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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.)

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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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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.


Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

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

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Parents everywhere are feeling for Hamilton star Miguel Cervantes and his wife, Kelly, who just said goodbye to their daughter, three-year-old Adelaide. She died on Saturday, October 12.

Adelaide had been battling epilepsy prior to her death. Miguel and Kelly, who also share 7-year-old son Jackson, documented their daughter's life via Instagram, where they frequently shared updates on the little girl's condition.

But this week, they are sharing news of her death. "The machines are off. Her bed is empty. The quiet is deafening. Adelaide left us early Saturday. She went peacefully in her mother's arms, surrounded by love. Finally, she is free from pain + seizures but leaves our hearts shattered. We love you so much Adelaideybug and forever after," both Miguel and Kelly write alongside a photo of the girl's empty bed.

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Miguel, who played the title role in Chicago's production of the musical Hamilton, opened up about his daughter's diagnosis to the Chicago Tribune back in 2016. According to the report, Adelaide suffered around a dozen seizures every day. The seizures began when the little girl was just 7 months old.

Adelaide's mother, Kelly, documented the little girl's heartbreaking battle on her blog. Just a few weeks ago, she wrote her daughter a heartfelt letter. "You will not be getting better this time. The skills you have lost will not be regained. I am so sorry that your body has betrayed you in this way. It is not fair and it really, really, really sucks," Kelly writes."...As we make this transition I will be trying to understand what you want and need to keep you as comfortable as possible. Please forgive the extra pictures and videos I'll be taking, I know I'll want to hold on to all the memories I can. It's the things I can't capture that I will miss the most: the way you smell, and not just after a bath, but your sweet, "just you" smell. The feel of your forever baby soft skin and how tightly you squeeze my fingers even still. The way your hair feels when I run my fingers through it trying to comfort you and the weight of your body against mine in those rare moments when you let me snuggle you."

Our hearts are with this beautiful child's family.

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This new family would like you to know they "don't have to match!"

When we saw Sadie Sampson's story of how her baby boy Ezra came into her life, we just had to know more about this loving new mother and her husband, Jarvis.

Their journey to parenthood was slow and then happened practically overnight. The couple went through a complicated fertility journey and had come to terms with the idea that pregnancy and parenthood would not be in their future.

But everything changes when Sadie got a random text message from a friend: "Would you guys foster/adopt a child?"

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To understand their story you have to go back to the beginning of their story. After getting married in 2017, the Texas couple was determined to have a baby. When Sadie didn't get pregnant she sought medical help, and doctors were quick to suggest her weight was the issue.

" 'Lose weight, and you'll get pregnant right away,' said every doctor I saw," Sampson wrote on Love What Matters. "I had tried to lose weight on my own for so long without success, so I started seeking out other options. In February 2019, I underwent gastric bypass surgery."

Sampson has been chronicling her weight loss since then on her Instagram page. Jarvis joined her, getting his surgery this summer. But still, she couldn't get pregnant.

A week after deciding she was going to put her dreams of parenthood aside, Sampson heard from a good friend of hers who had a random question for her.

"Well, a friend of mine, and her boyfriend are considering foster care or adoption for their son," the friend said. "I told them that I thought you guys would be a great fit."

The Sampsons said yes. They were even prepared to be only temporary foster parents for the baby, who was born prematurely. Just over a week after that phone call, a caseworker informed them that the birth mother would like them to adopt.

"We went from not having any children, to the possibility of fostering one, to, 'You guys are parents!,' overnight," Sampson wrote.

Her whole family had been away on a cruise while this was happening, and returned the day before the adoption took place.

"My mom was very confused at first," Sampson told Motherly. "But once I was able to explain everything we stood in the kitchen and jumped up and down and then ran into the living room and told everyone else."

Because this was happening privately, they needed only a lawyer and no agency involved in the paperwork. They were able to greet baby Ezra in the NICU just an hour after he became theirs.

"The first time I saw him it was so hard for me to grasp the fact that he was mine," Sampson told us. "It took a while for me to realize that he is my son and I am his mom."

Ezra is the name his birth parents, who are white, had chosen for him. "When Jarvis and I looked up the meaning, which is 'helper,' we couldn't think of a better fit."


Sadie and Jarvis posed for photos proudly proclaiming their adoption story. "Not Showing Still Glowing" reads Sadie's shirt, while Jarvis' tee says, "Families Don't Have to Match #Adoption." Friends and followers on Instagram helped the new family, buying baby supplies on their registry and donating funds for their final adoption process. Now, social media is where they're sharing all the typical milestones of new parenthood.

"We had one plan and God changed the game completely," she wrote on Instagram. "Ezra has given us a larger purpose and we've learned so much from him in the short two weeks he's been with us. Families DON'T have to match! They are built on LOVE!"

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As an ESPN anchor Kevin Negandhi talks to a lot of pro athletes. But as a parent he knows that sometimes raising kids is as hard as training for the big leagues (seriously, science proves that kids energy levels surpass endurance athletes' and parents are running after those kids).

Negandhi knows what it's like to be face-to-face with athletes that so many people idolize, but he also knows that a parent can be more influential than any big league idol, and that's why he's working with Dove Men+Care SPORTCARE to put real dads in the spotlight.

"We have a platform to showcase what they do as everyday athletes, but also as everyday men, everyday fathers," says Negandhi, who has three kids himself. He tells Motherly he tries to make sure he's active with his kids—playing sports with them so that they understand the importance of staying active—but also staying active with the kids when the touch football ends and the real parenting endurance test begins. Like many modern fathers, Negandhi is committed to doing more childcare than his own father did.

"My mom did everything in our house," he tells Motherly. "My dad worked, but my mom worked as well. And she did everything. She raised us. But at the same time she showed me another side. And many times growing up I said, 'How can I be different than my father?'"

Being involved with his kids and doing more of the unpaid work in his household than his own dad did is how Negandhi is doing it, and he's taking time to showcase three fellow dads who—while sharing their names with professional athletes—certainly don't get as much credit as the pros.

That is actually something of a problem in media right now. According to a recent survey by Dove Men+Care, 70% of men wish regular guys who are athletes (but not professionals) got more attention in sports media. Because as much as winning the Superbowl or making it to the major leagues should be celebrated, being a dad who is physically active and active in raising his kids should be celebrated, too.

Research shows that when kids grow up seeing dads exercise they are healthier, and while these three men happen to share their names with famous athletes, they don't get the same glory. So Negandhi and Dove Men+Care are giving these hard working dads some recognition.

Alvin Suarez

Alvin Suarez is teaching his kids that having a disability doesn't disqualify you from being an athlete. As a visually-impaired person, Alvin isn't the standard athlete we see represented in media. He plays Goalball, a sport that relies on keen ear-hand coordination, and he is certainly a keen father, chasing after his twin girls.

Alvin says the difference between sports and fatherhood is that you can train for sports, while parenthood takes you by surprise. "I try to be a good role model for my daughters and I want everyone to know that everyone has potential and that there is no such thing as a nobody."

Alvin has won championships as a Goalball player, but says holding his daughters in his arms for the first time was like winning a medal but multiplied by a million.

Sean Williams

Sean Williams is committed to his community and his kids. He uses physical fitness to connect with his kids and to, literally, save lives. A volunteer firefighter, Sean keeps fit so that he can use his body and energy to maximum impact. He isn't just changing the lives of people impacted by fires, but also his fellow dads.

The founder of The Dad Gang, an organization committed to celebrating and telling the real story of black fatherhood, Sean has created a space for dads to connect with their children and each other while staying active.

"One of the challenges we put out on social media is where you do pushups with our kids on our backs and that merges fatherhood and fitness," he explains.

If there was a Super Bowl for community service, Sean would be wearing the ring.

Chris Paul

A Marine Corps veteran, Chris needs a ton of energy to keep up with his blended family. It started out as an "all-girl Brady Bunch" he explains, as his wife and he had six daughters between them, but they've since added a boy to the family which now included seven kids. .

He's basically got his own sports team at home so it makes sense that Chris is super committed to staying fit for them. The Marine turned realtor takes time to help other dads in his community stay fit and knows when to draw boundaries to protect his time with his kids.

He's got some good endurance, but he's not going to work 15 hours a day when his kids are waiting at home for him. Chris says in former times dads were often passive figures in their kids' lives as the child rearing was done by others.

Like the other men, he's changing that. "I'm an active participant and I want to make sure that I can contribute to my children's lives."

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Back in 2017 when we learned Beyoncé was starring in a new remake of The Lion King I was thrilled. My son (my only child) was almost 2 years old and I told my partner I wanted The Lion King to be our son's first movie theatre experience. Going to see the original Lion King in a movie theatre was a big deal to me as a kid and I wanted to recreate that experience for my son.

Flash forward to July 2019 and The Lion King is in theaters—but my son and I are not. Turns out I really overestimated how long 3-year-olds can sit still. While my son loves watching 1994's Lion King at home (he always stands on the couch and lifts his stuffed animals to the sky during "Circle of Life") he's just not quite subdued enough for the cinema yet.

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So we have been waiting to see The Lion King at home, and now we finally can! October 11 marks the film's digital home video release, and the Blu-ray hits stores on October 22.

Rob Legato, a VFX supervisor on the film, tells Motherly that "the visuals are so well preserved on 4K and newer television sets that it is literally the mini theatre experience and you're not missing much by seeing it at home."

Basically, the digital version is going to be just as awesome as seeing it in theaters, except that we will be able to pause for potty breaks and my kiddo can stand on his seat pretending to be Rafiki without blocking anyone's view.

The movie is, of course, incredible, but so are the animals it's based on. Screening the movie at home is an amazing way to start conversations with your kids about the various animals in the film as they are of course more similar to the real animals they are based on then their animated counterparts were in 1994.

The filmmakers went to Africa to research the animals they were bringing to life and they also spent a ton of time at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve inside Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida watching various species to try to make their movements as realistic as possible. There, 34 species live on 110 acres and the filmmakers got to watch them closely, making this film incredibly detailed.

Some of the animal experts who work with these animals on a daily basis say that when they watch The Lion King, they can actually tell which characters are based on which of the animals they know in real life.

"This film presented a really wonderful and unique opportunity to bring the production crew to the animals here at Disney's Animal Kingdom. They spent about 6 weeks here collecting reference footage of the animals here and we partnered really closely with the animal care teams at Disney's Animal Kingdom to make sure that all of the filming that we were doing, the impact to the animals was minimized," says Jon Ross of Disney's Animals in TV and Film department

The film crew watched the animals from a distance, which is something families can also do at Disney's Animal Kingdom by taking the Kilimanjaro Safari or staying in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, where giraffes and other animals can be seen right from hotel balconies.

But the work Disney is doing with the animals is more than a tourist attraction. The company is serious about conservation and protecting the animal species featured in the park and in its films. "Tied to the Lion King film we launched the Protect the Pride initiative," Claire Martin of Disney's Conservation & Partnerships team tells Motherly. "We realized that we'd lost half of the world's lions since the first Lion King film debuted and we want to turn that around, so we're working with the Wildlife Conservation Network's Lion Recovery Fund to help their vision to double the amount of lions in the wild by 2050," she explains.

Marin suggests that parents watching The Lion King with their kids can use the film to talk to their children about conservation issues and continue the education long after the end credits roll. "We encourage people to learn more, visit the website, get involved and learn more about how they can make an impact on lions and other wildlife across Africa," says Martin.

Through the website, parents can even download an activity packet (you can print it and make your kids a cool book) with all kinds of information and cool activities and to help kids feed their lion obsession in an educational way even when screen time is over.

The Lion King is available to stream now and will be on Blu-ray October 22 (with even more educational features about the animals!)

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