Back in my wild and free days (also known as, my twenties), my morning routine looked something like this:
- Wake up with the sun, usually around 6:15 AM.
- Grumpily roll over to the other side of the bed to avoid the sun.
- Sleep-ish for another 20 minutes.
- Get up.
- Close curtains.
- Sleep until 9:15 AM.
It was heavenly.
My twenty-year-old self thought I was doing pretty good by getting up so “early” (oh twenties…you’re so youthful and naive…)
Now that I’ve hit my thirties and have a bouncing baby boy to change, dress, feed, and entertain all before 7:00 AM, the routine looks totally different.
Even though I thought I was a “morning person” (I absolutely loved breakfast, watching TV in my pajamas, and laying in bed for an hour), having a kid made my mornings wilder, more fun, chaotic…and exhausting.
I found that my mornings started to be less enjoyable.
No matter how hard I tried, my brain just wouldn’t turn on before my kid started yelling from his crib, usually around 7:00 AM.
I had to pry my eyelids open every morning.
My body felt sluggish, tired, and unusable.
I laid in bed and scrolled through Facebook and Instagram every morning (while I waited until the last possible minute to get my child up) because they were the only thing that helped me wake up.
I so badly wanted to wake up early, have my morning coffee, work on my passion, and have a stress-free start to the day, but I was too busy sleeping to get any of that done!
It was ridiculous.
Not only was I trudging through my morning routine, but I was also discouraged about all the things I didn’t get done because I was so tired.
My routine was based entirely on willpower…which let’s be real: I have very little willpower nowadays.
It just wasn’t working.
Sleeping became more of a nuisance than a respite.
I tried going to bed later, in an effort to try and get more done during the day (that lasted for about three days before I collapsed into bed right after I put the kiddo to sleep at 7:00 PM.)
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t force myself to wake up early and get my life going.
Until something changed.
How to Become an Early Riser
There’s evidence all over the internet about why most successful people wake up early, but they never tell you why they’re waking up early.
Sure, they tell you all kinds of wake-up-early benefits like:
- Conquer the day
- Get more stuff done
- Have more “me” time
- Keep a cleaner house
- Become less stressed
- Have more time to work on your projects
- Get your day organized early
And so on.
But none of those things are as good as sleeping in. None of them.
Sleeping-in is the hero to the wake-up-early villain.
And while different ages do need different amounts of sleep, I had a toddler at home who kept my schedule for me – I was almost always chronically under-rested.
So for a while, I struggled to find a good reason to leave the cozy warmth of my fluffy bed.
There just wasn’t anything as good as drowning in warm blankets…
Until one morning something terrible happened that changed my entire routine for me.
My dogs decided 5:30 AM was a good time for breakfast…and wouldn’t let it go.
Step One: Find Something That Will Force You Out of Bed
For an entire month both my Yorkies, who had been getting up to eat around 6:30 AM, decided that 5:30 AM was a better time to eat.
And I could do nothing to change their minds.
I begged and pleaded, scolded, and shut them out of our room, but nothing was going to stop them from getting breakfast before the sun…
These two animals wanted to wake up early and decided I had to wake up early with them.
Step Two: Physically Remove Yourself From the Room
Since my dogs decided to party early, I had no choice but to start feeding them early so I could go back to sleep (or so I thought.)
The process of getting them food required me to:
- Actually remove myself from my bed
- Leave the room
- Go to the kitchen
- Measure out food
- Feed them
- Let them out to pee
- Bring them back in
- And take them back upstairs before I could even get back into bed.
This was awful for my plans to carry on sleeping, but did help me wake up early.
Having to walk across my bedroom made my brain and body shake off the urge to sleep.
And measuring out food so early in the morning forced my mind to calculate something, which woke me up even more.
Step Three: Pick Up the First Thing You See
By the time I was done with this entire crack-of-dawn feeding ritual, I was awake enough to concentrate, but not awake enough to get ready for the day.
So, I grabbed the first thing I saw and took it back to bed with me – my computer.
Since the dogs were now happy, full, and snoring again (cheeky little fuzzies…), I couldn’t go back to sleep so I sat in bed, opened my computer, and started working on something I had always wanted to create – this blog!
I decided that I could either scroll through Instagram and watch everyone else’s life move forward, or I could spend every morning working on things that would move my life forward.
Step Four: Make It a Habit
After just a few days of this ritual, I started to notice that my brain wasn’t as foggy in the morning when my dogs jumped off the bed at 5:00 AM.
I was getting more done – and actually showering! – in the morning.
My sense of accomplishment was at one hundred percent by 7:00 AM, so I wasn’t resentful and cranky later in the day when my toddler wanted to go to the park for the tenth time.
It started out as an annoyance, but the eating habits of my dogs truly were the catalyst for helping me wake up early.
And I’m lucky – my dogs have kept their early-morning hungry habit.
I’ve been waking up early to work on my blog for over 30 days now, and I honestly don’t know how I used to sleep later!
Wake Up Early (A Quick Guide)
While most advice out there will tell you to simply will yourself into a good morning routine, I’ve found it’s almost impossible to stick to something you don’t want to do.
So here’s a Wake-Up Early Quick Guide for those of us who need more than just an alarm to wake up early.
Start with Bedtime
Always, always, always, get enough rest first. Trying to wake up early without getting enough sleep before will backfire, and quickly! Check out this post to find out how much sleep you need, then set a bedtime alarm on your phone, and stick to it!
Find an Enforcer
Before you even begin to think about all the awesome things you’ll do after you wake up early, get yourself an Enforcer – something that won’t let you sleep in, no matter what. In my experience, an alarm clock isn’t quite enough to get you up day after day, so it’s best to pick something really motivating. Put your phone on loud in a closet in the livingroom so you must get up to answer it, or have your neighbor set off the panic alarm on your car every morning for you. Or better yet…get Yorkies.
Do Something Technical
The brain has a hard time waking up in dark, warm, comfy places (like your bed), so as soon as your Enforcer tells you it’s time to get up – get up. Then do something that requires a little bit of brain effort, like brushing your teeth, pouring cereal, or taking the trash out. You don’t have to do it well, just do it. The more you move, the faster you’ll wake up!
Go to Your Productive Place
Surprisingly, my productive place is sitting in bed with my laptop open, but yours might be on the living room couch or kitchen table. Figure out where you like to work and go there.
Find Your Why
While I don’t subscribe to the whole “find your why” life-movement, I’ve found it is very helpful when trying to wake up early. Again, you’re not going to stick with something you don’t want to do, so choose something to work on that inspires you, motivates you, and gets your heart pumping.
And let me know how your wake-up-early plan goes! I’d love to hear what you’ve accomplished.