If you are a parent, you know that mornings are usually anything but relaxing.
Little bodies wake up FULL of energy and before you can blink you’ve lost your cool, your house is chaotic, and your duty of meeting needs all day has begun.
What if I told you, by inserting a small buffer of time between your wake up and your kids wake up, you could add peace to your day and overall health and growth to your home?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of Mother-Martyrdom or Paternal Peril and just stop taking care of yourself once kids arrive. Believe me, I get it. It’s an all-consuming calling. But you don’t have to put your wellness on pause until your kids are grown and married. As you’re busy cultivating a place for your children to thrive, you’ve gotta give yourself a place to grow too.
Physically: Are you eating food that fuels you and moving to keep your energy up?
Mentally: Are you learning something new?
Emotionally: Are you shedding stress out of your life?
Spiritually: Are you growing in your faith journey?
Wait, Abby… I thought this blog was about mornings? It is! By simply focusing on one or all of these areas a little each morning you’ll be amazed at how much more empowered and energized you’ll be as a parent (and just a person at that!)
Here are three ways to guard your “me-morning time” as a parent. The name of the game is to wake up before your kids — not because of your kids — so you have time to grow before your day goes.
1. Set yourself up for success the night before.
Set a 15 min or 30 min timer before you “kerplop” for the night, as my mom says, and do a few things to set your future you up for success.
Pre-program the coffee pot
Load the dishwasher
Have prepped backpacks and diaper bags ready by the door.
Set the table for breakfast
Have a master calendar in the kitchen and reference it the night before for tomorrow’s activities.
This will set the tone for peace and eliminate the temptation to get up to “get things done”. The most productive thing you can do is give yourself time for you.
2. Create an age-appropriate time for kids to come out of their room.
Creating an “Okay-To-Wake” time gives you a chance to set a baseline for your alarm and have your me-time before they get up.
If your kid is under one year old, you’ve gotta roll with the punches. Whatever time they wake up, it’s your wake up. You can try to set alarms around them, but honestly, the only predictable thing about baby sleep is that once you find a rhythm the beat changes again. So for this age you’ve gotta be okay with “me + mini-me-time.” (This is usually fine since they can play on blankets or bouncers.)
After that 12 month mark though, they are fully capable of waiting in their room or crib a few minutes after waking up. For instance, I know some parents that have their kids stay in their actual crib/bed until it’s “Okay-to-Wake.” Other parents with older children allow them to have quiet play time in their room until it’s time to come out. This must ebb and flow with your family values and culture. If they sleep later, great – more time for you. Let them sleep. The “Okay-to-Wake” or “Okay-to-Leave” boundary is to prevent pitter-patter feet waking you up one day at 5am and then the next at 6:15am and then the next…. you get the picture.
Now this doesn’t mean you lock your kids in their room until 10am so you can sleep in! But finding their natural wake-up time and tacking on 15-20 min is actually healthy. It’s good to teach kids delayed gratification. And it’s good to give them a value for “alone time.”
“Abby, there’s no way that’d work. They’d never stay in their room/crib.”
Start with making them wait 5 minutes after they wake up, then 10, then 15. Give them a clock of some sort (more on that below), set the expectation, explain the consequence if that expectation is broken, then stand firm. You are the parent. This is simply a boundary. (Obviously this is my opinion. Follow your own parental convictions).
For you it may sound like :
When the light is green, Mama will knock on your door and get you out of bed. If the light is red, it’s still rest time.
If you wake up before our “Okay-to-Leave” time you may read or play quietly in your room.
You may go to the bathroom if you need to but then back to your room until 7:00am when we start our day.
If you can’t follow these expectations, the consequence will be ______ to help you remember the rules of our home.
Here are four different tools you can use:
We use this “Hatch” with Oliver. It was his white noise machine when he was a baby. Now it’s his “Okay to Wake” clock. If it’s orange, it’s still sleep time, if it’s green that means mom or dad will come get him soon.
Very popular is this “Little Hippo” one.
A classic is this “Stoplight” Clock
If your child tells time, a normal clock they can see in the dark works just fine. A quick amazon search and you’ll find lots of options.
3. Your morning me-time has to happen before kids are up or it won’t happen at all.
So whatever that “Okay To Wake” time is, rewind it as long you need for you, and set the alarm for that time.
For me I need about one hour for my 4 pillars in this season:
– Silent Sips
– Sustenance (aka. breakfast… but for the sake of alliteration, sustenance it is)
These keep me healthy all around and set me up to be the best version of me for the day.
Give yourself some space to read, eat, workout, learn, side hustle… whatever it is… truly a little will add so much to your life and your home culture in a positive way.
Happy rising and shining – you’ve got this!
*Don't Forget... The Cirkles are cheering you on!
This blog was written as a collab for my brother Peter's blog, but I wanted it to have a home in my archives as well. Peter has great content and helpful resources. Follow him at peterburchfield.com!