By Guest Blogger Laura Simon
Ever have one of those moments where you step back, look around you, and acknowledge that things are just not working? That was me, last week. I mean, life with three small children, work, and adult responsibilities is bound to be hectic. But I’ve been feeling more than hectic. I’ve been feeling “off,” like when you oversleep and have to spend the whole day trying to catch that hour you lost. I could blame the time change, but honestly this has been going on for months, probably since the LAST time change. And things probably would have kept going on this way, expect that the Bachelor ended last week, giving me a wide open block of time to consider my current status as a hot mess.
Here’s my earth-shattering realization. And I’m going to warn you: I hate it.
I feel like a train wreck because I’ve been sleeping in.
Not later than my kids or anything. I mean, my two-year-old still needs me to get her out of the crib (thank goodness for that), and she’s not shy about letting the neighborhood know she’s up. But I have, on most days, been staying in bed until I hear the first tiny footsteps…and the slam of the bathroom door and the crash of the toilet seat…that invariably tells me my middle son is awake. And hungry. He is not a pleasant hungry person, either, so my own first minutes of the day involve diffusing a ticking time bomb while changing the baby’s diaper, throwing toast in the toaster and wiping sleep out of my eyes. Sometimes I stop in the middle of the kitchen and realize I can’t even remember how I got down the stairs.
But last summer, when things felt better? When I felt better? I had some big work projects, and I was feeling the pressure to create time to get them done. I was trying to maintain my running mileage through the hot, muggy, misery of a North Carolina summer. As much as I hated it, I quickly realized that the best solution was setting my alarm for 5 am. Every morning, I crawled out of bed and spent a blissfully quiet hour with my laptop before grabbing a flashlight and mace and heading out for a morning run. By the time I got back 45 minutes later, the sun was up, I was drowning in a sea of humidity, and I had just enough time to grab a shower before my tiny tribe woke up at 7.
When they did wake up, I had a nice runner’s high, which for me is stronger than any form of coffee, and a sense of professional accomplishment. And I had my clothes on. And I’d showered. I was ready to be present for kids because I’d already been present for myself, if that makes sense. In many ways, it mimicked my life when I worked outside the home: my day started with alone time. And I need alone time.
I think I fell off the wagon when the time and the weather changed. It’s one thing to go for a run when it is 70 degrees at 6 am. It’s an entirely different story when the temperature hovers around freezing. Frankly, sometimes I need twelve hours of wakefulness to convince myself to put on my tights and step into that frigid weather. There are plenty of workouts that I can do in my living room, but let’s face it, there’s something about fall and winter and all that darkness and Christmas cookies and wine that makes staying in bed sound like the best possible idea.
While I’m being honest, there’s also the fact that I spent fourteen years waking up at 5 am for my job as a high school teacher, and it still feels like a novelty to stay in bed any later. Those of you who are teachers know how angry you get when your internal clock wakes you up early during break. I still kind of feel like I’m on break, and I should be taking advantage of it! Except that I’m not. This is my life now, and I need to do it well.
I read an article a few months ago about the characteristics that define moms who are enjoying their mom life – thriving even – instead of suffering through it. In addition to the obvious ones like supportive communities and partners, it mentioned that “happy” moms wake up before their kids. Given the state of chronic sleep deprivation that defines most of us, that just sounds crazy. But before I went to bed last night, I decided to set my alarm for a more reasonable 6 am. I figured it would give me time to do a Fitness Blender workout, take a shower, and write for a few minutes before the kids made an appearance.
Of course, like everything else in life, day one didn’t go according to plan. Getting up is a lot harder when you aren’t afraid of getting fired if you oversleep. (Seriously, who’s going to fire me? Who would make dinner or do the laundry?) I rolled out of bed and collapsed in the fetal position on the floor somewhere around 6:20, but I’m fighter and somehow I managed to lace up my shoes in the dark. I also underestimated my daughter’s status as the world’s lightest sleeper, and by the time I tiptoed downstairs to cue up the workout, she was terrified she was missing something.
I still worked out – with a little assistant who, frankly, does a better burpee than I do. And I still took my shower, but I had company – the kind of company that finds Vaseline in the drawer and uses it as an adhesive to stick the contents of the first aid kid and every feminine product in sight to the master bathroom vanity. At least I was energized and clean while I wiped down her modern art installation, right? And I did feel better throughout the day. Markedly better.
And so, my workout clothes are sitting out and my alarm is already set for tomorrow. I hope my sidekick will stay asleep until 7 this time.
If you’re like me, stuck in a rut of stress and hurry, I challenge you to give it a try. Figure out what waking up early looks like for your family and make it happen. Take control of your day before it takes control of you.
Oh, and anyone want a 6am running partner? I’m available.