I used to hate mornings! Like, hate them. I just feel like it’s universally rude to wake someone out of a deep dreamy slumber. You wouldn’t just go up to a stranger, shake them, and say "wake up,” (stop dreaming that you are skipping in peaceful pastures with all the animals frolicking around you, with no wrinkles on your face or bags under your eyes from lack of sleep.)
That would just be rude.
And yet it happens Every. Single. Morning.
It used to be my mom or brother waking me up for school when I was younger, or later in life when I became a first time mom and a tiny human’s scream pierced my sleeping ears because they hadn’t been fed in OVER 30 minutes, and now it’s my elementary aged children randomly appearing in the middle of the night staring at me like a straight up stalker in the pitch dark, hoping their creepy stare will make my eyes open in shock, which they always do. No matter the time in my life, there is never a time I like to be woken up.
So as you can see mornings and I have never been besties. But for the past few years, I started to take the advice begrudgingly of what every leadership guru said, “get up early, get up before your kids, it will make you happier, more productive.” Blah blah blah
And I thought each time I heard this madness, “you don’t know me….I don’t work well in the mornings. Stop trying to push your happy perky morning self on me.”
But then I tried it, and for the past year I have gotten up an hour before my kiddos, and by the powers that be, it has created happier mornings for my entire family. Who knew that not being shaken awake excessively by my children vs. being up an hour earlier and mentally prepping for the craziness that will ensue, actually does save some major stress.
My mom used to say “START and END the day on a good note with your kids.”
That means instead of screaming all these things:
get your clothes on,
stop watching TV,
yes, you have to brush your teeth,
hurry, you are going to be late.”
We do things a little calmer now.
Instead of us all leaving in a huff because of the morning yelling matches, (my kids a few times leaving in tears and me feeling guilty that I am quite possibly the WORST MOM EVER after they go into school, which also means I think the whole day, I should go to their school and give them a note, make sure they are ok, and many days that’s what I did.)
Now that guilt doesn’t manifest itself most days because we didn’t have tears that morning; instead, we traded the crying for dance parties, and cuddle time.
I have no magical recipe for making morning wake-ups and bedtimes amazing. But here are two-morning routines that changed everything for us.
I get up earlier, I know it sucks, I know most of you did not want to read that, but it is so true. I have to get up earlier than my kids. That shock of my kids shaking me awake, or the alarm going off and me knowing I have to be firing on all cylinders with the responsibility to get these tiny little humans ready without a cup of coffee being in my veins first, is not safe for anyone. For any parent to be running without caffeine in the morning is just not a good idea. This is my non-medical advice for my caffeine lovers. If you don’t need caffeine, then you are a sparkly unicorn and definitely not human. Good for you, cheering you behind my twice filled coffee cup.
I don’t let the kids use electronics before school. Yes, I said that out loud, well I wrote it, but I actually told my kids this one morning. And then they passed out!
This one was a huge one for us and was met with disdain in the beginning. Lots of whining, from both me and the kids. It would be so much easier if I caved and let them go back, BUT, I am so glad I didn’t and here is why.
I used to let the kids watch cartoons in the morning before breakfast, while I was getting breakfast ready or waking up. But what I found is that the thing we fought about and caused us the most stress was the TV. I would have to ask over and over again for them to stop watching and eat breakfast, or I would stomp over to the tv and turn it off since they weren’t listening. Then we were all frustrated. So one day I just said no more electronics before school. Period. No time limits, just nada!
Do you know what happened? My son started to come downstairs and cuddle with me. Instead of immediately bypassing me (I get up and read in my favorite chair), and heading to watch cartoons, he now comes and sits with me. He doesn’t say a word, he just wants to be near me. He’s 10 and one day he won’t do this anymore, but as of now, it’s his favorite thing too, so much so that he even started setting his alarm so he has at least 30 minutes of mom snuggles before the morning shenanigans start.
My daughter who can’t sit still for 1 minute doesn’t usually come and sit, but she gets ready for the day, dresses and gets her bag ready, quite frankly because she has nothing else better to do.
Let me say: - my kids are 7 and 10, so it’s not like I am doing this with toddlers. Sometimes TV was the saving grace back then, but in this season, turning off the tv in the mornings and me getting up early to prepare my heart for them, has changed our mornings dramatically. Tears, and rushing frustrations have been replaced with more laughter, smiles, hugs, and happy off to school moments then frazzled ones.
Start the day on a good note, I have that one down, but please tell me you can’ expect me to go into the dreaded bedtime with all the happy feelings. Cause this mama is one tired puppy come 8:00 pm
My husband travels a ton, so by the end of the night after carpool duties- to one million sports activities, making dinner, shower times, sometimes reading (if we are really on it), getting the kids to go to bed is right at the point of walking dead exhaustion. It’s the time I have nothing to give, and if my kids literally don’t fall into peaceful slumber in 1.2 seconds, and I don’t get to go downstairs and sit down (which is the only time in 12 hours I have actually put my butt in a seat), I will turn into a monster. The patience is gone, the “can I get a drink of water mom, will you rub my leg mom, I had a bad dream mom, starts to give me hives.”
But if I can get my mindset right, that for just 5 MORE minutes, I am going to tickle my son’s back after our nightly prayers, or I am going to say my daughter’s phrase we say over her every night:
She was created by God’s hands, Dreamed up in His heart and placed in this world for a purpose, and give her an extra Eskimo kiss without rushing, they go to bed with smiles, and so do I.
So whatever you have to do, try to start the day and end the day with a smile. I know this will be different for different families, and different seasons of life. I would love to hear how you all do this with different age kids. Because quite frankly sometimes it feels like it's a win if we keep these tiny humans alive today, much less smiling-alive- humans. But I promise, if I can do something as awful as getting up early, you can DO ANYTHING. Seriously, anything!
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