Rise and Shine: How to Stay Motivated in the Morning

My kids are early risers—to put it mildly. They’re usually up before the clock strikes 6 (ugh) giggling and yelling and competing for my undivided attention. Yes, it can be exhausting and exasperating. But it’s real life. Moreover, it’s #momlife, and it’s hard to stay mad at those sweet, eager faces—even at 5-friggin’-45 AM. (Okay, maybe I resent them a little at that unfathomable hour. I mean, it’s still dark outside for crying out loud!) Nevertheless, I get out of my delicious king-size bed to tend to their wants, needs, and whims. (It must be nice to be two and four.)

There’s no sugarcoating the fact that it truly stinks to be abruptly woken from a peaceful sleep by an absurdly energetic toddler. (How do they wake up with so much instantaneous joie de vivre?!) I used to try to bribe them to climb into my bed and get a few extra zzz’s or I’d turn on the TV in my room and hope they’d get sucked into some Disney Junior. Sometimes it worked for fifteen minutes. Usually, it didn’t. But, at the beginning of the year, I resolved to “become” a morning person—to train myself to stop hating the wee hours and to kick-start my days with purpose, focus, and even a begrudging smile. It hasn’t been the easiest learning curve, and I’ve had a few not-so proud moments (“GO BACK TO SLEEP, YOU LITTLE DEMONS!”), but I have to say, overall, I’ve really started liking my revamped morning routine. Instead of “slothing” my way through the 5 to 7 AM parenting shift, I’ve carved out some extra time to accomplish the day’s goals.

I’m sharing my top 10 tips for defeating the morning fog and embracing the AM for all my fellow sleepyhead baby-and-toddler mamas out there. So brew a cup—or rather a carafe—of caffeinated goodness, pull up a chair, and get reading!

Drink All the Coffee
You know those “hilarious” coffee cups that feature descending lines that say “shhhhh,” “almost there,” “now you may speak.” Yep, that’s me. The very first thing I do when I come downstairs is brew a pot of coffee. (I really should figure out how to set the timer for auto-brew.) My kids know to back off their requests until I push the big button and the aroma of ground beans starts to fill the air.

I think the effectiveness is 50 percent mental. Which is why I’ve started brewing half-caffeinated, half-decaf pots every morning in attempt to lower my intake, and, um, you know my blood pressure too.

And Also Ice-Cold Water
Don’t like coffee? No worries. Fill up a big tall glass with ice, water, and a squeeze of lemon, and slowly drink it down. Hydration is the answer to everything (okay, almost everything), and this refreshing drink will get things moving. While you’re at it, splash some cold water on your face and pat a little under your eye area if you’re lids are still hanging heavy.

Make an Actual Breakfast
I don’t eat breakfast. I’ve dabbled with smoothies, but I just don’t like eating at 6 or 7 AM. Of course, my growing babies are “starving” the second they get up out of their beds. I admittedly rely on toast or frozen waffles in a pinch. But when it’s extra early, I’ll make something that requires a little more time and effort, like baked banana bread or buckwheat pancakes. The kids like to help and get in on the action, and it’s an easy way to create a meaningful moment and memory as a family. I can’t think of a better way to start the day as a family… besides sleeping.

Flood the House With Light
Like I said, my kids frequently rise before the sun. But the second I see a glimmer from outside, I open the blinds and windows and let in as much natural light as possible. Seasonal affect disorder is a real thing, and some Vitamin D is the best cure for winter-morning cabin fever.

Rely on Screen Time
You gotta do what you gotta do, Mom. I want to keep “busy” in the morning, but I also want to avoid playing with my kids no the floor the second I’ve gotten up. It takes two or three cups o coffee until I have the patience to make believe and practice pretend. So put on some ABC Mouse or an educational TV program and plop the kiddies down for 30 minutes or an hour. Or more, when necessary. No judgment here.

Bring Out the Designated “Morning Toys”
I try to encourage independent play whenever possible—especially in the morning. That’s why I bring out the designated building blocks. They emerge for a limited time only in the AM, so the kids are excited to use them while they’re out.

Get Cracking on Work
I find that since I’ve started this routine, my mornings are my most successful time of day. The kids are not complaining, they’re fed, they’re entertained, and I have a bonus hour to get so much accomplished. It feels so good to get those emails out, tweets scheduled, posts written, and pins pinned at 6:30 AM—so much checked off the to-do list so early in the day! Win-win.

Stretch, Mediate, or Exercise
Once the kids are settled, take 10 minutes to stretch out your tired body, mediate quietly and reflect on the day, or get a quick cardio workout in, if possible. Get your body going and your blood pumping.

Take a Shower
I know this should be a given, but sometimes it’s not. We’re so busy taking care of the people around us—getting the kids’ teeth brushed, dressed, and fed, that we can easily forget to put ourselves together. Steal 15 minutes when the littles are busy for a brisk shower. You’ll feel so much better for it!

Get Out of the PJ Rut
My four year old goes to Pre-K in the morning, so I’m forced to get him out of pajamas and into real-life clothes. But I used to neglect doing the same for myself and my daughter. We’d roll up to nursery school drop-off in our finest, er, sleepwear. Get the ball rolling and make sure everyone is dressed—yourself included—first thing. It’ll motivate you to get out of your rut.

Escape the Mayhem
The kids are off from school next week (ah!), and that means the usual routine is interrupted. I find that these are the times that getting out of the house matters most. So stick to a schedule, get the kids dressed (see above), and escape the house. Go to Starbucks or the diner for an early breakfast—or hit Target (it’s open early). An outing does the body, mind, and soul good. Even if you’re still not a morning person. (I’m a work in progress too!)

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