Before I implemented some new strategies, my mornings were jump-started with rambunctious toddlers flinging sippy cups in my face. I'd hide under the covers, hoping they'd miraculously go back to sleep. Then, I'd chug my coffee directly from the pot while frantically trying to catch up with my little ones. See, I'm a late-night person. I love the quiet hours after bed time when there are no interruptions.
Prior to my new habits, I'd be coming out of my sleep coma as I slid half-burnt toast to my zippy and happy children. Now, I have a routine that really helps me win the morning race. Here's what I do. I hope it helps every parent out there who likes to stay up late but gets dragged out of bed by their eager babies.
Here are seven steps to wake up happier than your kids.
Step One: Set an Alarm
I know, I know. Not the best news you wanted to read, BUT one thing I know is my children are always up around the same time - 7 a.m. I can basically count on it. Set your alarm 10 to 15 minutes earlier. If I can get up, grab a couple gulps of coffee and merely be upright before mine are awake, I'm partly ahead of the game! Think of this as war. It's a war for sanity and you need to win. Make yourself emerge from the bed just a little before your children normally wake up and you will feel loads better when they do.
Step Two: 5-Minute Countdown
Five minutes before you get in bed each night, or start your personal free-time, get things ready for the morning. When you become parents, it's amazing what you can accomplish in five minutes. When I think of everything I need to do, I get overwhelmed and I don't do it. When I tell myself to do as much as I can in five minutes, I become a rock star. For me, I like to wake up with the kitchen clean, my coffee mug ready and toys cleared. This is what I do for five minutes. I get the dishes out of the sink, counters wiped off, clutter hidden and toys in bins. This helps my mornings tremendously and I wake up feeling much more energized.
Step Three: Look At Your Phone First Thing
I know this sounds odd, but it helps me wake up by checking some news, Facebook or reading scripture. It gets my mind working and thinking. If you have some morning reading you can do to help encourage your mind into a quiet peace, do it. My phone has all my email, social media, news and spiritual reading on it, as well as my alarm, so it's a natural move for me. This also helps me feel less tempted to "see what happened in the world" while my children are running circles around me. Just take a minute to skim your reading list, so you can move forward feeling more like an adult, rather than childcare provider.
I know this sounds so simple, yet so many people skip this step in the morning. They sip their coffee, forgetting you actually use a lot of water in your sleep and your body needs it first thing. In a nutshell, water increases the flow of oxygen to your blood and muscles, and that's one of the most basic steps to getting energy.
Step Five: Stretch and Move
I never used to move much in the morning. I liked to catch up on emails or hop on my laptop to take care of a few things before the day flew by. Now, I spend a few minutes - maybe five to seven minutes - stretching and doing some light moving. I wrestle with my kids a little, maybe chase them around and do some lunges or squats around the house in my slippers and pajamas. It's not really what I want to do, but it provides a tremendous amount of energy. Do you know how many experts tell us to move and stretch first thing in the morning? I finally decided to make myself do it and I am so glad I did.
Step Six: Tell Your Children A Story
This is a good one. Sitting with my coffee and interacting with my children in a way that keeps them still allows me to gather myself and manage their energy. My boys like to hear stories. They behave and play better after I've spent some time directly interacting with them. Previously, I would putter around picking things up, aimlessly wandering from room to room keeping disasters and wild monkey-children at bay. Now, I structure this time to give them the attention they crave. If your children aren't fans of story time or books, try playing a simple game like stacking blocks or coloring. The goal is to manage their early morning energy into something productive, which actually calms them down so you can catch up.
We all know kids have no clue what a weekend is. They think every day is as exciting as Friday. So as parents, we need to keep our routine. A routine helps get your body into a rhythm, so you're ready to wake up before your alarm goes off. When that happens, you know you're doing something right.
These seven steps have really improved my mornings. I'm not perfect, and some mornings I get the covers ripped away from me too early or I jump out of bed to the sound of kids running and jumping on couches. But, I have found that more mornings than not, I've been able to start with more energy than all three of my boys combined, which is a huge win in my book.
Katie blogs her way through motherhood over at Joyful Messes. She believes that pursuing joy and sharing motherhood, even in the messiest of moments, is part of the higher calling. You can find her writing on postpartum life, fitness, health, joy, parenting and anything else that falls under the "momlife" category.