How I Finally Learned To Make My Mornings Run Smoothly

I have never been a morning person. I am a night owl by nature. I remember being seven years old and sneaking out of bed to watch TV from the shadows when my parents thought I was sleeping. Even today, I’ll find myself organizing the house in the middle of the night because those are the hours I come alive. Night time is my time.

The thing is, I’m not in love with being a night person anymore. While it worked well for jamming out late night term papers in college and even during those early infant months of late night feedings – as my life changed so did the hours I wanted to be awake.

Nowadays I would love to enjoy a cup of tea in sweet morning silence while the rest of my family sleeps, get to work early, and feel accomplished before we leave for school. I wish I was bright eyed and bushy tailed in the early AM but even when I try to fight back by hitting the hay early, I still struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

Because waking early has always been such a struggle for me, mornings tend to be a time of day where I don’t shine my brightest. It was no big deal when I first had a baby and was able to lounge around enjoying snuggles all morning (wearing pants basically never). Heck, it even worked well into the toddler years. Leisurely breakfasts, no set schedule, pajamas most of (if not all of) the day. Life was good.

All of this changed, however, as soon as preschool started. Suddenly I had to get my two (then in time three) children up and dressed and fed before it was time to load up in the car. I had to manage to find shoes and pack lunches and make breakfast in my sleepy haze – and let me tell you, it did not go well.

In fact, it did not go well for years. I would constantly forget something essential – like my coat when it was snowing outside or a lunchbox that I would have to drive all the way home to retrieve. I was constantly yelling as we got down to the wire when it was time to leave every morning, still managing a late departure each day. I felt frazzled when I arrived home, and it seemed like I wasn’t able to settle into my day until the afternoon – and by that time I had to shuttle back for preschool pickup.

Having hectic mornings wasn’t just ruining my early hours, it was throwing off my whole day.

So I tried setting an early morning alarm, determined to get up before everyone else. However, this method didn’t work well for me as all three children sensed the moment I rose from bed, determined to beat me out to the living room so they could demand 6:00 a.m. snacks and Netflix. I was exhausted by the time lunch rolled around, and then useless when I had to get work done in the evening hours after bedtime.

I would oscillate between my early morning attempts and my always-running-late mornings, never finding my groove. Until one day I decided something had to change. I sat down and thought about what I needed to do each morning, what I wanted to do each morning, and more importantly, how I could get it all done without waking before 7:00 a.m.

I found by tracking my time in 15 minute intervals I was able to break down all the tasks that needed to be done – making lunches and breakfast, dressing everyone, making beds, doing dishes, feeding pets, loading the car – and fit them into neat little time blocks. I posted the schedule in my phone, so reminders would go off every fifteen minutes, telling my sleepy brain exactly what needed to be done.

It was a hard adjustment to keep my feet moving all morning instead of watching cartoons on the couch with my kids, still trying to find my motivation to fully wake up. However, as the days went on, running on autopilot with my phone started to turn around my bad feelings toward mornings. I felt productive, I wasn’t forgetting things, and we were getting out the door on time every single day with minimal stress. Now that I don’t have to rely on my own groggy self to remember my morning to-do list, I finally feel a little more like a morning person.