One easy-ish step to a happier day

When my brothers and I were growing up, my dad used to wake up early. Like, 5 a.m. early, which to me seemed practically inhumane. I had always assumed he was just wired that way – an early riser – but I later learned he did it on purpose, to carve out some time away from the rest of us.

And oh my god, I get it now.

Once upon a time my kids were tucked into their beds by 7:30 p.m., leaving me a few hours to eat olives straight out of the jar while binge-watching Netflix tidy up and prepare for the next day. These days, they’re not even home from soccer or dance or knitting or [insert activity here, they’re endless] until almost 8 p.m. Tack on some time for showers, snacks, TV and the requisite stalling and I’m lucky if they’re in bed by 9:40 p.m.

That doesn’t leave a whole lot of “me time.” I really need that time, though, so most nights I end up staying up way too late, which means I hit the snooze button four times too many the next morning, which means I suddenly jolt awake in a holy-shit-I’m-late! panic, and then power through making breakfasts, throwing uninspired school lunches together, signing permission forms I’ve barely read, rushing out the door, doing my makeup in the car and arriving at work already frazzled and looking like a hot mess in need of a caffeine IV.

Take it from me when I say that this is not the best way to start your day.

So, in keeping with my resolution to live this year with a little more intention and self-care, I’ve been experimenting with getting up early. Yes, that means I miss out on some late night TV, and that part kind of stinks because I love me some Seinfeld reruns. But, I think the payoff is worth it.

Most nights lately, I’m in bed not long after my school-aged children, which admittedly makes me feel like I’m a senior citizen. Despite being in my 40s, as I apply a heavy layer of anti-aging night cream each night there is still a tiny corner of my brain that thinks, Shouldn’t I be hittin’ up the clubs right now? Then I remember that I don’t like to drive at night anymore, and cabs are expensive and I still have to pay for last month’s piano lessons…

Wait, where was I going with this?

Oh, right… the surprisingly great thing about going to sleep early is that I can set my alarm earlier, and when it goes off I actually wake up, and completely skip the whole snooze-panic routine.

Instead, I wake to a quiet house. A QUIET HOUSE! That never happens, you guys. I make a cup of tea and sit down with the family planner (my latest ill-fated attempt at organizing our lives). I write a few quick notes in my journal. I go through the kids’ school agendas and draw little doodles for them to find. I pack their lunches – they’re still uninspired, but whatever. I like a bunch of stuff on Instagram. I put on mascara without jabbing my eyeball. Some days I even straighten my hair. It’s madness. It’s calm, quiet, serene, heavenly madness.

And when the girls do wake up, they no longer find me ricocheting around the kitchen like a psychotic pinball. We chat, I make them breakfast and then we start our days. It’s lovely.

All this is to say that if you aren’t currently waking up early… give it a try.

(Sarah at the blog Soul Intention is on the same track, and she’s hosting an early riser challenge to spread the word – hop on over there if you’d like join them!)

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Photo: Unsplash/Danielle MacInnes

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One thought on “One easy-ish step to a happier day

  1. This is awesome…and hey, I’ve been going to sleep (too many nights to admit) before my kids for a while now. Okay, so that has to do more with narcolepsy then actual intention, but still. I wake up on my own at 6-6:30. And like you, the house is quiet. And I, now a full on middle aged woman (ugh) turn on the morning news and “like” on instagram, and sip my coffee in childfree silence. 😉 it’s a good thing. As always Carolyn…your writing makes me smile and bring so much joy to my day!

    Like

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