Sleep hasn’t come easy in our house. Through the years we’ve dealt with the kid who gave up naps at 2, the kid who napped only in 45 minute increments (sometimes just 20), the kid who needed to be lovingly hug-restrained at nap time so their body could be still enough to go to sleep, the kid who woke up multiple times at night till they were 4, the kid who woke screaming in the night, the kid who woke for hours at a time in the night, the sleep-walker, the sleep-talker, and the kid who kept falling out of bed. I’m sure there have been more issues, I’m just too tired to remember them.
Now we find ourselves settling in with the fun sleep challenge of the early riser. Or in our case, early risers. Plural. And yes, we’ve tried the light-changing clock. We’ve tried dropping naps. We’ve tried changing bedtime. But what it all comes down to is that 3 of my 4 precious little souls are simply wired to be early risers.
I myself used to enjoy the early mornings. It wasn’t a hard sell for me to get out of bed before my alarm. I would go for a walk or sit outside with a cup of coffee and read before I needed to get ready for work. I was that person who woke up pleasant, ready for conversation and eager to tackle the day.
So maybe it’s my genetics to blame for these early starts to the day for my children. It seems their little bodies have settled in on a 5am wake up time. Sometimes sooner, and don’t even get me started on daylight savings time!
Depending on how the night has been, these early mornings can be super tough. Maybe you can relate. If it’s been a short night and they are up at 5, it’s all I can do to get myself upright. It’s a challenge to be pleasant and patient and start meeting all the needs when I can hardly open my eyes. I sorely miss that opportunity to start my day with a life-giving activity like walking or reading. I know this won’t last forever; soon they will be old enough to take care of themselves in the morning and I can close my eyes for a little longer. For now, though, I have to find a way to rally and get up with them.
While I can’t say I’ve solved the issue of the early riser (or more accurately, the issue of my lack of sleep and poor response to my early risers), I have found a way to make it more pleasant. Instead of fighting it, I’ve started to lean into it; I can’t control when they wake up, but I can choose when I go to bed the night before, and I can choose what I do with those wee hours in the morning.
My favorite thing to do for myself is grab a cup of coffee. The caffeine is nice, but I think more than that I appreciate the ritual and routine of it. Sometimes I have my act together enough to program the coffee pot the night before, and I wake to the smell of freshly-brewed coffee. It makes the morning so much better!
On days when I have a little more flexibility with time, I’ll make a fast and easy breakfast recipe for the family that needs to go in the oven, like an oatmeal bake or banana bread or an egg bake. I’ll mix it up, put it in the oven, then get the baby and I ready to head outside. We’ll take a little walk and sometimes catch an amazing sunrise while breakfast bakes.
When we get back home from the walk, I open the door and the delicious smell of breakfast hits me. I love that moment! It’s a mixture of pride and gratitude (and also the anticipation of a great meal!).
To be genuine and candid, there are definitely days that I can’t muster the energy or attitude to make these things happen. On those days, I turn on TV for the big kids and try to close my eyes a little longer. I usually sit in the recliner with the baby, passing him my phone to play bubble pop and praying he doesn’t call anyone or delete apps while my eyes are shut.
But when I’m in a healthy place, doing these things in the morning makes me feel like I’m living rather than just surviving. I want more of that!
So tell me, what are your tricks to make mornings happen?