How Intentional Mornings Are Changing My Life

It wasn't all that long ago that I was sleeping in as late as my kids. Now for some people who have kids that wake at 6 a.m., that's not saying a lot. But when your kids often sleep until 8 a.m., well, it's a little embarrassing. But after five months of living off maybe - maybe - two hours a night (aka, colic), then eight more months of regular night wakings, I think I was just making up for a long-lasting deficit. But as the night wakings *generally* faded, I've been working on getting up before my kids. It was slow going at first, I started with alarms at 7 a.m., then 6 a.m., and now 5 a.m.

I know a lot of times as moms, we like to joke that mornings are impossible for us. That there's no way we can wake up before our kids.  And in certain seasons, I think that is completely true. As the saying goes, "Sometimes the most holy thing we can do is sleep." But as my kids grew up and my true need for sleep grew less, I started feeling conviction that I should be more purposeful with my mornings.

Honestly, I've tried waking early before. Back then, I was just waking up and dinking around. No true purpose. Maybe I'd blog. Maybe I'd read a bit of a book. I'd try to have a quiet time sometime in there. Research a new iPad cover so when my kids throw it in the backseat on a trip it bounces instead of cracks. Paint my nails. Spend 30 minutes comparing tissue prices on Amazon Prime.

But before I knew it, the kids were up and I hadn't gotten anything done except grab a low price on 16 boxes of tissues that would arrive in two days.

So I knew if I was going to keep this up, if this were going to be a lasting habit, I needed to make my mornings more intentional. As I did that, as I forced myself out of bed one morning, then the next, and the next, I found I started to love that time to myself. I actually craved waking before the rest of the house (Even on weekends!) and found that time to be invaluable, not only in getting things done, but to set my heart on the right things.

Intentional mornings have completely changed how I mother. Now that I have time to do a little self-care, get organized and get a few things off the to-do list done before the kids wake, I'm finding that I'm much more patient throughout the day. I'm less distracted. I'm more intentional to set aside time to have focused play with the kids, which fills both our tanks. In short, I feel like I can fully "mom" throughout the day instead of feeling pulled in twenty different directions.

It's not perfect of course. Sometimes, I'm still impatient – because: selfishness. Sometimes, things come up in the middle of the day that I want to deal with right away and I find I'm distracted. And sometimes, I don't get that time in the morning and I can easily find myself making excuses for my attitude, when in reality I need to put on my big girl pants and remember that intentional mornings are a privilege, not a right.

Here are some tips I've found helpful to have an intentional morning (because just because you wake early, doesn't mean that the time will be well-spent)!

Have a set time
It's pretty easy for me to just keep hitting the snooze button on my phone. I once did it for two hours - TWO HOURS! In hindsight, I really wish I would have either just gotten up or turned it off an actually got good rest. It's not worth it if you're just going to hit your snooze a million times. Really try to stick to the time you've committed to. And don't be afraid to work up to a certain time – more power to you if you can go cold turkey to the time you want to wake, but don't feel bad if you need a bit of a weaning process.

Decide what you'll do
Remember my aimless mornings? Don't be like me. You might as well be sleeping. I have friends that wake up and work out, others that meal plan, some that write, and some that run their businesses. The key is planning how you'll spend your time, and making sure it's on something that's going to start your day off right. I tend to prioritize the things that I can't do well with the kids underfoot. I start off with my quiet time (I gave the full run down on how I make that happen here), then move to emails/messages/planning for the day, and two mornings a week I have meetings for the Risen Motherhood podcast at 6 a.m.

Go to bed/wind down early
This has been huge for me. For a long time we weren't going to bed until around 11 p.m. And I like staying up, but often my brain is just fried from the day so we were spending that time zoning out to TV, which really wasn't productive at all. Getting up a 5 a.m. means I'm in bed by 9:30, 10 at the latest. I also started reading paper books instead of looking at my phone, just to help my body wind down and fall asleep faster.

Make it easy & get rid of excuses
For me, it's all about the coffee. I'm in a low-grade haze when I wake up until I've had my first cup of coffee.Whatever it is you decide to do with your mornings, make everything easy to access. The first thing I do is have a quiet time, so I keep all my materials together on a desk in the living room. Everything's easy to nab and I can't make any excuses. I also now get ready before I go downstairs, being dressed for the day helps me feel more focused, and avoids the last minute scramble that was happening when I waited until the end and my kids were waking. If you don't have time to get ready in the morning, try showering at night to save some time. We can all think of a million excuses - but excuses are different than reasons. Excuses blame other things or people. Reasons take accountability for what's happening and help us figure out how to take control of a situation in the future. We can deal with reasons, get rid of the excuses!

Don't be discouraged
As moms, our lives are super unpredictable. A few weeks ago my son was sick and I was co-sleeping with him for a few nights in a row. You'd better believe I didn't wake up early those days. I just asked the doctor for a caffeine IV drip in my arm to go along with my son's IV. (Kidding!) Don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen for a day or two, or even a longer season. That's normal. That's life. Just start over when you can. All is not lost if you sleep through your alarm, just try again tomorrow. It's simple.

I've never thought of myself as a creature of habit, but as a young mom we all know our days rarely go to plan, so having one thing in the morning that's consistent has been so beneficial to me. Are you an early riser? I'd love to hear what you do with your mornings and if you've found any other tips!

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