I am not a morning person. I am a world-champion sleeper.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who got up early and exercised and read the paper and got ready for the day and cooked breakfast before anyone else was up. That sounded so amazing. But not amazing enough to get my butt out of bed.
As I’ve gotten older, and especially since having kids, my wake up time has gotten progressively earlier. Over the past five years, I’ve had a collective two years of waking up early and working out, but could never sustain that habit for more than 3 or 4 months because, well, I love my bed. I’d just resigned to the fact that I will always be that person who wakes up about 10 minutes after she needs to – and that it will not be before 6AM.
Late this fall, I decided that I needed to work out more often and that the best way to do that was to try Body Pump at our local YMCA. The class was offered three times a day, but the only time that worked in our family’s schedule was 5:30 AM. I use the word “worked” very loosely here.
I came home and mentioned it to my husband, who was, predictably, very encouraging and told me to do it. It’s easy to tell someone else that they should get out of bed at 5 AM. He said “Try it for one week. What do you have to lose?”. (Sleep is the answer to that question, but I didn’t say it. Out loud.)
So I tried it. I got up at 5AM on Monday morning and went to Body Pump. I yawned through the whole thing, but I was there, so I called it a win. And I got up at 5AM the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
By Thursday morning, it felt different. It felt better. I was as shocked as anyone.
I’ve been a morning person for a little over a month, and I don’t know if there’s any going back.
How I Talked Myself Into Being a Morning Person
1 – Recognize that I hate getting out of bed, no matter what time it is, so I might as well do it at 5AM.
It’s not any easier at 10AM than it is at 5AM. And the action is an unavoidable piece to the day, so do it at 5AM and get it over with.
2 – Get Up Early Everyday – Not Just the Days that I Had To
This was my husband’s idea. I’ve tried waking up early before – and by early I mean 6AM, none of this lunacy 5AM business – but only on the days that I was going to work out early. I haven’t been able to sustain that schedule for more than a few months. Josh suggested that it might be easier to get up at 5AM if I got my body into some kind of cycle by doing it every day.
It sounded a little crazy to me, but the reverse hasn’t worked so it was worth trying his crazy plan.
3 – Gave Myself An Incentive for that Early Morning Time
Body Pump is only on Monday, Wednesdays & Fridays. Being done with my workout by 6:15AM is incentive enough for me to get out of bed on those days.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, when I have nowhere to be at 5:30AM, my incentive to get out of bed is time alone to read my devotional and study the Bible. I get up, brush my teeth, make my coffee and grab my books. I sit in our cozy recliner and have uninterrupted time to set my heart and my mind on what I need for the day. I’m a better mom, wife, friend and person because of this time.
I also check off a few of the day’s To-Do list items that can be done quickly when I’m not interrupted.
4 – Adjust My Schedule To Get Enough Sleep
Unequivocally, the hardest part of this new lifestyle is the early bedtime. I need 8 hours of sleep. This is non-negotiable. Do the math. A 5AM wake up time requires being asleep by 9PM. That’s early. There’s no getting around that.
When I first considered this, my two hesitations were: 1) I don’t want to get up that early, and 2) Going to bed that early means giving up the little bit of time I have with my husband. I felt like we barely had any time, just the two of us, when I went to bed at 10:30, because of everything that needed to get done after putting the kids to bed.
What I’ve discovered is that the ‘getting stuff done’ time that used to follow putting the kids to bed has now shifted to before they wake up in the morning and after they finish breakfast. Those blocks of time used to be filled with my sleeping or trying to get ready for the day, but since that’s all complete well before the children wake up, I now have everything done before the kids go to bed.
We are fortunate in that our children are in bed by 7PM, so even with getting ready for bed at 8:30, I still have a good amount of time sandwiched between their bedtime and mine. And that time now belongs to Josh and me. Not my To-Do list.
Our time together has grown in quality and quantity since I became a morning person. This has absolutely been an unintended consequence, but one for which makes getting out of bed at 5AM worth it if it were the only consequence.
5 – Just Tried It
Again, the credit for this goes to my husband. His suggestion to try it for a week gave me the freedom to not feel committed to something (because, by feeling committed, I would feel like I failed if I didn’t follow through with it) and just see how it worked. It’s easier than I thought it would be. And I could have NEVER guessed that that would be true. The only way to learn it was to try it.
All but one of the benefits of being a morning person that I mentioned earlier were not things I ever considered. I only learned them by doing it.
There’s a domino effect that occurs in our family when I get up early. My morning task list includes:
- Workout/Computer work (depending on the day of the week)
- Make my bed
- Make Coffee
- Set our vitamins
- Do my devotions
- Start breakfast
When breakfast is ready for the kids when they get up, they finish eating their breakfast earlier. When they finish eating their breakfast earlier, they are finished getting dressed earlier. When they are finished getting dressed earlier, they have more time to play with Dad before he leaves for work (and I can start my daily cleaning task, which is what I do while the kids play with their Dad).
The success of our day is directly correlated to how much quality time the kids have with their Dad in the morning. I can’t explain it, but I have scientific data to prove it. (That data, in case you’re curious, is the number of plea for help texts I send Josh through the day).
When I start my cleaning task earlier, I’m finished with it by the time Josh leaves for work, which means when Dad leaves, I get to jump in and play with the kids right away.
My kids’ day started with a family meal together and quality time with both of their parents. This was possible because I got out of bed early. If that doesn’t make a 5AM wake up call worth it, I don’t know what does.
Try it. For one week. What do you have to lose? (Don’t say sleep.)
P.S. Read about more time management tricks here