Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why I Rise Early

How do you start your mornings?

Nowadays, I tend to rise early, at least as often as I can.  This hasn't always been the case.  I used to sleep in in any chance I got and even on work days/school days I would hit the snooze 2 or 3 (or more sometimes).

As with age and time, we go through different seasons in our lives.  These all change and as they do, so does our need for sleep.  Add in kids to the mix and now your sleep schedule tends to be dependent on them.

There is an importance to tuning into your body clock.  Finding that natural sleep rhythm helps days go more smoothly, you have more energy, and things just overall feel more balanced.  It is natural for us to rise with the sun and go to bed when it goes down.  But what do you do in the middle of the Winter in Minnesota when the sun doesn't wake until 8, but goes down at 4?  It makes it hard to keep that same rhythm.

I have found that the time I naturally wake up (during months when the sun is up at a more reasonable time) is right around 6:00.  So during the shorter sun days, I set my alarm to help continue it.

Beyond getting up at the same time as often as we can, it can go a long way in the day by having a reason to get up.  Yes, kids are a reason, but when we are startled awake when we hear them, that changes things.  Having a reason to get up, to rise early, before the kiddos do makes getting up easier and you can ease into the day.

For the longest time I would sleep until the last minute, quickly get ready for the day, and head out.  It went that way, day in and day out, that it became habit.  Then I had kids and my sleep schedule became dependent on them.  It wasn't until their sleep regulated, that I could go back and reset mine.

I will be honest, in our house we are early to rise and early to bed.  My oldest, almost 5, starts his bedtime routine at 6:30 and is generally asleep around 7:30.  My 2 year old is 7:00.  But on the other end, both are up early, by 7 most days.  It works for us for many reasons and even more importantly it fits with their sleep rhythm the best.

Now that both my kids have generally fallen into a more predictable sleep routine, I can reset mine.  I can regularly, with ease wake before the kiddos and gain some much needed quiet time to start the day.

I have come to the conclusion of this:
  • If I choose to sleep in, it will leave me with less time to get ready for the day, less quiet time before the kids wake up.  Which, ever now and then is needed, but ultimately leads to feeling discombobulated if I let it happen too many days in a row.  Things just don't seem to run as smoothly, energy wears out quicker (patience sometimes too), and I am left unbalanced.
  • If I wake (and go to bed) consistently at the same time I feel like I have more energy, I get to have some longer quiet time, and have the time to get ready for the day.  The day seems less chaotic, I feel more ready for the day, and have energy (usually) to carry me through. 
The flow of the day seems to be different either way I choose.  I choose to have the latter, where I wake more often (on my own) before the kiddos do.

If you have a purpose to get up early, it makes it easier.  Turning over and starting to fiddle with your phone sifting through emails and social media probably isn't the best thing to do right away, but there are other ways you can ease into the morning.  Just save the technology until you are more awake.

Making a morning routine out of it all, beyond getting ready for the day, can go along way.  But where do you start?

I have done several things to get me started.  Reading and listening to Andy Andrews on the topic of rising early got me started years back, before kids.  But the "Rise and Shine~10 Day Challenge" from Shawn  was what I did, twice now since having kiddos.  Each time after my son's sleep schedule became more predictable.

It is a free 10 day challenge where she sends tasks by email to complete to help set you up for success to rise early.  It all comes down to what you want your mornings to look like.  You can sign up for the challenge by clicking here.

I finally got into a natural rhythm as we entered Fall.  I wanted to rise early as often as I could, to have some quiet time before the natural noises of the day take place once everyone wakes up.

I knew I wanted to incorporate time with God each morning (and evening too) so I found a devotional that was a good fit.  I had come across the devotion "Sunset with God" years ago when it was gifted to me.  It has been by far my favorite one to read through.  So, I went with that and found a "Daybreak with God" version.

I also began working through the book "Pressing Pause: 100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus" by Karen Ehman and Ruth Scwenk.  This journal book offers a scripture, story, and a few questions to think on.  They are short and meant to do when you have a few minutes.  But you can also go deeper and take longer if you have the time.  I was blessed to be gifted this book.

With the start of the new year, I am changing things up a little.  I still rise early, I get ready, I still maintain a focus on God, and I journal.  Then I run through emails and social media quickly.  If I have extra time or if an idea for my blog comes to mind or I need to write openly, I will write or at least jot down some notes so I can come back to it later depending on how much time I have.  Sometimes, if the thoughts are pressing, I save the emails and social media for later and write.

I always keep a notebook next to me (a great idea I got from Jill Savage) to write down any wondering thoughts, things that needed to get done, or for some quick journaling on the side.  I also use the same notebook to take time to write out blog posts or at leas post ideas that come to my mind. I seem to be able to write better in the morning, but don't always have time to type it up.  So I jot down a few mental notes to help me remember so I can go back to it later in the day.

But instead of using the devotion book and the pressing pause book, I am working through my Brave stuff.  What is Brave stuff?

I got an amazing opportunity take part in a book launch team for "Brave Moms, Brave Kids".  When I received the book I received a "My Child Be Brave" card and Brave Bookmarks (where one side is verse and the other is a prayer).  I use one of the bookmarks as my focus for a period of time, reading through the verse and then doing the prayer.  I move onto the Brave card, then finish with the journal.

My sister in law gave me the "Start Where You Are" journal for Christmas.  I am just a couple of pages into it.  I am trying to be intentional as I go through it  and seeing where it leads.

I share this all with you, one because I want to share ideas of how one can rise early, even with having kiddos. And two, because I know it's hard to get started sometimes.  Sometimes we even have to start over and begin again.  So, I wanted to share how I have been managing it and working through it all.

This year, I want to be more intentional with my time.  Those quiet moments are not only important self care, but they are important in the way I connect.  Connect with God, my family, myself, and the day.  To learn more about who I am and tap more into my heart.  To help move past the fear, the anxiety, and the negative self critical inside voice.

So, how do you start your mornings? 

With mornings, ending the day with a similar quiet time routine is a great way to settle into bed for the night.  If you want to read more on my evening routine click here.