How + Why You Should Be Waking Up Early as a Mom

They say the early bird gets the worm. I say the early mom gets the tranquility. And the worm too. But we’re getting to that. Years ago I made one of the best decisions of my mom career. I started waking up earlier than my children. 

Waking up early as a mom might seem like such a simple thing, maybe not even worth writing about. Maybe you think you’re already doing this when your kids wake you up super early? But there’s a difference between being jarred awake by a screaming toddler and waking up with intention and purpose to tackle your mama to-do-list. 

But I promise you, the journey here wasn’t an easy one that does warrant explanation. Nor were the cascading benefits afterwards. Ironically, waking up earlier as a mom helped me feel more well-rested and productive. In fact, I found that once I started waking up earlier than my kids, many of my motherhood time-management woes got solved. 

So mama, I invite you to join me in the early-bird-mama-club. Tiptoe through your bedroom halls quietly over to your (much-needed at this hour) coffee pot, as I walk you through how I started waking up earlier than my kids, and the tremendous benefits it had! 

I was craving time alone.

My need to wake up earlier than my kids all started during a summer break when my kids were home from school. I wanted some time to myself. Because they were home for the summer, their bedtime was later than normal (or quite honestly, nonexistent some nights as tends to happen during summer break), and often we would all go to sleep at the same time at night. 

I adore my kids. But I needed daily time to myself. I was craving time to myself. I also knew that I felt my most productive in the mornings. Therefore during the school year my greatest workload is usually tackled in the mornings, and it’s easy to do this when it’s just me in the house.  

I was also craving the daily exercise I was used to getting on their school days, that I was now missing out on with them home. (Have you ever tried to exercise with young kids around? Let’s just say I’ve almost sprained my ankle one too many times getting my foot stuck in the Peloton Bike pedal hurriedly trying to get to my kids before they harm each other.) 

I could see that this time to myself was not going to happen in the evenings. I couldn’t simply send my summer vacationing kids to bed early so that I could be alone. And I also didn’t want to sacrifice our valuable family time in the evenings. I could find only one window of time I could make this alone time happen: early mornings.  

One morning, I ripped the band-aid off the 6:00 a.m. alarm.

One night I decided the next morning that I was going to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. For summer break that was early for me, since I didn’t officially have anywhere to go in the morning until my kids woke up. It was hard. I was not looking forward to it. I even questioned my sanity. 

What kind of mother wakes up at the crack of dawn on summer break when she doesn’t have school drop-off, lunch packing duty, and/or a super early morning workout out of necessity? But I told myself I would try this for a week and see what happens. Worst case scenario, I’ll have called it a failed experiment and go back to my normal 8:00 a.m. routine. 

It was just the kick out of bed I needed.

Driven with the idea of solitude and the possibility of being productive while alone, I tried this and set my alarm for 6:00 for a week. I’ll be honest, the first morning was hard. I had to talk myself into getting out of bed, and although I didn’t hit the snooze button, I was about 10 minutes behind getting out of bed than I had originally planned. Looking out the window I questioned my sanity even more, as the sun was barely out.  

But then sitting there on my couch with the light of a dimly lit lamp, feeling cozy underneath my light summer blanket, mug of steaming coffee in hand, as I peacefully scrolled through my phone, had me grateful for this time to myself. I could hear the birds outside. I saw the sun rising. It was beautiful and serene. I could feel myself smiling peacefully. 

The second morning was much easier. Not only did I not stay in bed for more than a few minutes after my alarm rang, but I got up excitedly. I was looking forward to that cozy time to myself, and couldn’t wait to get there.

By day four I was converted. I knew there was no way I could go back to sleeping in at almost the same time as my kids. I couldn’t function that way productively, efficiently, and mentally anymore.  

A few things happened when I started waking up earlier than my kids that were profound.

I had more time to complete tasks, therefore I was more efficient as a mom. I was happier because I put myself first, therefore I was happier as a mom. And I don’t just mean that I put myself before my kids, as all mothers know we should do but rarely actually do. I mean that I actually put myself first: I made MYSELF the very first priority of my busy day. 

6:00 a.m.–first thing in the morning–I was my first priority because nobody else was around. Especially since May was Mental Health Awareness Month, I think this is a very important thing to note. I realized that by choosing to wake up earlier than my children, I wasn’t just adding more hours to my work day because scrolling through social media at 6:30 a.m. isn’t exactly going to get me ahead in my job. But it was better for my mental health, and mindset. 

I had time to not only sit and scroll through social media like I wanted, but I could read, exercise, plan my day, sip my coffee peacefully, fill up my water cup before anyone else’s, and do anything else I wanted without children (and spouse) hands and words calling at me. And when everyone else woke up, I was ready for them. 

It’s still ongoing.

Since that summer, I haven’t stopped waking up earlier than my family. I wake up at 6:00 a.m. every single day. And on the days I don’t, I do feel a lack in my productivity, mental health, and mindset. 

It’s a priority for me in order to be the best mom I can. This is still the time I do all of the above, and it’s almost like giving myself a gift of time back to myself, as all of us moms know that extra hours in the day are hard to find. 

Tips For Waking Up Early As a Mom

I don’t like when I add in a new habit and never keep it going. I believe that in order for any habit to be sustainable, it has to realistically fit into my lifestyle. Waking up early is one of them. So I developed some criteria to make it manageable and sustainable for myself that I’ll share with you as well. 

Pick a wake-up time that is manageable for you.

Just because I wake up at 6:00 a.m. doesn’t mean that’s the right time for you. If that’s too early, choose 6:30. If you have younger kids who wake up at 9:00, choose 7:00. I’ve seen tons of moms who wake up at 5:00 a.m., but I know that simply won’t work for me so I won’t attempt it yet and set myself up for failure. 

Start in small time increments.

Start by moving your alarm back by 15 or 20 minutes for two weeks, and then move it back further as needed. 

Don’t jump into your work right away.

This is just a suggestion, but I do believe we’re more likely to stick with this if we’re doing something fun for ourselves. For me that’s watching YouTube or reading something entertaining—something that makes me happy. After that, I jump into my work because I’m ready to. 

Get ready for the morning right when you wake up.

No matter how early it is and how tired I might be, once I get up and wash my face, brush my teeth, and get my workout clothes on, I automatically feel like I’m ready to start the day. That tired feeling melts away once that water splashes my face. 

Give yourself grace.

There are some mornings I’m simply too tired to wake up at 6:00 a.m. I might have had a long night before that, or I need extra rest, or I simply just don’t feel like it. All of these are valid reasons to give myself grace for that morning and try again the next day. 

The day might be long, but it will be a better one.

This season of life where we have to add more hours in the day in order to find time for ourselves is just that: a season. I know that eventually when my days are fully mine again because my kids are off at college or moved out I’ll look back on these days fondly, remembering how I used to sit in the semi-darkness before dawn drinking my coffee in silence while my kids slept in their rooms next to me.

Remember this mama—the days might be long but the years are short. However, the earlier mornings make the days just a little bit longer with tranquility.

You can also find more time for yourself by setting firm boundaries. Faten shares examples of how to set boundaries and why it’s so important to do so!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.