Inside: Moms are encouraged to wake up before their kids to fit in their morning routine that will make their days run more smoothly. But what if you really can’t wake up early?
Updated December 29, 2019 to include edits to this morning routine.
Mom bloggers are big on having an early morning routine, and the supposed benefits of such a routine are so stinking attractive and convincing.
“It will change your life,” they say. “You accomplish so much before your kids wake up, and you set up your day for success!” they say.
But what if you can’t? What if you’re just too tired?
I haven’t slept through the night in six years. I’ve been on the pregnant/nursing/pregnant cycle for eight years now, and I plan to stay on it as our family grows. I tried hard to train my body to wake up early, but I finally quit.
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On the subject of quitting
Quitting has a bad rap in our society. We glorify people who persevere at things, sometimes to the point of stupidity.
Quitting can be just as worthy of fame as perseverance.
When we quit, we say “no” to something that is just not working, and will never work for us.
Quitting makes room for something new.
We only have so much time. Why spend it failing over and over again, when the best choice is to work with your present circumstances instead of against them?
I tried to get up early, and I tried some more. Each day I pressed snooze on my alarm, I felt more guilty, and more like a failure.
I desperately asked over and over, “But what if your baby isn’t sleeping through the night yet? What if you just need more sleep?” My query to all those moms preaching the benefits of an early morning routine seemed to fall on deaf ears.
They meant well, but I don’t think they quite knew what to do with me because I never received a satisfying response. The common one was, “Of course you shouldn’t attempt to cultivate the habit of waking up early until your kids are a little older.”
So if you plan on having a kid every other year until you’re done having kids, you should just….wait twelve years?
The ones shouting the praises of early morning routines are doing so because it truly works for them, and they want to share it with the world. They just want to help. That’s awesome! But they offer no alternative for those of us who will need more sleep for the foreseeable future.
Scientists and doctors regularly share the negative effects of limited and interrupted sleep on our physical and emotional health. I felt them myself just last night: inability to focus, complete exhaustion, extreme emotions, and poor future outlook.
I now choose sleep, guilt-free.
When you wake up with your kids
1) Put on a show.
The baby or my second child wakes me up.
If it’s an older child, I’ll put on Wild Kratts, Magic School Bus, or other educational show for whoever is awake.
If it’s the baby, she will generally play quietly for 30-45 minutes after she eats.
Don’t be afraid to use media as a tool. Money is a tool, but it can be used for good or for bad.
Media is the same way, and I have personally vowed to stop reading about how much media is damaging our kids. If you’re stressing about it in the first place, your kid is probably going to turn out o.k.
Think carefully about how you want to use media, how it can help you be a better mom, and what your general limits are.
2) Get food, drink and vitamins.
For years, I used to skip breakfast and just drink coffee. That did NOT set me up for a successful morning with my kids.
Prioritize food and drink first thing in the morning, or else you probably won’t get to it. You already know this, but life with little kids is hectic.
If you forget, by the time you realize you’re hungry, your irritability could derail your whole day.
I start by turning on the Keurig. I eat overnight oatmeal and take my vitamins (switching to these ones make me want to take my vitamins – what am I, a little kid?!) while I wait for my coffee.
I also work a glass of water in before my first cup of coffee or before my second cup.
Whatever you’re preferred food and beverage, make time!
3) Time for Reflection
This part is what all those moms who swear by getting early rave about: quiet time in all its forms. But I believe you can still get similar benefits to those who get up before their kids (you just may have Wild Kratts in the background).
For me, quiet time looks like drinking my coffee, reading my Bible, journaling, listening to music, or praying.
For you? Whatever refreshes you and gets you in a good mindset for you day.
It might be reading a book, just enjoying a few minutes of quiet thought, listening to calming music, or looking over your parenting goals.
It took me a LONG time to let go of my ideal exercise: running outside.
The reality is that 10-15 minutes on the elliptical in the family room is much more practical with babies and young children.
And I actually do it.
It also doesn’t require me relying on my husband to watch the kids – another barrier to making exercise happen.
5) Put in a load of laundry.
Laundry is crazy around here with now seven people in our family. Even with capsule wardrobes, I do at least two loads a day, sometimes three.
Switching over anything from the washer and getting in a new load in the morning keeps me from getting behind.
And getting behind when you have five kids? It can be a serious problem.
6) Shower & Dress
Make sure any tiny ones are either safe with older children or in a bouncy seat in the bathroom with you.
Take a 2-minute shower (or longer if time allows, but I don’t count on it) and get dressed.
You can absolutely choose to stay in your comfy clothes. For me, there’s something about getting dressed that totally changes my outlook on life.
The whole day can be the worst ever, and yet I’m showered and dressed, so there’s something.
7) Tidy the Upstairs.
There’s something about starting the day tidying something in my house, no matter how small, that jump starts my tidying habits the rest of the day.
I turn off the TV, and get breakfast for the kids.
Next, I tidy the bathroom and our bedroom while they eat (except I don’t make the bed…ever), mostly putting laundry in the correct hampers. The bathroom in our new place is tiny, so anything on the floor makes it feel extremely crowded and messy.
Use this as a template, and make your own routine based on what works for you and what you need in the morning.
For every mom who simply can’t get up early, you can have a morning routine even when you wake up with your kids.
Stop feeling guilty: you’re not superwoman. You’re just a mom, taking care of [lots of] tiny humans, who just needs a little more sleep.
P.S. A good morning routine starts at night. Crystal Paine has three kids, is an entrepreneur who runs two blogs which support her family.
She credits her ability to “do it all” (though of course no mom actually does) to a solid morning and evening routines.
Her evening routine course is one of her most popular courses! You can check it out HERE.