From Night Owl to Early Riser

.wake up early

When I was a sophomore in college, I spent a week as a nanny/mother’s helper for a large group of friends having an annual summer get-together. One evening after all the kids were in bed, my co-nanny and I discovered all the moms in the kitchen making s’mores in the microwave. (I totally get this now that I’m a mom.) I remember saying I was worried about having kids of my own because I’m not a morning person and kids seem to have the obnoxious habit of rising early. The universal response was that after a while your internal clock changes until you naturally become a morning person.

LIES. LIES. LIES.

At the time it made sense, but now after six years of having a human alarm clock in my house, I can confirm that this is not the case for all of us.

In the beginning, you have a newborn that wakes at all manner of unusual times and you really have no options. Maternal instinct kicks in and you drag yourself out of bed because you have no choice. Then they get a little older, and if you have a generous husband who will take the occasional morning shift (or a rockstar like mine who does it frequently), you’re not forced to greet the sun every day. Then they start going to bed at a normal hour and suddenly the evening hours are wide open. For a night owl like me, this is the root of the problem.

It doesn’t matter how tired I am or how I can barely keep my eyes open while I’m reading Fancy Nancy for the hundredth time. As soon as the last door closes with my sleeping babies safely tucked in their beds, my second wind kicks in. My body says, “I’m tired.” But my brain says, “I’m free! I’m free! The world is my oyster! I can do whatever I want!” I should listen to my body and go to bed, but somehow watching three episodes of The Good Wife sounds like a better option at the time.

Apparently, some people don’t require a lot of sleep to be productive and pleasant during the day. I’m not one of those people. I need about 7-8 hours of sleep in order to function like a person. I also have an early riser in my house so staying up until midnight doesn’t work in my favor unless my husband is getting up with the kids the next day. So how do I get a little time to myself AND enough sleep?

The plain and simple truth is that my day starts off better when I can greet the morning on my own. This means going to bed earlier is a necessity. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and I go through dips when I’m not sticking to it. Over this past school year, I made a conscious effort to prioritize waking early. Being a morning person still doesn’t sit well, but at this stage in life it really works better for my family.

3 Tricks for waking up early

1. Don’t hit the snooze button.

I’m better at this some days than others, but it really is helpful. The more you prolong it, the more waking up feels like a chore instead of a choice. And really that extra seven minutes isn’t that beneficial.

2. Splash cool water on your face.

It’s so simple, but this really does help me break out of the groggy state and wake up.

3. Eat or drink something you enjoy.

I never used to drink coffee but I started last fall when I embarked on the process of waking early. Now I enjoy that first cup of coffee so much that it actually motivates me to get out of bed. Truthfully, coffee is just a vehicle for that delicious goodness called coffee creamer (and yes it’s full of sugar and crap- don’t judge me.)

Lately I’ve been succumbing to the lazy mornings of summer (if you call getting up at 7am lazy) and not setting an alarm at all. Some days it feels nice, but a lot of times I end up feeling a tad resentful when my human alarm clocks start going off. And you know they don’t come with a snooze button! I need to get back in the early morning habit. What better way to hold myself accountable than to tell other people?! Give it a try yourself. You might just start to enjoy it.

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