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I recently declared that I am a night owl and always have been. I somehow (usually) get a second wind after my children go to bed and suddenly want to write a novel, watch three episodes of Master of None and redecorate our home via my decor board on Pinterest.

I don't know if that will ever fully change, but I do know that I need to stop going to bed around midnight almost every night. Because it doesn't benefit anyone.

Plus, I recently got a taste of the early bird life, and I (surprisingly) liked it!

For a few months, I was able to wake up around 5-5:30 in the morning and either workout or get work done. All before my kids woke up. All in quiet. All with focus and determination.

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Then, the busyness of life took over and I slipped back into my old ways of going to bed super late and waking up in the morning at the same time as my kids. On days like this, I feel like I'm automatically playing catch up on productivity.

So, what do I do?

Well, I think September is the perfect time to reflect on and refocus our goals. I haven't been a student in a long time, but the end of August stills gives me those back-to-school feelings. It feels like a fresh start—a time to get back on track if you've fallen off the wagon.

As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, says in her latest podcast episode, “September is the other January."

We couldn't agree more.

If you're craving a better morning routine, here are a few ways that'll help.

1. Take baby steps

My night owl persona and my early bird persona need to compromise with one another.

Sometimes when I want to make these life changes, I set unrealistic expectations like, “I need to wake up earlier. I'm going to set my alarm for 4:30 am" Or, “I need to lose 15 pounds. I'm going to go to the gym five days a week."

Sure—these might be great goals for someone else or even me one day—but right now these goals would just be setting myself up for failure.

Instead, I'll start my goal of going to bed earlier with an 11 pm bedtime versus midnight. I'll set my alarm for a 6 am wake up call. This way, I'll still have time to myself at night and get some quiet, productive time in the morning before my kids wake up. Then, maybe 11 pm could turn into 10:30, 10, etc. And 6 am could turn into 5:30, 5:00, etc.

For me, baby steps usually work better than large leaps at one time.

2. Choose the morning

To me, nighttime is wonderful. It has always felt like my time. It will always tempt me. But is it the best choice for me?

Probably not. So, I will aim to choose more mornings than evenings—fresher brain cells over sleepy brain cells.

It doesn't hurt that some experts validate this too. I asked Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time what she thought about late nights. She said, “The problem with evening hours is people are generally too tired to do much but watch TV. You're probably not going to go run in the dark at night, nor are you going to start work on your novel when the Bachelorette is calling. We're tapped out by this time and don't have much energy. So we wind up puttering around the house, watching TV, or cruising social media."

Soo, maybe less TV, more to-do...?

3. Be proactive

Vanderkam explains, “Being proactive in the morning allows us to be more reactive the rest of the day."

And this can look different for different people. As Vanderkam says, “There are lots of things that can make a good morning routine. You can get a workout in. You can spend quiet time with your coffee thinking about creative work or big projects that are hard to tackle with the distractions at the office. You can do spiritual activities or other reflective activities like journaling.

Bring on the me time.

4. Prioritize the night before

In an article from her blog, Vanderkam suggests writing your to-do list for the next day before you go to sleep. “We tend to have more focus and motivation in the morning, so if you know what your most important tasks are for any given day, and roughly when you'll do them, you can spend your energy on execution, rather than deciding what deserves your attention. Even if something is undone, you know when it will get done, which can help you relax at night."

Preparation is key. ?

5. Make the best choice for me

Finally, Vanderkam explains that for many mothers, it's better to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier in search of “me time." She said, “Mornings are a great time for getting stuff done. This is time you can have for yourself before everyone wants a piece of you. When we accomplish great things in the morning, that sense of victory provides motivation for the rest of the day. By the time the rest of the world is eating breakfast, you've already made progress toward your life goals."

Solid morning routine = #lifegoals. ⏰

I know I want to make these changes because staying up super late isn't a sustainable life plan.

So this September, I'm going to give my new morning routine the old college try. I mean, it is back-to-school season after all, isn't it?

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Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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As mamas we want our babies to be safe, and that's what makes what happened to Glee actress Naya Rivera and her 4-year-old son Josey so heartbreaking. Late Wednesday night news broke that Rivera was missing and presumed drowned after her 4-year-old son, Josey, was found floating alone on a rented boat on Lake Piru in Ventura County, California.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ventura County Sheriff's Department Capt. Eric Buschow said the mother and her preschooler were swimming near the boat Wednesday afternoon. Josey got back into the rented boat after the swim but his mother did not. The preschooler was later found by other boaters, sleeping alone in the boat. Rescuers were able to figure out who he was because Rivera's wallet and identification were on the boat.

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Our hearts are breaking for Josey and his dad right now. So much is unknown about what happened on Lake Piru but one thing is crystal clear: Naya Rivera has always loved her son with all her heart.

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