Mornings are hard. I get it. And to get our “Me Time” in the morning? Why, that’s nearly impossible!
We’ve all heard great ideas and read great articles on how to make mornings easier. But you know, these theories and advice are all great…until it comes time to put it into practice.
This week my husband started a new work schedule which would require him to wake up early – really early – and leave the house around 5:15 am. Halfway through the week, I realized that falling back asleep after that kiss goodbye was not a great idea. I read somewhere that the R.E.M. cycle takes about 90 minutes in adults, which means that I wouldn’t complete my cycle until about 6:45 am. NOPE. Not going to work.
But then it dawned on me: Why don’t I just stay UP? …. The thought lasted for about 2 minutes before I literally laughed in my face. I am NOT a morning person. Seriously.
For those of you who read my post about morning routine, you know that I’ve been working on my mornings. And so far, it’s been GREAT! But I’m not quite sure it’s 5 a.m. great. You know? Not quite sure I’m ready to get up before the roosters start crowing in un-unison. Not quite sure I’m ready to get vertical when horizontal is so much more comfortable. Not quite sure if I’m ready to get on a senior citizen schedule. (Don’t pretend like you don’t know. They get up at 5 am and head down to McDonalds to get their senior coffee and hang out with all the other seniors, read the newspaper, and talk ALL the talk of the day. …or is this just a Hawaii thing?)
But this particular morning, as I slugged out of bed, I realized like any new thing, it’s about building the habit. I can’t start it unless I’m willing to take that very first step. And then the next. And then the next. I wonder if this is a habit you struggle with as well. For many of us, our early morning minutes are a precious commodity. Those serene, quiet seconds when we can actually hear the ticking of the clock, the hum of the refrigerator, and the slow, rhythmic pace of your own heartbeat.
Those of you with littles know that these moments do not come very often. We are so quickly swept up into the daily busyness that before we know it, we collapse on our beds in a heap of exhaustion, not moving an inch until that blaring morning alarm wakes us up to do it all over again. Perhaps it is time to tap into that sacred morning resource and use it to refuel our souls when we need it the most.
Here are a few tips to help ease you into the habit of early mornings:
Set the scene.
If motherhood has taught me anything, it’s that preparation is the key. Whether it’s setting backpacks out the night before school, pre-loading the car the day before a road trip, or chopping up a whole lot of vegetables for a week’s worth of meals, preparing helps to alleviate stress during the even by getting as we can before hand. Early mornings for us can be treated the same.
Think about whatever is going to help you out in the morning. After all, we don’t want to spend thirty minutes brewing coffee, clearing the table or sitting area, choosing the right mood music, or finding the right book, just to have our favorite child wake up two seconds after settling in. Or maybe after setting everything up, we realize that it’s already time to get ready for work. Instead of starting refreshed, we start off with feelings of disappointment.
Take about 5-10 minutes the night before preparing your “quiet space”. Pre-measure your coffee or set out your tea bags. Set your reading material in your space. Or maybe you’re choosing meditation, so you set out your mat or towel, and have your music set and ready to go. (By the way, if you’re in need of an awesome quiet time playlist – which I’m using right now as I write this, check it out here!)
Don’t forget to let your family or roommates know what you’re up to! Your spouse might panic wondering why you’re not in bed, and your kids might be confused why you’re sitting in the middle of the floor while everyone else is sleeping. Be honest with them. Explain that this is your time to reconnect with God. It’s a special time that everyone needs to fill their souls. Let them know that if they wake up and find you, it’s not the best time to interrupt, but if they wanted to, they could use this quiet time to connect with God also. After all, it’s a great habit to start, no matter what age.
Go to bed earlier.
Let’s face it. If we want to wake up earlier, we should go to be earlier. It sounds so easy, but for those of you like me, we tend to get to the bed, but we end up binge-watching shows on Netflix, scramble through YouTube, or get lost on the rabbit trails of social media. (Don’t get me started on InstaStories!) As a mom I feel that after the kids go to be and my “chores” are done, it’s time for me to have some grown up time. And I try to cram in as many things that I can into that time between 9:30 and whatever time my eyes close. The problem is, there’s a good chance the closing of the eyes doesn’t happen until nearly midnight, and my brain is so overstimulated that my mind has a horrible time getting rest.
Now I don’t want to be the mean mom and say that you can’t have electronics after a certain hour – or heaven forbid, in bed! I won’t tell you that you have to have the lights out by a certain time. But wait. We do that to our kids right? Why? Well, because we want them to get a good night’s sleep, we know electronics are bad right before sleep, and we enforce these rules because rest is super important for their growth. Aaah…. So if we are so concerned for them, why aren’t we concerned for our own wellness? Is it rebellion? Is it entitlement? Or do we simply not care as much for our own needs as we do for the needs of our children? Let’s ponder that for a moment.
So let’s plan it out. Put the electronics away by a certain time. Schedule your lights out at a certain time. Allow yourself to get the right amount of sleep your body needs. Wind down those last thirty minutes to an hour with a nice bath or a good book. For those of you needing external input, try listening to a podcast instead of watching endless videos.
This part may take some work and time. If you’re used to the end of the night stimulation, your body will start craving it in its absence. You might even experience withdrawal symptoms – even more the reason why we should curb this habit.
Choose your alarms wisely.
There is nothing more startling than waking up to a blaring alarm. Especially when it’s not yours.
If you’re choosing to wake up before the rest of the household, you might want to choose a tone that’s more subtle and soothing. In my previous post, I suggested that we keep our phones out of the room at night – primarily because if you have a social media addiction like me, it’s the first thing that we check when we open our eyes. So what should we do if we use our phones as alarm clocks? Well, get a new one. But Jenn, normal alarm clocks don’t have soft music options. They have annoying buzzers and beepers.
One of the great things about technology is that there are actually a lot of great, new options out there. Many of the new alarm clocks use bluetooth technology to sync with your phone allowing you to wake up to your favorite music. Take a look around and find one that is right for you and your spouse. And if it doesn’t seem affordable for you, put it on your birthday or Christmas wish list. Determine for yourself how important it is for you to get your phone out of your room.
However, if you must, go ahead and use your phone alarm. The next tip will hopefully keep you from actually turning it on an scrolling for the first thirty minutes of your day….
Remember your purpose.
No one can pull us out of bed except for ourselves. (Well, I guess they could, but it wouldn’t be pretty.) So what’s the best motivation for getting out of bed? Remembering our purpose. Why am I up so early? you ask yourself at 5:00 a.m. Well, my friend, you have an answer for that. What is your purpose for waking up early? Surely it’s not because I said so. What is your reason? Write it down and post it somewhere you will see in the morning, so when you fight with yourself about waking up before the sun, you don’t have to succumb to the tired, grouchy voice in your head saying that 5 more minutes of sleep will make a difference. It will try to convince you, “I don’t need to do this today, I can start tomorrow.”
No. Be prepared. Let the voice in your heart stand firm, and from that paper taped up above your night stand proclaim, “I am waking up early because in these still, quiet moments, I will find peace and listen for the voice of God. This is MY time. This is His time. This is IMPORTANT for my soul!”
(Not to mention five more minutes of sleep will actually make you more tired, thus leading to another hour or so….)
Follow through with a reward, if you must.
I’m not a huge fan of rewards, but hey, if it works, why not?
If you find yourself needing an incentive, plan one out ahead of time. Maybe if you wake up early all week, you can treat yourself to a specialty cup of coffee or tea. Or maybe grab some fro-yo before picking up the kids. You have accomplished taking care of YOU, so continue to take care of YOU!
We often forget to treat ourselves to something nice. Our hearts are often on taking care of so many others that we run out of time and or energy for ourselves. Or maybe you’re like me – I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t be spending any money or time on myself unless I really NEED something. I shouldn’t fuel myself with monetary or worldly things. Yes, that’s true in a way, we shouldn’t be consumed by things. But once in a while, it’s nice to break out of the norm, and remind ourselves that we are special. Maybe not with a giant tub of ice cream or huge diamond earrings, but how about a nice dish of gelato, or a stroll through a modern museum of art? While we should not become dependent on the things of this world, God inspired many beautiful creations in this world for us to enjoy. (Seriously, have you ever looked into the process of making coffee or chocolate? Who else but God could have inspired humans to turn such bitter beans into something so delectable?!)
Start today and don’t give up.
I like to start things on Sundays, or Mondays, or on the first day of the month, or better yet, the new year! But let’s face it, if we want to start a new habit, we need to strike now while the iron is hot. The motivation is here right now and there really is no good reason to wait for another week just so we can start on a Monday. We may not feel as strongly convicted then. The excitement of starting new may start to wean, and doubts may start to creep in. Tomorrow morning is ready for us, so let’s get ready for it!
And with any new routine or habit, this will take some time to adjust to. You may find yourself ready to give in to slumber on a cold and rainy day three. You might find yourself frustrated after forgetting to set the scene for day seven. You quiet time may be cut short as your child vomits in the bathroom on the morning of day eleven.
But I want to assure you – just as I am assuring myself – that this is SO worth it! WE are SO worth it!
Let’s start this journey, friends, together. Feel free to comment below if you’re with me in taking up this early morning challenge so we can pray for each other and cheer each other on!
Have a beautiful day and don’t forget that You Are Loved.