…and then I had kids.
Okay, so that’s not quite true. I continued to get up early until the twins were born. Honestly, until my second child was able to free himself from his bed, mornings were still enjoyable. Get up, grab a cup of coffee, do a couple house chores and get a bit of work done. It was lovely, and I enjoyed my “Me Time,” and my peace and quiet.
You see, my oldest child takes after her father. They would probably stay in bed all day. When she did wake up, she was always content to play quietly in her room until I came to get her. My second child? Not so much. Even as an infant he would wake with me for the day around 5am. I didn’t mind it when he was a baby, he’d snuggle or play quietly. As a toddler, he shared a room with big sis and she was great at keeping him entertained for a bit.
Shortly after he turned two and the twins were born, we moved him to a toddler bed and that was the end of my peaceful mornings. It’s been nearly two years and I’ve spent them trying to do everything in my power to get this child to stay in his room so I can get my quiet time. I’ve gotten up earlier, bribed him, you name it. Nothing works. He’s a morning person like his Mama…
…or like his Mama used to be.
With our oldest starting Kinder this past fall, mornings became hectic and stressful for me. I like mornings, but there is nothing like a preschooler demanding attention, two toddlers woken and wanting loose from their cribs, and a six-year-old who needs constant prodding to get ready for school. Not to mention having to feed them breakfast, get them dressed and make sure hubby didn’t sleep through his alarms. I’m pretty sure I was NOT a fun person during our adjustment period this past fall.
5 Simple Ways to Take Back Your Mornings!
1) Get organized. – Okay, now don’t make this harder than it needs to be, but make sure the things that need to be located quickly in the morning all have a home that makes sense to everyone in your household. For us this means a landing area in our entryway. All shoes, jackets, seasonal gear, backpacks, etc go there as soon as we come in the door. No exceptions. It helps avoid the “I can’t remember where I took my shoes off!” and “I need my gloves because the bus will be here in ONE MINUTE!”
2) Have an evening routine. – I have to admit this might have been the hardest one for us. We fell into a really bad habit of letting our oldest do her homework each morning. The 4pm-8pm block of time in our house is insane with her getting home, three kids getting up from nap, Daddy trying to spend time with them, getting dinner on the table, and getting everyone in bed. But seriously, adding that half-page worksheet or reading book that got longer and longer to our already hectic morning was a TERRIBLE idea. Once we got in the habit of squeezing it into the evening routine, my mornings got a lot smoother. And if it helps your child, have them lay out their clothes the night before. This was something we haven’t had to do because we already simplified our children’s clothing. Outfits are hung together on hangers with clips so it’s quick for her to grab and get dressed. If your child is indecisive, this may not work so well and they may need to go through that process in the evening.
3) Get help when you can. – My husband is NOT a morning person. Never has been, never will be. Sometimes I question how he ever survived Basic Training. Seriously. At one point I tried to drag him into getting up and helping in the morning, but it just made everyone more miserable. He really can’t focus on much more than getting himself ready and out the door in the mornings. So instead I enlist his help at night. We figured out that things that make a difference for me in the morning are walking into a clean kitchen and having things ready to go in the morning. So aside from helping with dinner, homework and getting kids in bed, he makes a point to help me clean up the kitchen and make sure the playroom is tidied up (it’s the converted dining room). This also ensures his lunch is ready to go for the next day which makes his morning easier.
4) Get better sleep. – I haven’t managed going to bed early or shutting off the screens an hour before bed (which are proven to work wonderfully for improving sleep), but I love using Gentle Sleep Complex. On nights I take it, I fall asleep quicker, sleep deeper and almost always wake up feeling well-rested before my alarm goes off. Those mornings are always noticeably smoother than ones without.
5) Create simple morning expectations. – We use a morning chart in the hallway and it works great. And yes, all the magnets used to be pretty, but…twin toddler terrors, lol. It’s great that my kindergartner can check and see for herself what she needs to do next rather than asking 15 million times. The key is having it at her height in the center of the area that her morning revolves around. For us that’s the hallway between her room, the bathroom, and the kitchen.
6) Give yourself some grace. – Mornings are a struggle for most people. Especially people with small people who need care and attention first thing in the morning. Even those of us who used to love and cherish the early morning hours. It can also be a struggle for those little people. Sometimes we all need to walk to another room, take a deep breath, and maybe not worry that they missed ONE day of homework.