From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.
I set my alarm for 6:30 this morning. But when I realized I was putting away my book at 1:30, I decided I’d better turn it off. Luckily (and not commonly) my girls slept past 8:00 – which meant I didn’t get the early start on my day I’d hoped for and needed. I didn’t get that email sent or the laundry changed or – I’m the saddest about this one – the shower taken.
No, instead it was another morning full of chaos and rushing around, shouting at one daughter to brush her teeth and make up her bed now, now, now then frantically rustling through the fridge and pantry to find something to pack in the other one’s lunch. I got my contacts in but no makeup on and just enough deodorant to [hopefully] prolong anyone noticing my lack of shower. And the house? Well, it was a victim of one more hectic and hurried morning, with papers covering the table and dishes filling the sink.
Don’t even ask me about the laundry.
I’m not a morning person, you guys. Like, AT ALL. When I was a little girl, my dad worked the evening shift so I stayed up very late with my mom. You know, watching M*A*S*H and Barney Miller and Taxi, like most three-year-olds? It made sense for my family and I only blame my parents for my night owl ways in jest. Really, it’s just how I’m wired and what I prefer. Nights are my favorites; mornings are the worst.
But I can’t argue with science. And evidence. And facts or whatever. [Yes. This is how immature and disgruntled I am when discussing the benefits of early mornings. I’m not even going to try hiding it!] Studies have shown (and early birds have bragged) that people who get up early are more successful. Studies have probably shown that they’re happier and thinner and more organized and always send their Christmas cards on time, too. I’m not sure about that part; it just seems like something morning people would say.
Sigh. I can joke all I want, but the truth remains that mornings are made for productivity and sanity and a life that runs smoother than what I experienced this morning (and so many others). And it’s with these frustrating facts in mind that despite my night owl ways, I am constantly trying to get up earlier.
I’ve told you all this because I don’t want to make it seem like I have it all together, like I’m some sort of morning expert (ha!), like my mornings actually couldn’t GET any better. That is the opposite of the truth. So if you are longing for better mornings in your life and your house, you’re not alone. I’m with you, and here are some things I’ve tried in the past and plan to try in the near future.
(I mean, probably not tomorrow morning because I’m writing this post late at night. But maybe the day after that?)
A Night Owl’s Tips for Better Mornings
For Getting to Bed Earlier:
- Stop reading mid-chapter. If you are a late-night reader like me, this tip from Modern Mrs. Darcy is crucial. Don’t fall prey to the wily ways of authors. They make those chapter endings cliffhangers on purpose, friends! They want you to stay up all night reading! They do not want you to be presentable or coherent in the morning. So foil them and your night owl-ness by stopping in the middle of a chapter.
- Wind down with mundane tasks (fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, balance your checkbook). I seem to get a second wind right before bedtime, when I realize the clock isn’t kidding about how late it’s gotten. Which might be great for getting a few more things accomplished before falling into bed…but isn’t so great for turning off my brain and falling asleep. So I save the harder tasks that require more brainpower for earlier in the day.
- Keep a notebook by bed. In case your brain still won’t turn off. Or in case your best ideas show up at the worst times.
For Making the Most of Your Mornings:
Sure, sure, get up earlier. Maybe try baby steps and set your alarm just a few minutes earlier each day. But in case getting up earlier is as hard for you as it is for me, here are a few ideas for milking the minutes before the day starts, few as they may be.
- Work in advance. Make lunches, choose outfits, pack bags and find paperwork before you even go to bed.
- Exercise at night. (Unless it keeps you awake and then never mind.)
- Shower at night. (Same exception as above.)
- Fix breakfast before you need it. Take an hour or so each week to make a batch of breakfast muffins or casserole – or smoothies (my most recent obsession).
For Making the Start a Little Less Painful:
- Don’t check your email. Or Facebook or Twitter or whatever it is you look at when you grab it as you roll out of bed. Don’t do that. (I’m talking to myself, if you hadn’t guessed!)
- Keep the TV off. Or turn it on. Whatever works for you – but make sure you’ve thought about what actually works for you (as opposed to simply turning it on out of habit). (Then again, if your toddler wakes up saying, “Poopy! Dressed! Mommy! DANIEL!” then you might have to find an episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood no matter your preferences…)
- Give a hug. More than one of my friends swears by The Hugging Method. Okay, fine, I don’t know if it’s actually called that, but they start their kids’ days with a 10-second hug. For their families, it makes a world of difference in how they all approach the start of a new day. One of these days my grumpy morning self is going to give this a try.
- Get a drink. I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t love coffee. (I know. I KNOW this might be why I am so bad at mornings. I know!) But I do know that drinking a big glass of cold water goes a long way toward waking me up and shaking off the groggy haze of I Stayed Up Too Late Again.
So, tell me: am I alone in being a night owl who struggles with mornings? How do YOU create better mornings?
Photos by Henrique Simplicio and Alex via Flickr’s Creative Commons.