The 5 AM Alarm

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I’m trying to build back my habit of morning workouts. I was on a role with getting things done first thing while I was pregnant and then that stopped when my sweet boy arrived. New moms, don’t hate me please – my baby is an amazing sleeper! After two horrible sleepers I finally hit the jackpot with baby number four! I’m terrified of it ever changing because mama loves her sleep! It’s his excellent sleeping habits (10+ hours at 3 months old!) that allow me to get up early each morning without feeling like a zombie. So why can’t I get back in the habit?

After much self reflection, I’ve determined the reason I abandoned my early wake up is because I wasn’t giving myself down time. Yes I was getting great chunks of sleep but then I hit the ground running and left no time for recharging my batteries. It takes more than just sleep to fill up your tank. You need to pour into yourself so that you have something to pour into others. When I was working out in the morning I was leaving just enough time to finish the workout, feed the baby, get everyone up, eating and off to school. Then home life was a mixture of cleaning (a never ending task), taking care of the wee ones, and working remotely for my paying job. By the time I was in a groove it was time to pick up from school, make dinner, and get everything ready for bed. Lather, rinse, repeat. Throw in there feeding a baby on demand and diapers round the clock and it was no wonder that sleep was not enough to recharge me. I was running on E. Cue the village.

If you recall, or if you know me in real life, you know that I live 1,700 miles from home. My village is mostly virtual. I don’t have a long list of babysitters, I don’t get weekly date nights, I don’t even get daily showers. But I get support. I get heard. I get advice that literally saves my sanity. A phone call with my sister where I can just word vomit all the thoughts running through my head is healing. An all day text chain with a group of moms that are all in the thick of it with their own babies is a great escape. A group of moms that have been there and done that provides simple advice that is a big DUH when I give myself time to breathe. And something a simple as a suggestion to make tiny to do lists can bring back enough peace for me to keep pushing through.

So where do I find my time? With the 5 AM alarm. I’d like to tell you I jump out of bed at 5 and I’m ready but sometimes it’s 5:30 and sometimes it’s 6 – but the time isn’t key, it’s what it means for me (or you!). That alarm is a reminder to fill up my cup (literally and figuratively) to get ready for the day. That time is mine. My children (thank goodness) are not up at 5 AM demanding my attention. They aren’t asking for breakfast, tablets, or fighting. They are sleeping peacefully and I am able to just be me. I get to pause from my roles as mom, wife, employee, etc. I get to be Elizabeth. I get to drink coffee (hot!), pray, write, read, or even do nothing. I didn’t know how much my soul needed 5 AM.

I started this post on Thursday and as I’m finishing up breakfast Saturday morning I’m finally getting to finish it. This morning I woke up at 5:30, fed the baby and spent 1.5 hours alone with a cup of coffee, a slice of applesauce bread (yum!), and my phone. Could I have done something more “productive” with that kid free time? Sure. But in a way wasn’t I being productive by recharging my own batteries? Absolutely!!

Next week I plan to use that time to strengthen my relationship with God. I plan to dive deeper into my Bible and start one of my Bible studies. My heart has been heavy with the stress of life, and in times of stress I know where I need to be.

Make time for you. Make yourself a priority. Schedule this time. Protect this time. It’s as important as that 11:00 work meeting, getting the kids to school on time, and making a homecooked meal. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill it up. Every. Single. Day!

— EM

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