Calm Mind – Calm Home – Calm Parent – Calm Child
“If you want to change your entire life in one small change, wake up earlier.”
Allie Casazza (“The Purpose Show” Podcast – Episode 69)
I never thought I would find myself advocating getting up earlier in the morning. However, having made it a habit for a good number of months now, I can honestly say that I have discovered many benefits to waking up earlier and have come to enjoy my early morning time.
I have always been a definite night owl. A person who gets a second burst of energy and enthusiasm late at night and who likes to burn the midnight oil.
Given the slightest chance, I love to sleep in very late in the morning. I can sleep through anything but the loudest alarm clock and, having finally heard my alarm, I often press the snooze button multiple times while struggling to wake up and drag myself out from under the duvet. Especially on a cold morning!!
I am known for being a “bed-hugger”. So much so that, in my late teens, I was given the relevant gift of an ornamental sign that read; “I’d enjoy the day more if it started later”. Due to the ongoing truthfulness of this statement, the gifted sign went with me everywhere I lived for many years until it was unfortunately broken a while ago.
It goes without saying that one thing I have found very difficult about becoming a mum is the necessity to wake up early every day of the year with my son.
If someone had suggested to me a couple of years ago that the way I could feel less overwhelmed, more energetic, more purposeful and calm was to wake up even earlier!! I would have dismissed the idea completely and would have offered up many different excuses as to why it was not even possible for me to wake up any earlier than I already did.
If I can wake up earlier and see the benefits of it, I think anyone can!! So, if you are looking for one simple way to change how you feel and to improve what you accomplish each day, waking up earlier is definitely worth a try.
If you wish to give it a go and are looking for inspiration, you can read on to discover how, against all the odds, I managed to create the habit of waking up earlier and why I believe it is worth the effort to do so.
Why I Decided to Try Waking Up Earlier
If you have read about my family story in my introductory post (My Story: The “Why” Behind Creating Calm With Clare) and have read my post about creating calm mornings before school (Calmly Getting Ready For School When Your Child Will Not Go Willingly), you will already be aware that creating calm mornings for myself and my family is extremely important to me.
Changing my personal morning routine has allowed me to calmly prepare for each day and take some quiet time for myself. My earlier mornings have, therefore, been extremely influential in enabling me to fully contribute to a calm family morning in our household.
There were a couple of main reasons why I came to the conclusion that waking up earlier was the possible change I needed, particularly on weekday mornings before work and school.
1. Avoiding the Morning Rush and Creating Peaceful Evenings
First and foremost our term time mornings before school were often extremely rushed and stressful for all involved. My Partner commutes to work pretty early each day. My son often worries about school and for a long time was very reluctant to go to school. Therefore, it was very difficult for me to remain calm and get all the necessary jobs and preparations for school done once my son was up and awake.
Instead of rushing around and hurrying things along each morning, I wanted to enable my partner to set off for work in a good frame of mind and I wanted to spend quality time with my son before school and remain as calm, encouraging and supportive as possible.
I try to do as many preparations the night before as I can. However, my partner arrives home from work quite late each evening and my son has difficulties sleeping (due to worry and anxiety). Our night time routine is often pretty unpredictable and there is a limit to the number of tasks I can realistically achieve each evening. Overloading the evening routine just becomes an additional source of stress for us all and is not effective for our family. Keeping evening preparations more minimal allows for a more peaceful atmosphere during our family evenings at home.
I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that my best option is to make more time for preparations in the morning before the rest of the household wakes up.
2. Creating Quiet Time for Myself
My second main reason was that I felt I needed some proper guilt-free time to myself each day.
My partner and I struggle to find time and space for ourselves during a normal day. We find it difficult to make time to spend together as a couple. We also find little time and space for alone time, or doing our own thing. By the time my partner arrives home after his long working/commuting hours and by the time my son has managed to settle to sleep, evenings often feel pretty much non-existent to my partner and I.
Our son is an only child and likes to spend a lot of time with us during the day. During the evening and at night, our son does not settle to sleep easily and often does not sleep well throughout the whole of the night in general. He falls asleep late, requiring input from me to help him settle, and wakes up during the night to come into our room and seek out comfort and company to help him sleep.
I want to enjoy spending lots of time with my son while he is up and awake during the day. I also want to have the energy and patience to support him well as he tries to fall asleep each night. In order to be the enthusiastic and patient Mum I want to be each day, I need to find time to regualrly rest and recharge by myself.
As evenings and night time are not naturally restful for our family, I needed to find a suitable time of day to spend quietly alone. Once again, my conclusion was that early in the morning was the best time to do it.
How I Achieved Waking Up Earlier
Having concluded that waking up earlier was the answer, I was still very unclear how to make it happen.
I was able to list many obstacles in my way (others might call them excuses!!) : –
- I am not “a morning person” and I can’t wake up without an alarm clock.
- My son is often asleep in our bed by morning and I don’t want to wake him up too early. So, I can’t use a traditional alarm clock because I would wake him up too. Therefore, I will have to wait until we solve my son’s sleeping difficulties before I can wake up early on my own.
- There might be such a thing as a silent alarm clock. However, a silent alarm will not work for me because I am such a deep sleeper, and I will not respond to it. Anyhow, we are on a tight budget with me being a stay-at-home mum and we can’t afford to buy an expensive new gadget right now.
- If my son does wake up early, he will get up too and that will defeat the whole purpose.
- I will be too tired as I don’t get to sleep early enough at night and I can’t go to bed any earlier due to helping my son with his sleeping first.
- We live in a small house. If I get up earlier and start moving around doing jobs I will wake everyone else up and disturb their sleep. It will also be too cold for me in the winter and I can’t set the heating to come on earlier due to our noisy pipes which will wake everyone up when the heating switches on.
The list could go on and on. If I’m honest, I had known for some time that waking up earlier was the answer, but had been putting it off, waiting for the “perfect” time to start.
I have Allie Casazza (of alliecasazza.com ,”The Purpose Show” Podcast and “allie_thatsme” on Instagram) to thank for helping me move forward and take action on this.
I have said that in creating this blog I hope to help others by colating and sharing the knowledge and resources I have found to be the most helpful on my journey towards calmness. Allie Casazza’s resources have been central to my journey so far.
Allie is known for talking about minimalism for the home, especially for Mums. Along with advising on minimalism in relation to the physical items within the home, she also applies minimalism and simplification to your household routines, your diary and schedule, your mindset and physical health, your eating and meal planning, your self-care, and every aspect of your life.
Allie champions minimalism for the sake of taking you out of what she calls “Survival Mode” and moving you into a life with more time, space and energy. A more enjoyable, intentional and purposeful life of your choosing.
If you are the kind of person who has lots of dreams and ideas about how you wish to change your life for the better but never seem to be able to put those ideas into action, I would definitely recommend following and listening to Allie Casazza. She focuses heavily on how to take action on your ideas and actually start to make the changes you wish to make in your life. (No affiliate links I promise!! I am just an avid listener of hers who has been truly inspired to action by her!!).
Allie regularly posts inspirational photographs and captions about her early morning coffee, rituals and routines on her Instagram Stories. She has written on her Blog and spoken on her Podcast about how beneficial to your life in general a good morning routine can be.
I had already been inspired by Allie for sometime when I discovered a free Challange she had created for her audience called the “She Is Intentional Challenge”. She delivered this Challenge via a series of videos which were accompanied by a Workbook (at the time of writing this blog post this Challenge can still be found at alliecasazza.com, by searching her archives for the Challenge by name).
I completed the Challenge and filled out the Workbook and it was doing the thinking that was required by this Challenge that finally motivated me to stop making excuses and procrastinating and find the the answer as to HOW I could start waking up earlier straight away in my current family living situation.
I realised that the excuses I was making about not being able to get up earlier stemmed from the limiting beliefs I held about my life. They did not reflect the reality and truth of the situation.
I concluded that, with a bit of creative thinking, it would be possible to find a way to wake up earlier.
Therefore, rather than wasting my energy moaning about how difficult and restrictive my life was and daydreaming about the unachievable perfect lifestyle that would allow me to do this, I set a simple intention to wake up at 5am each morning and began focusing my attention on HOW I could achieve this in my current life circumstances.
Once I actually started focusing on the HOW , it did not take long to find an answer and get started. These are the simple action steps I took: –
- Instead of secretly dreaming about my peaceful early morning plan, I comunicated to my partner and son what I wanted to do and why. I told them I was going to find a way to start waking up at 5am.
- I acknowledged that I definitely needed some form of suitable “alarm clock” technology to help me wake up. One that would wake me without waking the rest of my family.
- I did not assume that this “alarm clock” technology either didn’t exist or that it was too expensive. Instead, I took action and did some research online and quickly discovered that I could buy a fairly cheap Smart-Watch (I mean around about the £10 mark!!) that seemed to meet my needs and was within our budget. It was small enough and discreet enough to wear in bed and had a silent alarm function that would vibrate on my wrist when it was time to get up. I was still not convinced that I could be successfully woken by this kind of alarm, but I decided I would not find out unless I gave it a try. So I bought the watch.
- When the watch arrived, I just got started. I set the alarm function to 5am. I told my family that I planned to wake up at 5am the next morning. I wore the watch to bed and hoped for the best.
- It was not perfect and it started with a few blips. The first morning I thought the alarm was broken as I did not feel it vibrate on my wrist and I did not wake up on time. It turned out, true to form, the alarm did work and I had just slept through it!!
- I did not give up. I continued to wear the watch to bed at night and planned to get up at 5am each morning . Having persisted and having told myself each night I would get up early the next morning, eventually I started to respond to the alarm on my wrist and wake up at the correct time of 5am.
This began my new habit of waking up earlier. My son and partner have managed to sleep on as I creep out of bed and, since then, I have had a bonus hour of time to myself each morning.
As you can see from my action points, none of this is revolutionary!! In fact the answer was very simple. I just had to be determined to achieve my goal, I had to work out a possible method of HOW to do it and then I just had to start, give it a go and not give up at the first hurdle!!
What I do with my Bonus Hour in the Morning
Now I had successfully created my bonus hour in the morning between 5am and 6am, I just needed to decide what to do with it.
What I have chosen to do with my bonus hour is extremely simple.
Lots of articles I have read about the amazing benefits of waking up at 5am seem to be focused on one of two things: – Business or Self-Care.
In the business world, waking up early seems to be all about getting ahead of the game, getting your most important work done while you are feeling at your best and achieving your ambitions in the world of work.
In the Self-Care world, lots of the routines I read about seemed completely unachievable for a Mum like me. They seemed to involve lengthy meditation practices, hours of yoga or jogging outside, lots of lengthy journalling and making elaborate health drinks for breakfast.
Whilst these Business and Self-Care focused morning routine suggestions have their place and are extremely inspiring, neither of these two worlds matched my world and what I wanted achieve.
I did not want to change the world, make a million pounds or achieve any extreme health and fitness goals. I simply wanted to do a few household tasks (without rushing) and take some quiet time for myself before the busy daily requirements of a Mum who wished to do her best for her family began.
So, the early morning routine I am going to share with you here might seem underwhelming in comparison to other articles you may have read. However, this apparently simple routine has been life changing for me and has transformed mornings and daily life immensely for me and my family.
An Overview of the Simple Early Morning Routine I Created
I get out of bed at 5am. I put on my dressing gown (with warm socks and slippers if its cold!!). I make my way down to the kitchen to do some household jobs before spending some quiet time alone in the lounge and then returning upstairs to spend some further quiet time with my Son. This routine can be explained in three stages as follows: –
Stage 1 -Simple Household Task Routine In Kitchen
The kitchen is at the furthest point in our house from where the rest of my family are sleeping. I can shut myself in there and not disturb their sleep while I quietly and calmly do some of the essential household preparations for the day.
The following is a summary of the very simple jobs I do each day at this time in the kitchen. While it may not seem like much of an achievement, finishing these jobs before the rest of the household wakes up has completely transformed my mornings.
Instead of finding these jobs stressful as I once did, I now enjoy doing these jobs each morning, whilst the house is lovely and quiet. In fact the repetitive rhythm of doing these tasks in exactly the same order each day almost feels like a meditation practice to me.
In doing these jobs earlier, I have made it possible for me to feel much more calm and focused after my son wakes up and this has given me more quality time and energy to spend with my son before he goes to school. You will see it only takes a few small tweeks to improve things: –
- I put my Son’s school water bottle in soapy water to soak
- I boil the kettle to make myself a mug of hot water to drink later.
- I leave my Son’s water bottle soaking and my mug of hot water cooling while I do the jobs described below: –
- Clear off the clean, dry dishes and plastic pots from our sink drying rack. This enables us to start the day with a clear and organised sink area ready to use at breakfast time.
- Prepare the food for and pack my Son’s sandwich box. Put an ice-pack in the sandwich box to keep the food cool and fresh for school.
- Prepare a snack for my Partner and leave it on the side for him to take with him to work when he leaves at 7:20am.
- Finally, I Rinse out my Son’s school water bottle that has been soaking and leave the clean rinsed bottle on the now cleared drying rack to dry off ready for filling with water later, just before school.
- I then leave the kitchen and take my now cooled and ready to drink mug of hot water into the lounge with me to drink.
Stage 2 – Quiet Time Alone In Lounge
After leaving the kitchen, I sit quietly and peacefully in my favourite chair in the lounge for 5-15 minutes until 6am while drinking my mug of hot water.
How I actually spend this time varies from day to day. Sometimes I just sit and think. Sometimes I read a book or read something I have looked forward to reading on my phone. Sometimes I check the family diary to remind myself what the day holds for us.
The important thing is that whatever I decide to do at that time, it is my time to do as I please and I get to choose to do something (or nothing ) to centre myself in the way that I require on that particular day.
I feel calm and restful because I do not feel at all guilty for taking this time for myself. I have already done the essential morning preparations, there is nowhere else I feel I should be, my family are cozy and content upstairs. This is bonus time just for me and I can take a moment to breath and rest.
Stage 3 – Quiet Time Upstairs With My Son, While My Partner Enjoys his Quiet Time Downstairs Alone Before Work
After my bonus hour has come to an end, I head back upstairs and I lay out my Son’s School Uniform Ready for him to get dressed when he gets up.
I make sure that my Partner is awake and getting up ready to start his day. I then stay upstairs resting with my Son between 6am -7am while my partner goes downstairs to enjoy some quiet time of his own while getting ready to leave for work.
I enjoy the time resting with my Son. I feel content that everything is ready and organised for us to have a good morning together once we get up and properly start our day at 7am. I also feel pleased that my Partner can take some time for himself and that he will be welcomed downstairs by a kitchen with a clear sink and a snack for work waiting for him.
During the hour resting with my Son, I can often hear reassuring and peaceful early morning sounds such as the birds singing outside our window and my Partner making his first coffee of the day downstairs. At this time I often feel and acknowledge a great sense of gratitude for our home and the family life we have created for ourselves. This is my own version of a daily gratitude practice.
This is a great frame of mind to start each day with and is an altogether different and much improved way of thinking for me. It is far removed from the impending feelings of stress and rush I used to feel upon waking up.
Benefits of Waking up Earlier
As I said earlier, the very simple changes I have made by waking up earlier have changed mornings and daily life for me and my family immensely. The early morning routine has benefited us all in many ways.
For a start, I feel I am generally a better human being throughout the day. That not only benefits me, but also benefits my family and all of those around me.
Starting my day proactively by “choosing” when to get up, rather than starting my day reactively with a state -of-mind of “having” to get up, has changed everything.
I am less stressed and rushed throughout the morning and this saves me and everybody else energy.
I feel less guilty about having a more relaxed evening routine, as I know I now have all the time I need to do things in the morning. This more relaxed approach to evenings has benefited the whole family too.
My fears of being too tired due to reduced sleep have been completely disproved. In fact I feel better rested, more energetic and enthusiastic than I ever did before.
In fact, this early morning change has been instrumental in me feeling more capable and free to go out and seek part-time employment and I now have a part-time job which is great for the family finances.
The process of focusing on the HOW (instead of on the problems and excuses) that I practiced when implementing getting up earlier was extremely useful when I applied it to finding a suitable part-time job.
My alone time has left me feeling less overwhelmed and more focused. I, therefore, feel like our household routines are more predictable and manageable for us all now. This means that we can now cope with the change of routines required for me to be out of the house for a few hours a week working.
Another benefit is that my Partner can feel more relaxed before he sets off for work because the atmosphere in the house in the morning is so much calmer than before. We are not all clamouring to get into the kitchen and bathroom at the same time. This gives us all a better feeling of more space and more time.
finally, and very importantly, I am now modelling good calm behaviour for my son. As a result he seems to get up and get on with his routine much better each morning too. We are far less likely to have a falling out before school than we were before and I am more present in the moment with him during our time together. This makes for a much more pleasant morning for us both and sets us both up for a better day once we leave each other at the school gate at drop off time.
The short amount of time I have made for myself is invaluable to my wellbeing and that of my family. I know that my family and I are not really getting sufficient sleep each night in this phase of our lives and that is something we need to work on in the long term. However, as things stand right now, I believe that carving out this period of alone time for myself is much more beneficial to my health, wellbeing and family life than an extra hour in bed.
I am not saying that I intend to get up at 5am for the rest of my life. Even now, I only do this strictly on weekdays during term-time and have a more relaxed approach at weekends and during holidays.
I am also not suggesting that everybody should do this all of the time. In certain phases of life this may not be appropriate at all. I hope there will one day come a time in my life when I can sleep more hours each night, get up later and still enjoy relaxing mornings and quiet time at a later hour!!
However, during certain phases of your life, getting up earlier is definitely worth considering as an option, particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed, rushed or trapped by your circumstances.
Even if this is not something you wish to do long-term or regularly, it is definitely a habit which is worth practicing in the short term. Once you know you can do it, you can pull it out of the bag whenever you feel like your life needs it. For example, while I don’t generally get up at 5am on weekends and holidays, if we are setting off somewhere early in the morning during a weekend or holiday, I know I can set my Smart-Watch alarm on that particular occasion for 5am, get up and put my early morning routine into practice. It is a great habit to know you can fall back on.
I hope this post helps you to decide whether or not earlier mornings are a possible option for you. I hope I have inspired you to believe that getting up earlier is not as difficult as it might seem and can be achieveable for all, even those who believe they are not morning people!!.
I also hope I have made you realise that an early morning routine does not need to be complicated or ellaborate. The most simple early morning routine (designed by you to match the unique needs of your own life) can really make a difference to your life.
I would really love to hear any comments from those who decide to give this a try. I would also love to hear from those who are already early risers and who might have other suggestions of how to beneficially spend that bonus early morning time.
Until then, I wish you all a very good morning.