“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily”
When I first became a dad, well…everything changed. The first thing that changed was I had to take care of another tiny human better than I have ever cared for myself! Ok, so my wife and I got this! (Yeah, totally needed her because watching me hold a crying baby looks about the same as a caveman holding a log that is on fire…This doesn’t seem right…what do I do, what do I do???? HHAAAAAA!!!)
The second thing that changed is my sleep schedule. It wasn’t in their owner’s manual, but kids don’t care how late you stay up or how much you had to drink the night before. When kids wake up…THEY WAKE UP so full of life and ready to go! They don’t “get” that dad made some poor decisions the night before. So I would have to drag my sorry butt out of bed.
So with that being said, here are three things that completely changed my morning dynamic and saved my sanity. The following will transform your mornings from playing catch-up and resenting their energy to being functional, loving, and in control.
#1 and #2 are about habits. #3 is about forging a relationship.
“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether or not you’re inspired”.- Octavia Butler
1. Wake up every day before for the kids. I try to wake up at least a full hour before they wake. This grants me some quiet time where I am not distracted (aka ME time). Since my quiet time happens in the morning, I have plenty of energy to enjoy it and get all of my ducks in a row for the day. Try this out! You will see that it is so much better than trying to find quiet time after the kids have gone to bed for the night (I mean, why have quiet time when you are already burned out?!)
2. Wake up at the same time every morning. It does not matter when you go to bed; build the habit of waking up simultaneously. It does wonders for your body, even on the days you may lack sleep (science has my back on this). Your body has its own natural rhythm, and waking up at the same time allows a good routine to form. Current day, I wake up without an alarm between 4:30 and 5. If I can do this, you can too! I used to be a natural night person. I made the shift originally because I wanted to read a book but would fall asleep shortly after I started reading at night. Now I have a beautiful, peaceful habit.
3. When your kids wake immediately, spend five to ten minutes giving them your full attention (no phone or fractured attention here). This is what is referred to by L. Tobin* and Jeanine Fitzgerald* as first hour needs. If you can fill your kids up right off the bat with touch (hug), acknowledgment, humor, conversation, nutrition, love, etc.- they will be so much more well behaved in the day and compliant to your voice. Really, this one is a miracle at work. Just fill them up with as much love as possible and watch them go…in a content state. I also use this tactic as soon as I get home from work. The key here is to create an environment where they feel and know that they are valued. (Bonus fact: did you know that 80% of what you communicate with another is purely non-verbal….yeah, words don’t tell the story)
In conclusion, I work these three things every single day. I love my kids, but hey…I also love me. Maximize your downtime when you have the most energy for it (you deserve it)…and while you are at it, fill your kids up with love and acknowledgment (they will return the favor).
*L. Tobin What do you do with a child like this?
*Jeanine Fitzgerald- The Dance of Interaction
Photo by Japheth Mast via Unsplash