This is how my mornings looked like, some time ago:
I would wake-up when my (then only) child was calling me out from her her crib. This was usually between 5:30 - 6:30 AM. I stumbled to the kitchen, fixed a bottle, gave it to her then proceeded with changing diapers and choosing her clothes. I would brush my teeth and get dressed, spending five foggy minutes in front of the fridge debating what we should have for breakfast. Each time I would return to my classic "oats and raisins" and dismiss the eggs or toast due to the obvious extra work required.
I would put on the TV for my daughter so I would have some quiet and brain capacity to jump start my day with a cup of tea. Then feed her in front of the TV to avoid the dragging, delaying and complaining about my choice of breakfast.
When we finished eating, I would prepare something for her lunch box and walk to the daycare. Once I was back home, I cleaned up, got another tea and finally had the luxury to start thinking about starting my work. It would be 10 o'clock before I would be deep in it, but by then I had to start thinking about what to cook for lunch and dinner, do some shopping and pick her up from daycare.
My days were messy; I felt messy and exhausted. ALL THE TIME!
The mornings felt overwhelming, I wanted silence, but I had a toddler, I didn’t want to prepare breakfast, be tired, nor have my cup of tea so late.
One day, I heard a question that struck as an epiphany:
How would this be like if it were easy?
It hit me like a brick because until then, I never stopped to pause long enough to rethink how I was conducting my morning. I was on auto-pilot, imagining that somehow, maybe when my child was older, more independent or just when “the right time” will come, it would all get easier. I was in reactive mode, going “with the punches.”
In a moment of clarity, I allowed myself to dream of an easy life:
For me, easy would mean that I got my silence and tea before I need to attend to other people, no matter how big or small they are.
Easy would mean to have breakfast ready and lunch boxes ready (including my own)
Easy would mean I didn’t have to decide on the spot what my kid and I would wear.
Easy would mean I wouldn’t feel like I was constantly running out of hours.
Easy would mean I didn't have to make so many small decisions.
Easy would mean not to be agitated and feeling I was late or rushing through every single moment of the day.
It was so obvious once I saw it written down:
I had to wake up before somebody else was deciding to wake me up.
I decided to use a silent alarm, get up before anyone else in the house and spend those minutes regrouping my thoughts.
In my newfound time, I put together a meal plan that made breakfast delicious again, and not always the same quick meal.
Then I decided to select the clothes for myself and the kids the night before.
I now use dinner leftovers to prepare the lunch boxes and add bulk made items such as hard boiled eggs, cooked lentils or quinoa, mini frittatas, meatballs or vegetable sticks.
But after I took care of the practicalities of food choices and clothing, I was left with enough time to pursue my soul’s desires. I started doing things that filled me with joy: I started meditating, walking, writing and reading.
In those moments of silence, I understood that as the mom, I am responsible for setting up the tone for the day.
If my needs are met, I can be the calm, patient, happy mom I want to be. If my soul is filled, the day would be carried out from a place of enough-ness.
If it needs to happen, it needs to happen FIRST. And I finally realized that what needed to happen for me to have an easy and happy life was self-care.
It might look different for you.
But by being intentional with my time early in the morning, I was setting myself up for success before anyone else was up.
I now have three kids under 5, I run my own business from home, and my family moves countries every two years. To say that my life is busy and hectic is an understatement. But what is different now is that when my kids are awake are ready to start THEIR day, I am ready to welcome them into MY day that is already going very well.
And I have my early mornings and alarm clock to thank for this radical change in my life.