I love sleep. I could easily sleep for ten or more hours a night if I had no other obligations. When I do wake up, I like to wake up slowly. From the time I was a little girl I have never been one of those up-and-at'em people. My brain just takes longer to wake up than the rest of me. I am groggy for at least the first 5 minutes of being awake. Motherhood, of course, challenged this part of me. My son didn’t sleep through the night until right around his first birthday. During that first year, I was getting up every three hours and still making it to work on time in the morning. Here’s how I did it:
- Work backwards when establishing the timing of your morning routine. Know by what time you need to leave the house and make that your starting point. If I need to leave the house at 7:00, how much time do you need for everything else? Then, you have your wake-up time.
- Pack lunches the night before. My son goes to daycare and his lunches usually consist of some dinner leftovers, so it’s easy to do the night before. As we are cleaning the kitchen, I just pack his lunch as I am cleaning up everything else.
- Wake up at the same time every day. As tempting as a few minutes of extra sleep can be, it’s better for you AND your baby to have a routine down. My son is so much happier when the routine is normal. If his sleep pattern changes because of travel or something else, he is far less cheerful than normal. Also, waking up at the same time every day will help you get your morning routine down to a science and (most) mornings will run like clockwork.
- Wake up before your baby. This might not work for everyone, but when we were sleep-training our son, we knew we didn’t want him waking up at the crack of dawn every single day. We scheduled his bedtime so that he would wake up in the mornings with just enough time for a diaper change, getting dressed, breakfast, and maybe a few minutes of play before heading out the door. For other people, they might be naturally early risers and enjoy lots of activity and play before leaving the house. Either way, I have enjoyed some peaceful morning time to drink some hot tea before I have my son up and wanting attention.
- Give your child some responsibility for part of the routine. We take our trash out a few times a week, and even though he is just a year old, our son has a “job” to do. He knows that he carries the bag of bathroom trash (very small and lightweight for him) outside on the way to the car. He loves having a job to do and it makes him more likely to get his socks, shoes, and coat on without fussing! If he doesn’t have his shoes on, he can’t take the trash out, so he is usually very cooperative.
I must admit, I haven’t followed my own advice perfectly all the time, but the few times when I choose to sleep in a few extra minutes, or leave lunch-packing for the morning, I am rushed and tend to forget things. When I stick to these goals, our mornings are much easier!