I have a confession to make: For years, I was that mom who screeched into the school parking lot one minute before the bell rang. No sooner had my kids stepped foot into their classrooms when the morning’s pledge of allegiance began. Consequently, they had no time to take a breath or find a seat or feel prepared for the day.
Like a lot of moms with young kids, I valued sleep, and I didn’t get very much of it. And, as a way to compensate for many interrupted nights of sleep when my children were infants, I began to let their morning cries to get out of their crib become my alarm clock. I got them up, took care of whatever pressing needs they had, and then tried to get myself and them dressed simultaneously. (This should be an Olympic sport!) We would eat a hurried breakfast, and, on occasion, it would be a cereal bar in the car (gasp!). I would impatiently plead with them in our driveway to “Hurry up, we’re going to be late,” and then, not a few minutes later, I would soothingly say outside of their classroom, “Have a great day! I love you.” I was a Jekyll and Hyde juxtaposition of a mother, and I didn’t like how our mornings made me and my children feel.
A couple of years ago, I finally decided that something had to change. The extra minutes of sleep were not worth the hectic morning scramble. It’s all well and good when you’re in the trenches during the infant stage with three-hour sleep cycles and nursing or feeding around the clock; you need all the rest you can find! But, when my kids reached preschool (and even the first year of elementary school, I confess), and I was still in this pattern. It was time for a different kind of morning.
So, I set my own alarm clock. I decided to find something that would motivate me to get out of bed. For a while, I jogged early in the morning, and, later, changed to an early morning exercise class. I did something for me and my body and health as a way to start the day. I then had ample time for some quiet moments to myself, time to prepare a quick breakfast for my family, even do a load of laundry that I was too tired to do the night before. I woke up the kids earlier so that they had plenty of time for their morning routines (and I finally accepted the fact that kids need way more time than you think to do almost everything in the morning).
We went from manic mornings to mindful ones, in which we have time to get ready, time to eat breakfast, time to take a breath. We have conversations with each other, even a daily brief devotional sentence or two, and we have a buffer of time in case anything unexpected comes up. Our mornings are not perfect, but they are decidedly better.
If you are still in the manic mode and dream of a different start to your day, this is within your reach! Find something that you love to do and do it first thing – early – in the morning. Exercise (stretch, walk, yoga), meditate (pray, breath exercises, listen to music), and sip (coffee, tea, warm water with lemon). Take a shower when all is quiet or enjoy a silent house before everyone wakes up. You can look at your to-dos but not for too long. Decrease your time on getting sucked into screens, be it social media or a television news program.
You can do this. I did it, and I have definitely never been a morning person. But, for this season of my life, I am going to bed and getting up earlier, enjoying a calmer start to each day.