On Waking Up Before My Children

books-coffee-morning image via

For as long as I can remember, Elliott and I have gotten up in the morning with our kids. A little voice calling, “Maaaama!” is the signal that our day has begun. One of us stumbles out of bed, bleary-eyed, and brings that baby back to bed with us, and then the three (and eventually four) of us wake up together.

It sounds deliciously relaxed and cozy to start the day this way, but most of the time it’s really not. It’s whines of “I want breakfast now” and more fussing than seems fair and a general sense that the day has gotten away from you before you were ready for it to begin.

So this week… I started waking up before my kids. Ok, it’s Tuesday, so we’ll see if it lasts! But I knew this week I needed a little extra time to get my bearings in the morning. Elliott’s out of town, my dad is staying with us, and thus I’m facing a week of solo parenting. In order to parent and serve with grace and patience, I’ll need to know my limits and guard them carefully.

Thus far, by the time nap time finally comes every day, it’s all I can do not to dump the kids into their cribs and race for the couch with a good book and a tall glass of ice water (it’s been so hot here and we don’t have A/C). My soul craves that time alone without little voices, little messes, little tummies, little needs.

But I’ve felt extra strength and peace in the morning thanks to waking up an hour or so (or less…) before them. I make a pot of coffee and sit at the table and take a tentative sip. I’m sure many of you know how spectacularly delicious that predawn, freshly-brewed cup of coffee tastes. It’s indescribably fortifying.

And then I’ve been turning to the Bible, reading a few chapters according to the plan that Elliott and I do together. A great sense of peace comes not only from God’s Word itself but also from knowing that I have “tithed” this time, that I have set my priorities in order, that I have responded in gratefulness to the Father for all the good gifts He’s given me.

And then I pray, set the Bible aside, and dive for a few minutes into my latest library book, gathering my last pieces of reserve around me like a blanket to help me stay warm, stay strong, stay gracious for whatever the day might hold.

And then…


And so it begins again.

What about you? Do you wake up before you absolutely have to? Generally Elliott and I stay up too late (eleven-thirty, twelve…) to make it feasible to get up early. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Or maybe I should be asking, “What gets to you to bed early enough at night?” Because I’ve got to do something about that next!

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22 Responses to On Waking Up Before My Children

  1. Rachel September 10, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    Yes, this sounds so familiar! And I’ve been desperate to do something about getting to bed earlier in order to rise early before the kids. Thus far, I’ve had a few mornings to myself with just my Bible, but I haven’t been successful at making this a habit. When you’ve learned the secret, let me know. I’m rooting for you!!

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      I’m wondering how it will go for me when Elliott’s back, because with him gone I’ve been sleeping much more lightly. I sleep like a rock when I know he’ll help me out with the kids or any noises in the night!

  2. Alica September 10, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    I’ve always been up before the kids…not because I’m in any way a morning person,but because of the cows! I wish that there would be an easy way to get up slowly though, and enjoy a cup of cappuccino before the day begins. I’m usually dragging myself out to the barn with my eyes half open.

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      I thought of you as I wrote this, Alica, knowing that YOU of all people know what it’s like to be up early!

  3. Laura September 10, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    I’m a college student and until this year (my senior year), I stayed up like most college kids do. But this year I have class every day at 8:00 a.m. and it’s been very rewarding to go to bed early and wake up early. It’s helped me see that I’m a morning person at heart. My school is in Southern California so I’m also dealing with the intense heat… and it’s so much nicer to wake up before the heat really kicks in!

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      It is HOT right now, isn’t it?! Can’t wait for it to break! And yes, I remember those 8am classes that suddenly made me a much better student than the 11am ones…

  4. Rachel September 10, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    Oh, I hear you!! It’s absolutely mission-critical that I get up and have coffee and quiet before my kids are awake! It helps that they’re a bit older now and sleep in just a little later (at least to 6:30 or 7:00). If someone tries to talk to me before then, it’s on their own head. My response is usually, “Mmphgmmahgh…. shhhhhhhh!!! Juss lemme drink mah COFFEE.”

    Praying for a smooth week for you while Elliot is gone!

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

      Haha, I know you love that first cuppa too! I haven’t tried setting the timer on our new machine yet… maybe that would help me get up if I could SMELL the deliciousness luring me downstairs!

  5. Courtney Harris September 10, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Love this, Becca! I recently made the same hard, but rewarding, decision to get up early before Audrey wakes. But, like you, the naptime routine is one of the low points of my day…. I’m soooo ready to rest by then! (What am I going to do when Audrey stops napping??) I need a lot of zzz’s so I’ve been going to bed between 9-10pm and I think that helps. But I can miss some of the relaxing time in the evening!

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

      I wish I could fall asleep between 9-10pm! This week it’s been hard to fall asleep without Elliott there, but then it’s hard when he’s back because I always want to spend time with him.

      I think we’re both in a great stage now when our kids have pretty good sleeping routines, and that’s part of the reason I’m taking advantage while I can. If either of us has a baby in the next year or so, it’ll be out the window!

  6. Tiffany September 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    Getting up earliest in the house is a must for me–the day goes unbelievably better if that happens. To go to bed early enough, I’ve started setting an alarm at night. It’s still a struggle, but it’s been a helpful reminder that I feel so much better if I get enough (well, almost enough) sleep! It wakes me up if I fall asleep watching television, too. ;)

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

      I love this idea! I’m going to set a 10pm alarm on my phone right now and see if it helps!

  7. Liz Mays September 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    I am there with you. Waking up can seem so unpleasant when it is with a toddler’s wonderful call for help. My 3.5 year old doesn’t nap (at all, ever) and my almost 2 year old SOMETIMES will give me an hour or two so my days seem soo long. I may have to try waking up before them to get a jump start on my attitude and plans for the day. :)

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

      Ugh, wow, that does sound long. It’s hard to drag yourself out of bed when you never get a break, though!

  8. Esther September 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Uncanny! Just last week my naturopath told me if I ever want to be healthy and have energy again, that I need to help my adrenals and hormone production out by getting up early, taking a hot shower, putting on clean clothes and eating a real breakfast complete with healthy fats and proteins.

    I do not like the morning. I have always been a night owl.

    I started the practice of getting up with Case this week. He’s usually up by 6 so once he’s out of the shower I’m up and slogging my way through accomplishing these restorative practices. I have been permission to go back to bed if needed – in clean clothes! – (and am thankful I have the freedom to do so) and have been having to do that because we don’t have the going to bed early routine down.

    I’m excited to see what life looks like several weeks in to doing this. Glad to see I have a partner in crime!

    • Becca September 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm #

      Wow, doing all those things each morning would be a TALL order for me. Daytime clothes sometimes happen around 9am, and breakfast often doesn’t include any protein besides milk (although I’m working on this by soft-boiling eggs lately!). I’m inspired by you! I hope your new routine continues as it started. :)

  9. Stephanie September 11, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

    DEFINITELY setting the coffee pot on a timer! The occasional times I neglect to do that (or do something silly like pour the water in but forget the grinds so I wake up to a nice hot pot of filtered water, true story, ugh) I’m so sad when I stumble out of bed & realize. Another trick I’ve used is typing a little message to myself as the “name” of the alarm when setting the alarm on my phone so that when it goes off in the morning I’m reminded why I set it for that time. I have to change those messages pretty often to keep them freshly inspiring though, haha.

    • Becca September 14, 2014 at 4:41 am #

      Stephanie, I tried both of these this week! The 10pm alarm definitely helped, and I’m going to keep that one for sure. The coffee timer isn’t working yet. We have a new coffee pot and I’m not sure if it’s not working or I set it wrong (and it’s a nice one from a yard sale so I don’t have the manual). Trial and error here, trial and error. Thanks for the tips… they were the best so far!

  10. Alise G September 13, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    Ohhhhhhhh man. I just… I just… Oh man. I so WANT to wake up before my kids. I constantly have to remind myself that my youngest is not yet a year old, and stillllll not sleeping all the way through the night, and that goodness sakes alive I need to dole out a little grace to myself. But I feel convicted all the time of this right here: that if I spent a little time in the morning allowing God to prepare me for the craziness to come I would be a much more patient, tender and caring mama.

    Someday!! For now I have to settle with stolen minutes of peace while nursing….and for the days when my daughters aren’t staggering their naps. One is asleep, then awake, then the next one is asleep, then she wakes up and the first one goes back to sleep again. I can’t wait for simultaneous naps. Sometimes I just go bonkers. I end up calling my husband at 3 or 4 every day asking “Ummmm…when are you coming home again? I’m losing my mind!” Haha!

    Your picture looks so peaceful. I’d love for that to be a reality in my life. :)

    • Becca September 14, 2014 at 4:44 am #

      OMG, Alise, I would definitely NOT be waking up before my kids if I were you! I’ve been where you are and there is no way I could have gotten up earlier. I realize right now I’m in a phase where neither of my kids need me in the night (usually…) and will keep sleeping if I get up early.

      Well, at least that last one is “in theory,” because they have started waking up an hour earlier now that I’m waking up an hour earlier. :( My father-in-law calls it being “umbilically connected.” They just know I’m up! So we’ll see who gives up first…

  11. Joy September 14, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    Funny! I’ve been doing this too!! I try to work out because homeschool starts pretty quickly after the kids wake up, and if I haven’t done it already, I end up in my work-out clothes, begging my kids to take a break so I can exercise at 10:30 or 11! Which makes me cranky. The problem is — well, two problems actually — I work out much better after eating (I know, that sounds backwards but I need that energy boost), and Wyatt has been waking up REALLY early this week!! I’m talking 5 or so!! OUCH!!

    But there is so much to love about the mornings. I sat with my husband for a few minutes just as the sun started to come up out on our front porch this past week, and it was stunning and so peaceful. Till… “MOOOOM!!!!” ;-)

    • Becca September 14, 2014 at 4:45 am #

      You have me so inspired with your dedication to work out! This week I wasn’t running at all because Elliott was out of town, but this coming week I’m hoping to go back and forth between early mornings for quiet time and early mornings for running. We’ll see how it works out. “Works out”… hardy har…

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