How waking up early saved my family

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We all know that successful people get up super early, but they’re getting paid the big bucks when we’re just trying to keep 100 plates spinning while jumping through a flaming hoop and trying to keep the tiny humans alive.

I get it. Waking up early sucks.

Yeah I’ll say it, waking up early is literally the worst.

Seriously, though. The first few days are terrible, and then all of a sudden, this strange and wonderful thing happens: you start to get used to it. And then a few more days pass, and something really weird starts to happen: you start to actually like it.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of sleep princess. I like to be in bed between 10:30 and 11 and my ideal wake up time is 8:15. A blissful 9 hours each and every night.

But then I had a baby.

And then I went back to work.

I kept with my old routine, and soon I found that my mornings and evenings were frazzled, my house was a mess, and I just always felt like it was behind. Evan and I were constantly bickering about silly things, I was getting annoyed with Ava’s whining even though I knew she was just whining because she wanted to spend time with me.

One night sticks out in particular, I had just come home from work. Evan had been home for about an hour with Ava, and she was so excited to see me! I gave her a big hug and a kiss and then I set her in her pack ‘n play so I could make dinner, clean the kitchen, and try to get our lives together for the evening.

It wasn’t long before Ava started fussing, and I told her several times that I’d be there in a minute. But in my distracted state, I kept moving from one task to the next.

After awhile Evan came over with her and said in a firm, even voice, “Babe, your daughter wants you. You always come home and go straight into doing something. It’s go, go, go. She wants you. She won’t always want you. Dinner and dishes can wait. Play with her.”

I started to choke something out like, “But I just need to…” and then I broke down in tears. I grabbed my baby and kissed her hair while I cried.

I had started to say that I just needed to get dinner finished and then I would play. And then. And then. And then.

There was always something keeping me from being the mother that I wanted to be: dishes, laundry, dinner.

Something had to change. So I turned in my sleep princess crown, and committed to getting up between 5 and 5:30 am.

And honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever turn back.

By getting up early, I’m able to have at least 2 hours entirely to myself every morning. This is a time I use for my morning ritual (more on that later!): drinking coffee, meditation, journaling, reading my Bible and either working out or getting some pressing tasks done. I work out 3-4 days a week (welllll, most weeks :P), so the other days I use that time to do some writing, get a jump start on work, etc.

I’ve come to realize that by being flexible and making a tiny adjustment to my preferred schedule, I’m able to be more present for my own life, as well as for my daughter and husband.

I feel more grounded, centered, and ready for the day when I get up early. Even if the rest of my day goes downhill, it’s much easier to handle because I already knocked-out the most pressing tasks of the day.

But getting up early isn’t an all or nothing thing — it’s all or something.

Make your goal to be up just 10 minutes earlier. You can accomplish that by just not hitting snooze! After you get good at getting up 10 minutes earlier, start pushing yourself to wake up earlier and earlier. If you miss a day and sleep in, that’s okay! Show yourself some grace, and get back on it the next morning. I bet you’ll find that you missed it.

So while waking up earlier didn’t actually save my family, it did help lift me out of that motherhood survival-mode funk that had been hovering over our home.

Waking up early takes discipline and commitment. And just like most positive changes, it won’t come easy, but it will definitely be worth it.

Are you an early riser by nature? Are you a night-owl thinking about testing the waters of all this early morning stuff? If you’re needing encouragement to make this change work for you, Subscribe and find me on Instagram @simply.sarahmae

xo — Sarah

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January 16, 2018 —

There’s been such an overwhelming response to this post, that I’ve decided to create #ReclaimYourDay — a 7-day early bird challenge group! We start Monday 1/22/18 — leave a comment or send me a note at soulintentionblog@gmail.com if you want to join us and I’ll send you the information!

January 18, 2018 —

Round 1 is full, but Round 2 will be starting in mid-March! Sign up here to save your spot for #ReclaimYourDay Round 2! 

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The secret to getting out of survival mode

Ready to start living an intentional life? Stop just getting through and live life on purpose. Subscribe to Soul Intention, so you can stay in the know and get the tools you need to live your life with purpose. 

The other day in Kroger, I was paralyzed in the mustard section. Spicy Brown? Dijon? Yellow? Name brand? Store brand? Oh yeah, we also need diapers. *Adds diapers to the list* What was I doing? Oh, right. Mustard.

I stared at rows and rows of the yellowish-brown condiment for nearly 7 minutes. I could not for the life of me, just pick one. So what happened? Did I just not sleep enough the night before — probably, but I think that I was a victim of decision fatigue, which is a fancy way of saying that my brain was exhausted from doing the heavy duty of making thousands of decisions every.single.day.

Pause. I know what you’re thinking. Sarah, there’s no way you made a thousand decisions in a day.  

Oh but I did. You definitely do too, every.single.day.  

According to recent research, you are going to make 35,000 “remotely conscious” decisions today.

By contrast, our adorable chitlins are only going to make about 3,000.

So while you might not have stared aimlessly at the mustard section of your local supermarket for an inordinate amount of time, I’m sure you’ve experienced the moment when you literally couldn’t make another decision even if you wanted to.

Enter: Rhythms.

A heartbeat. The thump of a bass drum. Despacito. They all have rhythm, so why not your life?

Rhythms are these beautiful things that we just do. We do them every day, so they just happen in the background of our lives. We don’t think about them. We don’t stress about them. And we all already have them.

I love how Allie Casazza puts it on her blog, rhythms have been part of the key to “escaping survival mode in motherhood.” By having to make fewer decisions about day-to-day things, I’m happier, lighter and able to put more focus on things that actually matter: my marriage, my baby, and my brain!

My Rhythms

Since Ava was born, I realized that my old way of doing laundry just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I couldn’t just set aside an entire day to do a MOUNTAIN of laundry anymore. So I established a rhythm.

Now, first thing every morning I get up, grab the basket and start a load. At some point during the day, but usually after dinner, I’ll fold it and take it upstairs where it will get sorted and put away in 3-5 minutes by morning. It’s a little thing saving me a meltdown, raised cortisol levels, a sassy attitude with my husband.

It took a couple weeks of reminding myself, but now it just happens. And for the first time in forever, I don’t stress about doing the laundry because it’s always done. There aren’t piles and piles of it everywhere taunting me.

Some other rhythms I have:

  • Getting up early and tackling the most pressing things on my to-do list first thing in the morning

This one has been a game changer for personally, because even if my entire day hits the fan later, it’s okay because I got the most important thing done before anyone else was out of bed. It totally changed my life and my marriage.

  • Wiping down the counters, rinsing the dishes, and placing them in the dishwasher after every meal
  • Doing a quick 10-minute pick-up every evening after Ava goes to bed

So, if you want to stop feeling like you’re just surviving motherhood and really starting thriving, establish some rhythms in your life.

Start by asking yourself: What are the things I HAVE to get done in a day in order to not be anxious/stressed/feel like I’m behind?

These aren’t the things that you want to get done, these are things that stress you out like crazy and you will not go to bed until it’s done.

Write them down.

Now write down how you would feel to walk in the door after a long day knowing that those things were taken care of.

Pretty great, right?

Set aside a few minutes today (I know you’re crazy busy, but trust me, you have 5 minutes to spare to do this) and write down a couple rhythms for your own life. Then commit to doing them for a week. Just one week!  Do whatever it takes to hold yourself accountable, even if you miss a day, that’s okay! Show yourself some grace and get back after it.

Tag me on Instagram @simply.sarahmae! I can’t wait to see all of the rhythms you guys establish to make your life more intentional, less stressful, and much much happier.

Peace, Love & Cookie Dough — Sarah

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