With the birth of my third son came the return of middle-of-the-night feedings, making sleep rare and valuable. To ensure I soaked up every possible minute of sleep, my husband woke up with our older two boys and fed them breakfast. My typical morning began when my husband nudged me awake right before he left for work.
Once awake I dragged my body down the stairs to the onslaught of requests: more milk, pour a different cereal, change the channel, and clean up recently poured, now spilled milk. Within 10 minutes of getting out of bed my patience fizzled, leaving a mixture of harsh and groggy responses.
My thoughts turned inward, “How can they ask for more breakfast when I haven’t even eaten my breakfast? Don’t they care about my needs?” Soon my grouchy mood rubbed off on my boys and by lunch we were a pretty miserable crew.
Maximizing my mornings…
I didn’t like the mother I had become. What would our future looked like if I continued to live my life reacting instead of planning ahead and preparing for my day? During this difficult season of motherhood, a friend gently encouraged me to check out a website (www.inspiredtoaction) and an eBook (“Maximize your Mornings”). Given my desperation, I read through the book in one sitting.
Based on some ideas in the book, I started waking up just 5 minutes before my boys. Since we’ve worked hard to have the boys to stay in their room until the clock reads 7:00 a.m., my wake-up time was easy choose. Setting my alarm for 6:55 a.m. didn’t seem too challenging. During those 5 minutes I followed Kat’s suggestions: read a few verses in the Bible, say a brief prayer, complete push-ups for 30 seconds and sit-ups for 30 seconds, then glance at my calendar.
Only five minutes less of sleep transformed the entire direction of my day.
You see my boys have strong personalities. They can smell weakness a mile away. When I rolled out of bed and attempted to take charge, we all knew I wasn’t up for the challenge. It’s hard to lead from behind.
But given those 5 minutes I started one step ahead of my boys. Having spent time in God’s Word (even just a minute) gave me truth to dwell on throughout the day. A momentary prayer dedicated my day to God’s purpose instead of worrying about my needs and my plans.
Attempting to be patient by will power alone was impossible. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to be filled with the Spirit required time on my knees in surrender.
A minute of exercise seems pathetic to a hard-core athlete. But to a mom of three young children a minute of sit-ups and push-ups was better than zero minutes. Every athlete has to start somewhere.
For the past two years I have joined the #hellomornings (official twitter hashtag) community waking up early. “Waking up for my children instead of to my children”. (particularly during the hard months of pregnancy with our fourth son & through those months of interrupted sleep with a newborn). Slowly over those two years I’ve moved my wake-up time to 5:30 or 6:00 (depending on when I go to bed…).
If you are entering 2013 exhausted, feeling constantly behind or overwhelmed by your children, consider joining me in waking up before the demands of the day rush at you. Even just five minutes a day can make a difference.
Interested? Here are my tips for waking up early:
- Check out the HelloMornings website and subscribe to get regular posts via email.
- Read the “Maximize your Mornings” eBook…quick read I promise!
- Sign up for a Twitter or Facebook HelloMornings group (registration starts today, January 16th, the winter challenge begins January _______)
- Don’t lose sleep. A sleep-deprived mommy is a grumpy mommy. Go to bed five minutes earlier. (As you wake up earlier and earlier, go to bed earlier and earlier. Set a “go to bed” alarm if you need one.)
- Designate a “spot” for your morning. I have a leather chair. Kat created a “mom cave” in her closet. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Just a place you can wake up, mindlessly find your Bible, journal, calendar without wasted time.
- Give yourself grace. There will be mornings you sleep in. Just try again the next day. Sleep in on the weekends. Whatever works for you and your family.