For the past 3 months, I have been getting up at 5am to write.  No, I am not crazy, nor do I have insomnia.  In fact, I really like sleep, especially since my 2 year-old has been around.  And I could probably use more of it, yes. But I’ve realized a few things about my own well-being since beginning this routine that I feel could be useful to share.

Getting up early beats staying up late.  I would rather be up before dawn with my coffee and my computer, tapping away in the cozy silence of the house than sprawled out on the couch at night half-watching a show that I really don’t care about.  It’s easier to put off bedtime in favour of sword-fighting, crime-fighting, swashbuckling heroes, but I realized that the satisfaction I gleaned from getting up early beats the pants off any contrived story line.

Here is where I get to write my own story.  I get to do whatever I want with this hour, before the house begins to stir.  At night, after fighting battles of my own all day, my brain is done. I’m not in the mood for any creative endeavours. When the day is new, my brain is fresh… once I’ve started to drink my coffee.

You gotta grab your “me-time” where you can.  I don’t know about you, but my daughter is a non-stop toddling tornado of activity.  Once she’s up, she’s on full-throttle.  And that means I have to be, too.  At work, it’s the same thing – I’m there to get things done and treat my clients.  Lunch is often grabbed between clients, and rare minutes of downtime are filled with paperwork and decision-making.  And then after work, more toddler fun, cleanup (if I’m lucky), grab a few minutes with my husband, and… I have nothing left.  Day after day of that was making me a cranky mess.

Grabbing my bit of “me-time” in the early hours allows me to start the day the way I want – I’m on my own time, doing what I want to do – writing, checking Facebook or Pinterest, reading blog posts.  And even if it’s the only time I get to myself today, it’s something.

Morning people are more successful.  Studies have shown the earlier you rise to greet the day, the more successful you are.  Hey, I’ll take that!  Early-morning rituals can be anything you choose – exercise, meditation, reading the paper, whatever you please – but studies show that early risers tend to be better prepared to face the challenges of the day, and are also more likely to set and follow through with goals.

I can totally relate to this.  When I get up early, even when I’m groggy at first (which, hey, let’s face it, is every day), I feel like I’m winning.  Even if I spend my first ten minutes reading entertainment news, by the time the house is awake I’ve gotten rid of the grogs and begun my To Do list for the day.  I’ve sent off two or three emails. I’ve signed my daughter up for swimming lessons. I’ve researched reviews on those two types of juicers I was considering buying.  It’s only 6am and already I’ve had multiple successes.

Managing my minutes lets me manage my mood.  Sure, I’m occasionally (okay, frequently) a little annoyed that the alarm is bleeping at me at the ungodly hour of 5am.  I don’t have a smile on my face as I’m padding downstairs in my robe and slippers to get my coffee.  And I’m not really amenable to conversation for at least the first 20 minutes I’m awake.  But that’s ok. I have my own company and only my own, and that means that I have no one’s needs to accommodate but mine.

Those minutes that I allowed for before the family rouses allow me to naturally wake at my own pace.  And that way, when my daughter bounds out of bed with all her 2 year-old enthusiasm and wants-to-go-downstairs-right-now-mummy-and-can-we-play-mega-blocks-NOW? I’m not grouchy and resentful that I’ve been yanked out of a lovely sleep. I can be present with her and connect for a few minutes. I can also bring my husband a coffee without wanting to steal it on him, because I know he’ll appreciate it and because I’m able to think of something else at that point other than holy crap do I have to get up now?

 

At first, I thought it was crazy too.  But you know what?  I’ve come to appreciate the way the sky looks right before dawn, like it’s peeling off layers of darkness one by one to reveal the light underneath.  I’ve gotten used to sipping my coffee in solitude, wrapped in a warm robe, waking up at my own pace.  5am is not only a great start to my day now, but it sets the tone for the rest of my day to be great.  Try it! I’d love to know what you think.

See you soon,

Jen