons for this. There are seasons to not give a crap - like when you’re pregnant or sick or have a baby who still wakes up randomly. There are people who truly do better, more productive work in the evening. This post isn’t meant to sway you. If you stay up late and get sh*t done, go for it. It works for you, great.
There are also seasons where nighttime really does work better for one reason or another. I’ve switched back to being a night owl twice in the last two years, very temporarily. Once because I was creating my course. It was very stressful and I found that I didn’t sleep well until I had poured a heavy amount of work into it. The other time is right now, in the past week, for a similar reason. I’m working on writing my book proposal and several other large work projects, and when the stress level is this high, for some reason I change into this nighttime productivity machine and just need to pour into my work right before I call it a day. It’s weird, but it works better for me very rarely, so I roll with it.
For the most part though, I wake up early. It’s now a part of my usual routine and it’s increased my productivity, happiness, energy levels, and general fulfillment in my life by a lot.
If you’re the kind of mom that’s in the right season of life and has the desire to wake up early but kind of sucks at it, this post is for you.
There are a lot of different reasons being dedicated to waking early has you failing or deciding you no longer give a crap. Let's hash them out, shall we?
1) When you wake early, your kids hear you no matter how quiet you are, and come out, ruining your plan for the morning.
Hear me, mama. YOU ARE THE PARENT! If you need to wake up early and be alone for a bit, set the rules and keep them.
When I saw this being an issue with my kids, I made a new house rule that is still in place to this day. The kids are not allowed to come out of their room (they have their own bathroom, otherwise that would be the only exception) until their alarm clock rings at 8 AM. This gives me three solid hours of writing without them coming out.
I set them up with what they need - this isn’t a torture chamber. They have a snack and water and are allowed to talk, read, and play until eight. My oldest gets the baby from his crib and helps busy him. Sometimes I have to run in and give him a fresh diaper, but the it’s right back into the room for some quiet play because that’s the house rule.
Kids, you can fuss all you want, but this is a boundary I have for myself, so that I can be a more productive, happy, loving mama.
They don’t even try to break this rule now because they know it’s set in stone.
2) You like staying up late the night before way too much.
This is your call, girl. It’s just like I say when talking about my decluttering course…. Do you want to reap the benefits of an uncluttered home or not? If you want to stop cleaning up all the time and be ready for company constantly, you have to purge and do the work.
Same goes here.
If you want the energy and productivity and good feelings that come from waking early and taking on the day, you have to make the sacrifice of time. I think so often we want a magic wand in life. If somehow we could stop loving the quiet of the evening and still wake up early magically productive, that would be great! Yes, it would be great. But you’re on Earth in cold hard reality, and it’s your call how your life goes down. So pick one. That’s the hard truth we need to face if we’re ready to stop letting life happen to us and start telling it how to go.
Waking early has massive return on investment, but you can’t get the return without the investment, yo.
3) The evening is the only time you and your husband get to spend together.
That’s true for probably almost all of us. Have at it! Watch a movie, eat dinner together, snuggle up, get freaky… whatever your thang is, do it and enjoy the time together! Getting up early doesn’t have to mean doing nothing at night and going to bed when your kids do.
If you’re so tired that that’s when you want to go to bed, it’ll get better as your body and sleep schedule adjust, and you might want to look at why you’re not sleeping heavy enough to feel rested, not what time you’re going to bed.
Brian and I LOVE our evenings together! We watch TV, we talk and laugh, it’s the best time of the day! Then around 10:30 or so, we head to bed fulfilled from the day and feeling connected from spending time together, and I can wake up early again.
Try not to make this seem like such a negative thing. It’s really not! Brian and I also put our kids to bed pretty early. Bella goes to bed around 8:30, and the boys go to bed around 7:30. That helps them get good rest and it helps us have some time alone. Again, boundaries and rules, mama. You’re the parents!
4) You can push through and wake up early, and you do feel more productive when you do it, but getting through the day without crashing is the problem.
Human adults need 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Are you getting that? If not, go to bed earlier or wake up later. Your call! If so, there’s another reason you are so fatigued, and you should look into it. You’re probably lacking a nutrient or something your body really needs. When I started taking B6/B12 shots, I was no longer dragging around 3:00 every day.
5) It’s dark and cold out, and so hard to actually get out of bed when it feels like I’ll freeze to death and be unable to get going.
There are going to be lots of hurdles to making this change (or any positive change), so it’s up to you to decide how bad you want the benefits.
Nothing good and different and better comes easy.
You can set yourself up for success, but you’ve also got to know it isn’t going to be perfect and easy all the time.
Keep a pair of super warm, cozy socks on your nightstand that you can quickly put on right when you wake up. Write a list of the benefits to waking up early and put it where you’ll see it when you open your eyes. Move your alarm clock so it’s not right by your bed and you have to get up to turn it off.
Set rules with yourself and be a disciplined person - that’s not something you either are or aren’t, it’s something you can choose and work hard to become.
Do you wake early or stay up late? What have you found works best for your productivity? Share your thoughts in the comments!