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I’m not a morning person, but woke up at 5:30 a.m. every day for a week—here’s what happened

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I am a night owl through and through. I think I always will be deep down—no matter what. No matter how sleepy I am with having a newborn, no matter how early I have to get up the next day, no matter how much my husband begs politely requests that I go to bed when he goes to bed. I almost can’t fight the allure of the nighttime quiet and always stay up (way) past my bedtime.


But I have been intrigued by the idea of getting up really early in the morning to enjoy the peace and quiet while my brain is fully functioning and not super sleepy (after coffee, of course.)

So I decided to give this whole “waking up early” thing a try. I’d wake up at 5:30 a.m. for seven days in a row to see how it felt. To be honest, I was curious. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to see if it would make a difference in how I felt.

Secret thoughts: Would I be happier? Feel more productive? Would life be easier? Could I stay awake until bedtime? Would I go to bed earlier now?

But first, I needed some advice on how to do it.

So I turned to our resident intentional living coach, Allie Casazza. Allie said one way to do it would be to go cold turkey, “Start waking up at your goal time right off the bat. Day one (and maybe two) will be super difficult and you will be totally exhausted, but that causes you to go to bed earlier after that first morning, which makes waking earlier the next morning easier. It only gets easier from there!”

There was only one way I was ever going to really find out. I had to give it a go myself.

Here’s how it all went down.

Day one—

I opened my eyes at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t get out of bed until 6:00 a.m. I scrolled Instagram and Facebook for a half hour before I could force myself to go make some coffee.

I was feeling really tired.

I was up with a sick baby the night before who didn’t want to sleep. At all. I was exhausted alllll day (Allie was correct on that, that’s for sure.) I was really cranky and didn’t have much for patience levels—I snapped and yelled and felt guilty. I literally cried after my three-year-old had a tantrum at a very busy park we went to.

My two kiddos took very short naps and I got the dreaded “I’m so sorry, but I have to take the late train home” text from my husband. How was I going to survive the dinner, bath time, bed time routine by myself? More coffee.

So there I was at 5:30 p.m. sipping a nice hot cup of joe listening to my daughters scream “for fun” during their bath while I edited essays sitting on a very small stool in the bathroom.

Day one wasn’t off to a great start, necessarily, but I was determined...

Day two—

I snoozed for 14 minutes. ?

My husband brought me a coffee in bed before he left for work and I was awake and sipping by 5:45 a.m.

The main point of wanting to wake up early is to get work done before my kids wake up. I’m a work-from-home/stay-at-home mom hybrid and this time is crucial for me. But I still felt like maybe I should take a shower, or fold some laundry with this precious time.

I decide to stick to work. Secret thoughts: Must. Stay. Focused. Colleen.

I went to bed at 11:15 p.m. last night which was totally unnecessary. I was exhausted, and still went to bed late. Maybe my next article will be trying to force myself to go to bed at a responsible hour (because I seriously have a problem.)

Today was better. Still a little tired, but the girls were listening better, I got a babysitter break in the afternoon to work, had lots of coffee and a much better attitude.

I still went to bed around 11:15 p.m. again though. I will never learn. ?

Day three—

I got up on time again today. I was feeling pretty proud of myself (not gonna lie). My husband brought me coffee again which was a lifesaver.

My daughter Lucy woke up at about 6:45 a.m. today which is early for my kids, so she kind of put a wrench in my “get lots of concentrated work done” plan. But we made do! I let her watch a little bit of Daniel Tiger while I finished up. Then we got the day started. And somehow I got everyone dressed and fed and out the door on time to my doctor’s appointment. ?

After my appointment, our babysitter came over by 11 a.m. and stayed until 3 p.m. I am not going to lie—today by about 12:15 p.m. I felt like I had been hit by a bus.

Secret thoughts: Why did I sign up for this at 35 weeks pregnant? Should I stop this assignment and quit my job? Can I stab myself with a needle and somehow do a DIY coffee drip into my arm? (Side note: is there a tutorial on Pinterest for that? Is that safe while pregnant?)

I decided instead of quitting or harming myself, I’d take a 40 minute nap because, as they say, I “couldn’t even.”

So I paid a person to watch my children so I could sleep.

Secret thoughts: So, this is what winning feels like?

The rest of the day went fairly smooth and there I was, going to bed at 11:15 p.m. again.

Day four—

Our fire alarm went off (and wouldn't stop) at 4:30 a.m. Surprisingly it didn’t wake either of our kids up. ? And everything was okay, thankfully! BUT it did wake my husband and I up. And since I was jolted awake by it, I was wide awake (and probably should have stayed awake) and it then took me a little while to fall back to sleep. Once I fell back to sleep, it was basically time to wake up again.

So….I snoozed. Ugh!

I woke up at 5:55 a.m. this morning.

I was tired and out of it. Coffee helped a little, but then both kids were up at 6:30 a.m. which is very early for them. They watched a bit of TV in the morning while they ate their breakfast and I finished some work. We needed to get out of the house so we hung out at the farm with friends for a while.

The girls fell asleep in the car on the way home so I pulled into the driveway and did some work in the cool AC of the car while the girls rested.

Later in the afternoon, by about 3:30 p.m. I was beyond tired. I have a bit of a summer cold so I’m thinking this, plus early mornings, plus being 35 weeks pregnant makes for a very tired combo.

Secret thoughts: Do early risers wake up super early even when they aren’t feeling top notch?

I was laying on the couch while the girls played and then when I realized I was basically nodding off, I decided it was time to get up and wake up so I made a cup of coffee at about 4:00 p.m. I don’t want to do that anymore! But, alas…I needed to stay up until my husband got home.

Secret thoughts: I NEED to go to bed by 10 the latest tonight. Then maybe I’ll have some more energy tomorrow morning?

Day five—

No coffee today from the husband. He was rushing to catch his train. So, I had to lug myself out of bed and get it myself. That was harder, BUT, it also did help me wake up a bit more. ?

I was up and at ‘em by 5:45 a.m. today.

I went to bed by 10:45 p.m. last night which is a huge improvement for me. I only had one coffee throughout the day which is surprising. I didn’t feel like I needed more. I guess there is something to going to bed early (go figure!).

Day six—

I actually did wake up at 5 a.m. on my own.

Secret thoughts: Do early risers actually do this on the weekend, too?

...And then I fell back to sleep and woke up at 7:30 a.m. Sorry, peeps, it’s the weekend and I ain’t got time for waking up before the sun.

Day seven—

My in-laws stayed over because my husband and I went to a concert on Saturday night, so I am going to be honest with you because I cherish honesty—I slept in until about 9:00 a.m. It was glorious and since I don’t get too many mornings like this, I let myself enjoy it. (Granparents, FTW! ?)

It’s all about balance, right?

So what did I learn during this experiment?

1. Enlist your partner as your early bird buddy.

It definitely helped me that my husband woke up around the same time, so that I wasn’t alone in this. (Plus, the bringing me coffee thing was very sweet of him.)

2. Choose a morning ritual.

Coffee—to me—is delicious, it helps wake me up a bit and it’s comforting. Decide on a “ritual” that works for you that you can look forward to enjoying once you wake up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be coffee—it could be tea, or hot water with lemon, or something totally different like five minutes of prayer or meditation or stretching.

3. Let yourself ease into the morning.

Looking at something on my phone—the news or social media—for about 15 minutes before I get cracking on work, does help me wake up. (I don’t know that this is sound advice, but it did help me.)

4. Go to bed early.

Going to bed at a reasonable time (my goal is between 10:00 p.m.-10:30 p.m.) is really worthwhile when you’re waking up before the sun. When you go to bed late, and still wake up early, it’s tough to keep your energy levels up throughout the day (even with coffee!).

5. Sit at a designated work space.

It definitely helps to work at a desk vs sitting up in my bed to work. I have a small work space in my room, so moving over to that area helps me feel more focused.

6. Make a list the night before.

The night before, I would think through my most important items I wanted to tackle the next day and jot them down quick (on an actual note pad or on the notes app in my phone) so I wouldn’t forget. Then I knew what I wanted to start with first when I woke up without having to think much about it.

7. Set realistic expectations.

Getting up super early, when your husband does too (to leave for work outside of the house), to do work while your children are quietly sleeping—can only work out so perfectly so many times. You’re kiddo is going to wake up early on random days, they’re not going to feel well, you’re not going to feel well, etc. Things happen in life, and we have to roll with it. So, setting the expectations of “this is not going to be perfect every single day” was very helpful.

8. Be proud of yourself!

I was really proud of myself for giving this a go. And look at me—here I am writing this article at 6:00 a.m. while my kids are sleeping, two weeks after my experiment. I have woken up early most days since and it actually has been life-changing in a way. I’m used to it now, so it makes it easier to just get up and get to it. And while not every morning is perfect (because...kids) it feels SO nice to have checked a few things off my to-do list before my girls even wake up.

Now, to work on the going to bed earlier part...

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

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If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

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Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

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If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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