6 Ways to Make Your Early Mornings Easier

I was about to start off with “Last week I wrote about…” and then a little sleuthing reminded me that it’s been three weeks since I wrote anything. So.  If you were ever looking to read a post about good time management you have COME to the right place, people.

Ahem. Three weeks ago I wrote about making time to rest when you’re tired, even if that means getting less sleep.  For me, I need to get up early and spend time praying and reading my Bible every morning or I’m a wreck all day.  Today I got up early to spend time with the Lord, and let me tell you: I am tired. The past two months have seen three family members in the hospital, two out-of-town trips, multiple meetings, and oh yeah – my normal life.  Today my children were in RARE form.  And I say “rare” quite loosely because truthfully, I wish it were rarer.  Anyway my daughter starting things off with a bang by grabbing her nasty poopy diaper out from under her butt while I reached for a wipe and whipping it across the room and herself and her adorable outfit I just found hiding in a drawer and the carpet and my hand.  (Do you want to know how nasty that diaper was?  She had black beans last night.)  My son – not to be outdone – screamed and threw things and yelled and hoarded toys and went batpoo crazy the whole time I was tutoring in my home. Things pretty much went downhill from there and at one point I texted Jeremy and told him I wanted to scream.  And then I realized – I hadn’t screamed.  Or yelled at my kids or anyone else, which to be honest, is a BIG deal for me.  And even though I was going crazy inside, I realized that God had helped me treat my kids with true grace all day, and let me tell you – that does NOT happen on the days I sleep through my time with Him.

But I HATE getting up early. I am a natural night owl.  Even on the days I wake up really early I can still stay up til 1 or 2 in the morning without realizing I’m tired but then when that alarm starts going off at 6:00 –  I realize it real good.  So I have to find ways to make my mornings easier, and maybe some of these will help you, too.

So without further ado….

6 Ways to Make Your Early Mornings Easier

Can you tell I’m an expert at making pinnable pictures with catchy titles?  This is totally my forte.

get up early

  1. Give it a fair shot.  Don’t tell me you just can’t do mornings until you’ve actually, honestly tried. If you want to wake up early you have to go to bed a little earlier, or if nothing else, at a consistent time.  You need to actually get up early consistently for at least a week to really give it a fair shot. So don’t try for a few days and give up, or try for a couple weeks without ever being consistent. It won’t work – trust me.
  2. Set your coffee the night before.  Most of your basic coffee makers have a timer setting.  You can get everything ready and have your coffee brew for you at whatever time so you can literally wake up and smell the coffee.  I even drink decaf and it still helps.  For a while I went through a phase where I put my half and half and sugar in my mug and then stuck it in the fridge the night before, too.  I got over that.  Don’t drink coffee?  Freeze half a bottle of water, fill it and add lemon, then let it thaw overnight so you can drink something cold and refreshing when you first wake up.  Drink fancy coffee like a pour over or a French press?  Well….clapclapclap.  Not sure how to help you.  Sorry.
  3. Adjust your thermostat. I like to sleep with the air pretty cold because I sweat like pig at night (did you need to know that? Sure.) but it’s really, really, really hard to get out of a warm cozy bed and step into some frigid air. So if your air has the fancy sleep setting thing that will go up and down for you – rock it. If not, do what I do and drag yourself out of bed, cut the thermostat back up a few degrees, then go get back in bed for the mandatory 15-20 minutes of snooze-button-beating.  When it’s time to get up, it won’t be so hard.
  4. Pick out your clothes the night before.  Maybe this takes you back to elementary school but so be it.  Let’s have a show of hands from all the ladies who spend way too long staring at their clothes before deciding on one of the same 10 outfits you rotate allthefreakingtime.  Check the weather and lay out your clothes the night before – jewelry, shoes, underwear, all of it.
  5. Consider showering at night.  I know I know I know – your hair looks gross when you do that and showers help you wake up.  Me too.  BUT it really super sucks to have to choose between doing my devotions or getting to shower alone and do something really self-pampering like….I don’t know….shave the forest of my legs so I can wear shorts again. Plus I find a night shower helps me relax. At least give it a go. Maybe you just can’t hack it and if so I understand, but be prepared to wake up a little earlier.
    lamp.                                           Cool lamp, right?  Buy it here.
  6. Turn on a light. Immediately, as soon as your first alarm goes off.  Even if you don’t get up right away, the light will help you wake up a little. Sunlight is the best, but if you can’t drag yourself to the window – turn on your lamp.
  7. Bonus: play on your phone:  This is a slippery slope for me so take it with a grain of salt.  You know how they say staring at a screen before bed will wire your brain and keep you awake longer? I find the opposite is true.  When I’m just having a really hard time waking up after my obligatory first two alarms (I’m not the only one who does this, right?) sometimes I’ll start browsing instagram or playing Words with Friends.  It seems to help me wake up.  The only problem is how addictive it is – sometimes before I know it I’ve been on my phone for 15 minutes and then I’m rushing to get my coffee, get dressed, and do my devotions before Malachi comes traipsing into the room at 6:50 (on the flipping dot, every day, WHY?!) telling me “I got pee-pee my diaper” and “It’s almost breakfast time!”  So maybe set a timer or something so you don’t get sucked into the iPhone void?  I don’t know.

And there you have it.  Some things that I hope will help make your early mornings a little easier.  When I consistently do all of the above every day (which is quite rare, trust me) I get going into a really good routine.  But even just doing a couple is enough to help.

Tick Tock

It seems like the best definition of being a stay-at-home-mom is being busy all day, exhausted at night, but still having no idea what to say when asked, “What did you do today?” I used to be proud of myself when I could accomplish my whole to-do list in a day. Now making a to-do list at all is an accomplishment. It amazes me that any day I have to grocery shop automatically means: exhausting. And heaven forbid they don’t have a car cart because the consequences are the toddler has to either 1. walk (i.e. run a 5k down every aisle and fill the cart with canned corn and fruit snacks) or 2. get covered in groceries that he may not touch, eat, sniff, crush , rearrange, or throw. Also, your legs are numb, offspring? Suck it up or tough it out – I literally have no other options. You may have a free cookie from the bakery, or 4 if the bakers aren’t looking.

Bribery is your friend.

I wouldn’t trade my role as a stay-at-home-mom for the world, but these young years can be tough. Hilarious, sweet, fun, rewarding, but tough. There are days when all the busyness is exhausting not only because it’s a constant rotation of squat, lift, bend over, carry, repeat but because reading children’s books, playing restaurant, and explaining over and over that brown grapes don’t have dirt on them is far from mentally energizing.

My church teaches this principle of the pendulum. In the first century, grapevines were given three years to rest before they were allowed to grow grapes. The vine dressers knew that without enough rest they wouldn’t be strong enough to bear fruit. the same principle applies to us – we need to work from our rest, not rest from our work. Our life is like a pendulum constantly swinging from rest to work, abiding to fruitfulness, tick tock. Neither can exist alone. A clock can’t stop at one hour and keep ticking and you cannot stop on one end of the pendulum and keep living.

I used to take this literally. Without enough sleep I get short-tempered and sad so I need to make sleep a priority. Not a bad idea, in theory – extremely hard to maintain in practice. Babies get sick. Toddlers have nightmares. Laundry piles up and thunderstorms happen and sleep is no longer a constant. It used to be discouraging to think I’d always be operating on 50%, always fighting off frustration and bad moods and apathy. I was trying so hard to get enough rest and it never paid off, so why on earth was God nudging me to start getting up early again to spend time with Him? The baby still wasn’t sleeping through the night. Wasn’t this the grace period? But finally I did, and I realized oh. Physical rest, though important and something to strive for, isn’t a constant. But spiritual rest can be. Resting my mind and heart in Him every morning lets me “go to work” yawning and tired, but renewed and at peace. Does it always “last”? No. Do I still lose focus, roll my eyes, yell at my kids, or pretend I can’t hear them sometimes because I just need a break? Yes. But giving up a little physical rest to invest in spiritual rest every morning makes me feel like a new person.

The days are long, but I want each morning to be a fresh start, not another “Here we go again.” And on the nights when I stay up too late, bending over to pick up the pieces of a day that blew up in my face, those are the nights I KNOW I need to take some time to rest in the Lord, not just to recover but to prepare for a new day investing in my children. If my job description is to parent my children with grace, to teach them about a God who adores them, and to gently shepherd them towards His heart, they need my example more than my words. They need a Mommy with rings under her eyes who showers them with grace and patience, much more than they need a Mommy who got 8 hours of sleep but is tiring under the weight of all the yesterdays that she is dragging into today.

Maybe it feels more like your life pendulum swings from cuddles to tantrums, from Caillou to Dora, or from goldfish to Oreos. Maybe your baby is precariously wedged between your arm, your husband’s back, and somehow your left knee and if you twitch she WILL wake up. Maybe you’ve given it a fair shot and decided that mornings just do. not. work. for you. I’ve been there and I get it. He understands, too. But carve out some time. Find a way to wake up and get some rest. He can restore your heart and prepare your mind for another day of tea parties, crayons, The Hungry Caterpillar, and squat, lift, bend over, carry, repeat. There is no guilt in abiding and no greater productivity than pointing (little) hearts towards Him.