My Kids Are No Longer My Alarm Clock
'And I've never been happier,' says this mom of two early-bird young children — here's her secret
When the alarm sounds, I hit snooze. I need both hands and some toes to count the number of times I’ve started and immediately stopped a morning workout routine. I even ditched coffee once, in favor of warm lemon water. It lasted a whole month, until vacation when my son decided 3:30 a.m. was a really great time to wake up. We watched sunrises together as the smell of dark roast mingled with the salt of the ocean.
I am not a morning person. Just ask my mom, who is. Our morning battles in high school left us both irritated. I really wouldn’t get out of bed until the absolute last minute.
The thing I remember from that (besides really not wanting to wake up) is this: my mom saying “I wasn’t always a morning person, you know. But once I became a mom I had to find some time to myself, and by the end of the day I was too tired. So I found it in the early morning.”
You know how they say you eventually become your mom? Transition complete.
Because I’m sitting at my desk, writing this at 5:57 a.m. (yes, coffee in hand). Without force or a fire alarm going off, I got out of bed and tiptoed into my office and started to write. Because, like my mom, it’s the only time I have. By the end of the day with a three-year-old and a one-year-old, the words don’t flow from my fingertips. And I’ve found that I have to get them out. The accumulation of not getting them out for three years was worse than the struggle of waking up before the sun.
Mornings have pleasantly surprised me. They’re quiet, in a different way than I’m used to. There’s a peace that exists in the morning, one that my mom was always telling me about, that I never felt or noticed until now. I feel a little sneaky, a little magical, a little selfish in the best possible way, about finding and grabbing a piece of the day for myself.
It’s not perfect. Sometimes I get up early only to be greeted by the sounds of my kids waking up, crying or needy, a few minutes later. During Wednesday’s early morning workout, my son sat on my head during every single ab exercise I did. Yesterday I got exactly five words written before I heard my daughter call “I hear youuuuuuuu mama.” Her bedroom is on the other side of my office. So much for tiptoeing. Do they make silent keyboards?
But I do it anyway, because I realized that I could fall back on my “not a morning person” excuse, and my “mama of two young kids excuse” and even my “I work part-time and I’m home with the kids and I’m flippin’ tired” excuse.
All valid excuses in many ways. Also just stories I tell myself.
I might never be the type of person who wakes up and hops out of bed with a pre-coffee smile. But telling myself I am not one is the quickest way to ensure I don’t ever become one. Could I be the type of person who wakes up and hops out of bed and grabs a coffee and smiles eventually — like maybe around 8am? Yes, I could be that person.
Could I be the mom who is really busy and does the things she really wants to do anyway? Who stops feeling so burdened and instead sneaks in whatever she can for herself? Yes, I could be that person.
My kids have woken up. It’s 6:35 a.m. They’re not crying … so I’m ignoring them.
Could I start writing again and revive that lost part of me that never really went away? Could I give it time and attention and space and care? Yes, please. I want to be that person.
Getting there is easy, actually, because I got so sick of not being there. First, I decided to give up all the things that I tell myself I am in favor of all the things I want to be. Sounds simple, but evolving to that mindset was hard. Once I was there, though, I was so ready.
Second, I sit in a chair on Sunday nights and plan my sacred spots of time. There are no strict rules. When I get up and what I do changes week to week, because life, work and kids change constantly. But I write it in my schedule so there is no doubt: Monday, 5 a.m.: Appointment with self; write. Tuesday, 5:30 a.m.: Workout. Shower. Breathe. Wednesday, 9 p.m.: Get into bed early because this life is exhausting and that’s OK, but when you become exhausted you are no good to yourself or others.
And I put a check mark next to each entry, too, a virtual pat on the back from me to me.
It’s imperfect and often chaotic. Even as I’m writing this, my kids have woken up. It’s 6:35 a.m. They’re not crying, so I’m ignoring them. It’s Mama’s time.
This article originally appeared in SheKnows and is used by permission. Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs tell their stories online. She’s also a mom of two.