Waking Up Before Your Kids
Can I tell you the one thing I miss most about my pre-motherhood days? Sleep. Remember the days when you could sleep in on weekends? Or play hooky and not get out of bed until 10? Or even just take a nap after a really long day? Yeah, that's what I miss most about my care-free childless days. But now I've given up those reckless days of spontaneous and glorious sleep, for the three little munchkins who stole my heart (and sleep, as fate would have it).
Being a sleep-lover, I hate waking up in the morning. HATE IT. In fact, I can't utter a coherent sentence until I'm at least halfway through a cup of coffee. This poses a problem when little feet slyly creep into my room (sometimes when it's still dark outside) and little fingers poke ruthlessly at my rib cage until I get up. If only I could bop them on the head and they'd snooze for just five more minutes...
But alas, my children don't sleep or snooze, so I get up, grunt, and make my way downstairs to try to make my coffee while tending to their seemingly endless demands: "I need milk! What's for breakfast? What day is it? Do I have school today?" I do my best to answer these demands with at least one audible real word, but I haven't had coffee or wiped the sleep from my eyes yet, so I more often sound like an angry dog than an actual human. This, of course, leads to more questions, as the first ones weren't answered, which may or may not lead to some yelling and frustration on my end, at which point chaos ensues, and we're off to a lousy day before it really even had a chance to begin.
But wait, my sleep-loving, groggy, mommy friends! If this sounds like you, I may have just the solution you're looking for! At some point, about a year ago, I decided it just needed to stop. Bad day after bad day after bad day and being grumpy with my kids was just no way to live. So I started getting up just 15-30 minutes before my kids. Yes, it's a huge sacrifice for a sleep-lover, like myself, but here's what happened when I did:
1. Built in "Me-Time"
By getting up just 30 minutes earlier, you'll have time to shower and have a cup of hot coffee. By. Yourself. Things I had only dreamed about previously. You can even peruse Facebook or Pinterest, uninterrupted while you have your coffee. How awesome is that?! Those things alone were reason enough to motivate my behind out of bed, just a little sooner. This time will give you a moment to wake up and orient yourself, by yourself, and relax before jumping into your hectic day.
2. Planning Your Day
Waking up before your kids gives you an opportunity to think about your day, your schedule, and your to-do list without the incessant shouting and queries of a host of tiny humans in the background. You can get through that mental checklist pretty fast when you've already had your caffeine jolt and you're not responding to requests between each point. When you have a chance to think about and plan your day before it really begins, you'll find you can actually get more done during the rest of the day, which brings me to my next point.
3. An Opportunity to be More Productive
I'm not saying you have to be productive during those first 30 minutes of your day. Like I said above, you should totally use those minutes for yourself. But since I'm already caffeinated, showered, dressed, and have the day planned, by the time the kids are up, I'm ready to start. I can wash the dishes while the kids eat breakfast and chat. I can already have a load of laundry in the wash before their second cup of milk. It might be the caffeine already circulating through my veins or it might be that I had a chance to plan my to-do list, but I've found I'm much more productive when I give myself those extra few minutes in the morning.
4. You'll Have More Patience
I consider myself a fairly patient person. But kids totally have a way of testing that patience, don't they? I found that when I gave myself a minute to figure out which way was up, I sweat the small stuff even less. You spilled your milk? No problem, here's a towel. You fell out of your chair for the millionth time because, for reasons not quite known to me, you can't sit still in your chair for the 10 minutes it takes to eat breakfast? That's ok. I'll just patiently remind you about good table manners. I've also found that this extra patience carries on throughout the day. And every mom could use a little extra patience, right?
Tips to get you started:
If you cringe at the thought of getting up earlier, I still highly recommend it. And here are a few tips to help get you out of bed in the morning:
- Set your alarm clock across the room. If you have to get up to turn it off, you're less likely to go back to bed or hit snooze. I started this during my college days (Seriously, whose idea was it to have 7:30 AM classes?!), and still do it to this day.
- Set a routine for yourself in the mornings. When I get up, I make a bee-line to the coffee maker. Then while the coffee is brewing, I can hop in the shower or locate my daily planner.
- Even if you're not a shower-every-day person, plan to do something involving water and hygiene first thing in the morning. Wash your face, brush your teeth, fix your hair, etc. I don't know what it is about water, but it really wakes you up. And getting ready for the day physically makes you feel ready for your day mentally.
But my kids already wake up at the crack of dawn. How can I possibly expect to realistically get up earlier than I already have to?
This is a tough one. And I'll let you know right now, I HAVE THOSE KIDS. My kids all too frequently think 4-5 AM, when it's still dark outside is a reasonable time to get up for the day. I, as a reasonably sane person, do not. We've tried messing with bed time, cutting naps, adding naps, changing meal times, those cute little clocks that turn green when you can get out of bed, but to no avail. I guess my kids are just really excited about starting the day.
So ultimately, I just gave up on getting my kids to sleep that long, and now the rule is that they are absolutely not allowed to leave their room, unless it's a potty emergency, until 6:30 AM. I have my alarm set for 6AM, and most of the time they're already up by that point. We put all of their stuffed animals in their room, and when they get up, they're allowed to play quietly with these toys, and maybe an extra toy or two chosen before bed time, until I come get them for breakfast.
So if you have kids like mine this can still totally work for you. Just implement the rule and expect it to take a week or two for it to sink in. It is SO worth it.
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