When you’re a mom with a day job, there’s never enough time. The hours left behind each day after the kids are in bed are tired hours. All you want to do at that point is a) clean up so that you’ll be ready for battle tomorrow, b) watch tv/eat/drink so you can forget about the day and the restlessness that is brewing inside you.
After all, you deserve it.
Paint/write/work on your passion project?
Sounds great but you’re exhausted and uninspired. Nobody would care and the world won’t miss a thing.
And if you really think that way, I’m hoping to change your mind. The world will miss your unique gifts, your unique point of view, your unique way of teaching. We will miss all that if you don’t hustle your butt off. So, how do you find the time to work when there’s simply no time left to your day?
Wake up early
Use your early morning hours to work on your passion projects. After awhile, you will automatically eat less junk, watch less tv, be a happier person and become a more present mom. You’re thinking it’s not possible. I didn’t think so either until I tried.
I started waking up at 5:30 for a few months starting last April. That was the time I was consistently posting on Instagram, writing my newsletter, working on my website. Coincidentally, I was sleeping better at night. I seemed to be happier. I was a woman on a mission.
Then in July, due to summer vacations, my routine was off. I started waking up at my normal time. I slept longer but I often would turn and toss a lot at night before falling asleep. Initially, I thought it might be diet-related. I was in a funk. I felt uninspired, restless and just frustrated that I had so much to do, and not enough time to do the things I wanted to do. This quote from Steven Pressfield’s book, War of Art describes it clearly,
What does Resistance feel like?
First, unhappiness. We feel like hell. A low-grade misery pervades everything. We’re bored, we’re restless. We can’t get no satisfaction. There’s guilt but we can’t put our finger on the source. We want to go back to bed; we want to get up and party. We feel unloved and unlovable. We’re disgusted. We hate our lives. We hate ourselves.
One day my husband asked me why I haven’t woken up early like I used to. After getting all defensive and hormonal about it, I realized he was right. Why haven’t I been up early to work? I thought I could sleep in and wing it like everybody else and slowly, sleeping in became a habit.
…we will never cure our restlessness by contributing our disposable income to the bottom line of Bullshit, Inc., but only by doing our work. – War of Art
Reading War of Art really puts me back on track again. I realized I have to work to get anything out of this and it is regardless of how I feel, regardless of failure or success. I have to work every morning. That’s what a professional do (versus an amateur). So I started my morning routine again and it’s amazing to me that almost immediately, I feel better.
What might happen after a period of consistently waking up early
To be honest, it was a bit tired some days if there were a lot of mom stuff I had to do the previous night but my sense of internal well-being outweighs my tired body.
Imagine, you finally work on what your soul is calling out for you to do. You finally put in the time to respond to that calling, to get into the zone that makes you forget time. The gifts inside you are all used up. You rest because you are spent. You have poured everything out. And the restlessness inside you calms down. Because there’s no war waging inside of you, you now have the space to be more present with your family. A sense of contentment washes over you. You don’t need food/tv/alcohol to numb the pain inside you anymore.
How do you start waking up early?
So how early do you need to be up? How many hours do you need? Is that going to be every day? Pick a time to get up every day. 5 am doesn’t work for me. 5:30 seems to be my sweet spot. Experiment and adjust.
I prefer the mornings to check in with my plan. Make sure I haven’t gone far too deep in the social media hole. It is also the time I prefer to write long form content like blog posts. I leave posting or answer questions on social media for the evenings as that’s when people seem to be on and I don’t need as long of a stretch of time to focus. Figure out what works best for you and do it over and over each day. Don’t start to over-think if that morning’s work is good or bad. Do it anyway.
A typical morning for me goes something like this:
I wake up at 5:30 am. I brew my coffee and while that is going, I write down what I’m grateful for in my journal.
I then grab my coffee and do a 10-minute meditation (using Headspace app or Tara Brach’s podcast). Coffee before meditation is so I don’t fall back asleep when I meditate.
I then start to work. I either have a notebook and write my ideas and expand on them in the book or I start writing my blog post on my laptop. I ignore my emails or Facebook, even though I can see the number of new notifications since last night. I write till 7-am or earlier if my youngest are up.
The tricky part is when my kids are sick or they were up in the middle of the night and I’m unable to get a good night’s rest. If I can still squeeze 30 mins of work, I will. If I’m exhausted but I can wake up I will. If I can’t because of a late night out with friends, my kids were up all night, I give myself a break and sleep in but start again tomorrow. I try to only miss one morning.
After awhile of this routine, you will come to look forward to it and you might feel disappointed if you can’t get the same number of hours in. But I try to focus on the fact that I will be up again tomorrow. So I don’t feel too bad about one missed morning.
The concept of time is weird. Even though you have less time, you will become more efficient. You will get the important things done instead of all the urgent things done. The best part, you will stop binge-watching tv. You will forget about the ice-cream tub in your freezer. You will want to go to bed early because of what you get to do early tomorrow morning.
Over to you
If you’ve tried waking up early in the past or is already on a great morning routine, share your wins and lessons learned in the comments below!