For YEARS I wanted to start waking up before my kids, but no matter how hard I tried, I just. Couldn’t. Do. It.
I’d succeed for a day or two, but after a late night I’d be back to my usual rut of staying in bed until I heard little voices politely
asking for demanding breakfast. For the rest of the day, my life revolved around meeting one demand after the next. “Read this story,” “Wipe my butt,” “I need a snack,” “Play with me,” “Get my toys,” “Find my shoes,” ….. on and on and on.
All of my mama friends out there know that when we scramble to meet everyone else’s needs all day long, it’s very difficult to feel accomplished or fulfilled at the end of the day. Am I right??? Too often we fall into bed at night feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. And then we get up, only to struggle through the exact same routine the next day. Ugh. No wonder moms feel like they don’t have the energy or time to take a shower and get dressed! (For more on the importance of getting dressed everyday, check out this post here). I desperately wondered “How will I ever get out of this gigantic mom rut?”
The answer: WAKE UP before my kids!
Like so many things in life, I knew the answer to this problem before I was willing to admit it. It didn’t take rocket science. I NEEDED to figure out a way to consistently wake up before my kids. If I could eke out an extra hour or two before the demands came rolling in, I’d feel so much more productive with my days.
I realized that my days would continue to control me unless I started to take control of them. I was taught by my mom coach that if I could just conquer my mornings, I’d feel like I’d conquered the whole day. She was so right! If I could just get a few simple victories in the morning, I’d be able to weather the day with those positive vibes under my belt all day long.
So I started setting my alarm for 5:30 am. Ouch. I’m not gonna lie, the first week hurt. But I’d pull myself out of bed because I had a list of 5 things I wanted to do before the kids woke up:
- Pray sincerely
- Read scripture
- Shower and listen to audios/podcasts
- Get dressed and ready
Just writing out my morning tasks got me really excited about how accomplished I’d feel if I could just do it! I was tired on Day One, but I went to bed a bit earlier than I normally would, and I woke up again on Day Two.
Getting My Kids On Board
I’ll be totally honest with you and tell you that I didn’t succeed everyday. My earlier riser kids would often wake up before I made it all the way through my list. But I’d take a minute to get them some breakfast and get right back to my new routine. Sometimes I’d have my kids workout with me, sometimes I’d let them climb into my freshly made bed if they were still sleepy, sometimes I’d tell them to go get some books to read. But here’s the thing: I persisted.
I got really good at telling my kids, “This is Mommy’s time in the morning. I love you and I’m glad you’re awake. I’ll get you some breakfast and then I’m going back to my finish my routine.” Even my three year old caught onto this within a few weeks. As long as she had some food in her belly, and the knowledge that I’d read her a story when I finished, she was pretty much on board. It just took commitment from me to show them that I was doing this! (For a few insights on how to communicate with toddlers, check out this post here. It’s like magic, I promise!)
Now that I’m eighteen months into being a morning person, I’ve learned a few secrets that might help you if waking up before your kids is something you want to do.
Secret #1: The Wake Up Alarm
I was pleased with myself for waking up before my kids consistently for about 4 months. And then something big happened: FALL and the end of my sunny mornings. Getting out of bed when it was still dark was a big challenge for me!
So I bought a sunrise alarm like this – basically it’s a light that turns on 30 minutes before my alarm goes off and gradually lights the room. It’s meant to simulate the sun rising outside. And although our particular model no longer fades super well, it was still helpful when I needed it.
The sunrise alarm worked great for a few months, but then my body got accustomed to it. I got pretty good at just rolling over when the light would turn on. And then I started to use the snooze button way too much.
It was time for a new solution: my phone alarm. Although I still use the sunrise alarm, the beauty of setting the alarm on my phone means I can put it wherever I want in my room. So mamas, I highly recommend setting your phone alarm and then putting your phone all the way across the room from where you sleep. This means that I now have to GET OUT OF BED and walk across the room to turn it off!
Secret #2: Make Your Bed
As soon as I am out of bed, I pull up the covers and put the pillows back in place. In less than one minute, I’ve accomplished something positive by making my bed. Even if my hubs in still in the bed (which is unusual, because he has early flights almost every morning), I still make my half of it. There’s no way I’m gonna crawl back in and undo my own work, right?!
The power of making your bed is HUGE. You can let this one simple action serve as a major psychological win for your day. No matter what else happens, you know that you’ve done at least ONE small thing to organize your life and your home. I highly recommend watching this speech by Navy SEAL Admiral McRaven about the power of making the bed every morning if you’re unconvinced. Even if you’re waking up early for a crying baby, go ahead and make your bed. Your baby will be okay. I’m serious.
Secret #3: Drink Water and Change Out of Your PJs
As soon as I shuffle out of bed to turn off my alarm, I keep right on shuffling out to the kitchen for a fresh drink of cold water. This will wake up your brain and get you on the path to hydration, both BIG wins to get your morning off to a great, lively start.
Next, change out of your pajamas. I change into my workout clothes, which I set out the night before. I don’t always workout right away (more on that in a minute), but switching out of my PJs has me feeling awake and ready to DO something with my day.
Secret #4: Create Novelty When You Wake Up
One thing HUGE thing I’ve learned is that moms need novelty. I keep the same 5 things on my morning routine list everyday. But I mix the order up a bit so I don’t get bored with doing them exactly the same. Why? Because if I do one boring thing, I’m liable to fall asleep doing it!
For example, I was in the pattern of praying and reading scripture at the dining room table. After a few months, I kept falling asleep as I knelt by the chair to pray or I’d wake up with my face smashed against the table while “reading.” Obviously, I needed a change. So I moved myself to my bedroom and did these two things there instead. Something as small as a change in location makes a huge difference!
Sometimes I will workout first thing, other times I stick with prayer first. I often listen to podcasts and coaching when I’m in the shower, and it’s super easy to mix up who I listen to to keep things new and fresh.
The idea of introducing a little bit of novelty in the morning is similar to making the bed. It’s a simple but significant win for the mom brain!
Secret #5: Move Your Body
If you’re feeling groggy, one of the best things to do is to get your blood flowing and your heart pumping. I typically do my workouts at home – I’m a huge HiiT fan and also do a lot of cardio and yoga. Doing any of these, even just for 30 minutes, will work wonders to get you feeling awake.
You may be someone who loves to hit up the gym after school drop-off, but even a bit of stretching or yoga would be a great way to get past the sleepiness you may feel in the early morning hours.
Secret #6: GO TO BED
Okay, I’m gonna be super real: I STINK at this. I have for years. But I am improving. In fact, I woke up exactly 2 minutes before my 5 am alarm on my own today! While I used to easily get less than five hours of sleep a night, I’m now on the positive side of six hours a night. My goal is more, of course. (When I get this figured out, I’ll write a blog post!)
I will say that creating time for myself in the morning has really helped with going to bed earlier. I no longer have the need to fill my own bucket at the end of the day. I’ve already done it first thing in the morning, and typically in a way that’s way more fulfilling than watching TV on scrolling through social media.
Secret #7: Get an Accountability Partner
For me, this person is my husband. As a military pilot, his wake up time is typically between 4:30-5:30 am everyday. He would never do this, but I often tell him to just kick me outta the bed if I don’t get out when he does.
I love the idea of collaborating with a motivated friend who has the same goal. I have several friends who have set up accountability wake up partners and it’s been awesome for them! Whether it’s a text to make sure they’re both awake or a meeting time for a walk or gym workout, incorporating some accountability to someone else can be huge motivator to help you wake up before your kids.
Secret #8: Be Consistent
Like any new habit, getting up early takes time to feel natural. But I can tell you that IT DOES HAPPEN. Resolve to wake up before your kids everyday for the rest of this week. You may have to let go of some TV shows or scrolling on Instagram at night.
The feeling of accomplishment and peace that I feel everyday that I wake up before my kids is absolutely 100% worth it. I love my mornings so much now that they’ve become sacred to me, and I wouldn’t miss setting my alarm for just about anything.
You may be thinking, “But I’m not a morning person.” Mama, I said that once (or a thousand times) too. YOU are the ONLY person who decides what type of person you are – no one is created to be either a morning person or a night owl. Take full responsibility for your waking up habits, and you will be one step closer to making it a routine to wake up before your kids. If I can do it, you can do it.
Secret #9: Reward Yourself
If waking up before your kids is something you’ve struggled to do consistently, create a reward system for yourself! No one is too old for a sticker chart, right?! Honestly, just tracking my wake up times everyday keeps me motivated and focused on my goal. Your reward could be something as simple as a gold star on your calendar.
But especially in the beginning, don’t hesitate to choose a tangible reward for yourself as you work to establish this habit! You could treat yourself to a manicure after a few weeks of waking up before your kids, go to lunch with your wake up accountability partner, spend some alone time at a coffee shop with a new book, buy yourself some flowers, or finally purchase the new trench coat you’ve been eyeing. Making a positive life change like this definitely deserves a reward in my book!
The TWO Exceptions
Exception one: Looking back at my life as a mom, there is probably only one time that I truly didn’t have control over my life (well, five times really, but that’s because I had five babies!): as a brand new mama of a newborn. If you are here in this phase, give yourself some grace and take care of that baby AND yourself. Sleep when you need to. Don’t let your life be overly dictated by some alarm. Enjoy that baby, and treasure the moments that you have to love and care for him. Once baby starts sleeping through the night (hallelujah!), then take a look at your schedule and decide how you can wake up just a little earlier than your kids.
Exception 2: If you are a mama of a child with special needs who doesn’t or can’t sleep through the night, I feel that the same totally applies to you, my friend. Just keep doing the best that you can and know that you are seen. Your work matters, even if you feel unappreciated.
It’s Not Really About the Alarm
You may have kids who are super early risers and you’re reading this thinking, “There’s NO WAY I could ever do this!” My advice to you would be to aim to wake up just 15 to 30 minutes before your kids. Over time, you may be able to dial back your alarm a bit more. I promise, you will love the feeling of meeting your own needs for a few minutes before shifting to meet everyone else’s.
Waking up before your kids is SO MUCH more about the positivity you will feel by starting your day with intention than about the hour that you set for your alarm. Like I said before, if I can do it, you can do it too.
Which of these 9 insider secrets are you going to try?