I’m a group fitness instructor, and before having a baby, teaching early morning classes was my jam. There was nothing better than a 6am HIIT class before heading to the office, and I let everyone know about it. I’d share all of my tips for becoming a morning person, because that morning workout feeling was too good to pass up. I felt like the most accomplished person in the world.
Now, I’m a mom to an 8-month old. And not only did I give up teaching (and taking) early morning classes, I also wonder how and why I woke up so early when I didn’t actually have to. Why didn’t I sleep in during all those years when I had the chance?
Because now I’m a mom and I’m a morning person, not by choice, but because that is reality with a kid. If you’re not a morning person and you’re a parent or a soon-to-be parent, guess what? Now you’re a morning person too! Whether you like it or not.
And if you don’t like it, there are a few things you can do to make it just a little bit more bearable. Here are seven tips to become a morning person.
1. Go to sleep at the same (reasonable) time every night
This includes weekends. As a new-ish mom, I still have the thought, “Great, it’s Saturday night! I can stay up extra late watching TV.” Um, false. Unlike the normal office jobs of my past, being a parent is 24/7.
While we’d love for our little ones to understand the concept of sleeping in on the weekends, they aren’t going to get it for a while. To keep yourself in a good routine, aim for the same bedtime and wake up time every day, including weekends.
2. Know your needed amount of sleep and adjust your bedtime accordingly
This one is a bit challenging as a parent, but stick with me here. The optimal number of hours of sleep for adults is 7-9 hours. That’s a fairly large range, and it’s hard to know where you land on it.
Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist Thanuja Hamilton, MD shares a way to find out your sweet spot of sleep hours. For three nights in a row, go to sleep at the same time, do not set any alarms, and see what time you wake up on day three (the first two nights may include catching up on sleep). This can give you an idea of your ideal amount of sleep. This probably sounds impossible to do if you have kids, and you’re right, it kind of is. If you’re reading this before you have a baby, do it now. And if you already have kids, ask your partner to take the morning shift for three days in a row and give it a try.
Once you know your needed hours of sleep, adjust your bedtime. If your kid always wakes up at 6am, use that as your wake-up time and work backward.
3. Address morning annoyances at night
The way you spend your evening plays a huge role in how your morning will turn out. At night, think about what will make your morning more pleasant. If you hate waking up to a messy kitchen, do a little tidying before bed. If having a to-do list gets your day on track, write it out at night.
There are only so many hours of free time at night (especially since you’re sticking to a reasonable bedtime, right?). We aren’t telling you to spend all of those precious adult hours scrubbing the counters, but if putting a few dishes in the dishwasher makes for a smoother morning, consider adding that chore to your evening routine.
4. Wake up to natural light
Light signals to the brain that the day has begun. Once out of bed, make your first move opening the curtains and letting the natural light in. But of course, sometimes your day is beginning when it’s still pitch-black outside. If that’s the case, turn on the lights in your room, or invest in a light alarm clock that eases you out of your sleep.
As moms, we know that your “alarm clock” is probably your child. If they have a regular routine, set your own alarm for a few minutes before they wake up so you aren’t jolted awake by screaming (or whatever lovely noise your child wakes up with).
5. Give yourself something to look forward to
The thought of waking up to a crying baby is not positive reinforcement to get yourself out of bed. Instead, think of something that you’re excited to wake up to. It can be as small as a delicious cup of coffee or as relaxing as a quick meditation to clear your mind before the craziness of the day begins.
6. Fake it till you make it
Love it or hate it, sometimes you need to wake up early. Maybe it’s because your child is an early riser or because you want to get a few things accomplished before you go into mom-mode. If you aren’t a natural early riser, you can change. The more you do it, the easier it may become. Tell yourself that you’re happy to get your day started, after all, our thoughts are powerful in impacting our mood. Over time, it will likely become less of a struggle and more of your natural routine.
7. Accept that this is your life
Sorry, but you’re a morning person now, and there’s not much you can do to change that. So, embrace those early morning hours and remember that one day your child will be a teenager, and you’ll be dragging them out of bed at noon.