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Becoming a Morning Person. For Real.

Gosh. Thank you all for the warm welcome back. I worried for a time that my intentional absence would leave me with no one left when I finally returned–but here you are! & you have been so kind & understanding of the choice to walk away for awhile. & I can tell you–I am truly so so excited to be back here. Like, my mind is racing with ideas. & I cannot wait to write!

Before I dive too far into any one thing, I think it’s important to address what has brought me to this place of peace. I have overhauled our life in some really drastic ways in the last two years, but shutting out the internet and welcoming books (real books! like, with pages!!) has probably been the biggest positive shift I chose to make.

It all started in the dead of winter. The holidays had come & gone. I was constantly exhausted. I desperately sought time alone and the only place I ever found it was at the gym. The problem with: I was working really, really hard when I was alone at the gym. So that time to be creative or sit with a book or catch up with a friend was still missing. There was still no downtime. Add my early bird (as in, 5:30/6am riser, neeeedy son) and my night owl (9pm to bed, one more snuggle daughter) and life was just not working. I was spending several hours after the last one finally went to sleep piddling around the house, mentally making a tally of all that I wanted to do and all that I was too spent to actually do. It was defeating and destructive to my sense of accomplishment. I mean…my house is my job and it’s a disaster…and I have nothing else…and…WTF did I DO today…and…I am getting dumber by the day because I am not learning ANYTHING! (running on repeat through my head) That’s not good self talk. So after I checked the internet for the bazillionth time, seeking escape from my messy living room, I went to bed about midnight and was then awakened, while it was still dark outside, by a child who just wouldn’t sleep another second. (As if that was anything new.) What could I do? How could I make this better?

& so I brainstormed. I remember a part of one of my favorite books that I read years and years ago (remember, my first one is my sleeper–so back then when I read books) and knew that was part of my answer. There is a particular section in Steady Days where the topic of being rushed comes up. Nothing good ever happens when mama is rushed. & my mornings were so rushed. I was too tired to give my son what he needed at the early hour when he first woke up. I was hitting the snooze on him, which made me more and more agitated with each thing he did to try to rouse me before my preferred 7am wake up time. & mornings suuuucked. I got up at the last possible second, tried to get the kids ready while I got ready, so we could get to school on time and it just sucked. I felt like a bad mom. I was not nice. They were struggling to make sense of my inability to manage the morning. & I knew I wanted to be better. So I did something crazy.

I decided to become a morning person.

[Find a Sunnier Place, the gorgeous art that hangs in my office, by the talented Emily Jeffords]

Now, those of you who already are morning people are probably snickering…it took you this long to discover the beauty of a silent morning?! But for those of us night owls–we just cannot even fathom lights out at 9:30 pm. FORGET an alarm that goes off before six. You craaaazy. No. Thank. You.

But I did it.

It started as an experiment. I set my alarm for 5:45am. I was in bed by 9/930 (painful!! So much time left in the day to do stuff!!) & then I made myself get up early. Then the second week, I set it for 5:30. By the third week, I was up at 5:15, going to bed sometime before ten, and often getting a whole 45 minutes to sit on the couch in silence and read before my kids got up. Or shovel the driveway, getting a bit of exercise in the silent darkness. There is really something beautiful about a quiet house in the morning. & it feels very different than a quiet house at night. The transformation that happened when I got to take care of me (or my home) for just a little bit, before I had to take care of someone else, was life changing.

It turns out that my early bird boy is perfectly happy co-existing with me in the morning. He just wants someone up with him while he plays with his trains. & so that’s what we do. I get up, get dressed, take a little me time to read & then when he gets up, I start chores. Often, I have breakfast made before we have to go up & start the [highly unpleasant] task of waking the night owl. That’s never fun. But it’s a whole lot easier when I am already awake & have plenty of time to let her hit snooze within my easy morning.

styleberry copyright_12

[image by Kate L Photography]

Back when I first started this, I definitely relied on my hot cup of coffee to start my day. & often, the thought of my favorite mug warming my hands and the smell of it was enough to get me going. Since, (& I will elaborate separately) I have cut out most of my caffeine intake and no longer drink coffee first thing in the morning. Outrageous, I know. WHO am I? I tell you…it’s been a very, very transformative couple of years. :) & it feels great.

& beyond the morning routine change, the ability to keep up with the news and politics (which I really enjoy!) and the reintroduction of real books has nourished me in a way that was lacking. I always have something to talk about, beyond my kids, because I am always learning something. That’s part of my puzzle that can’t be forgotten–my own personal growth. I found that reading on the iPad just didn’t do it for me (no screen, please!), but I also didn’t want to buy books, because I’d always feel bad, & like I was wasting money, if I ended up not liking a book and abandoning it. Again, making myself feel like a failure, and not allowing myself to move on to something I may really enjoy, before finishing the last. Thus, leaving me stuck with a shitty book that I would never finish and nothing on the horizon in nourishing reading-land. Deciding what is and isn’t worth your time to read is just another one of those empowering moments. Not finishing everything you start, because you decide it’s not worth your time, is powerful. It’s owning your precious time & filling it with value–NOT you being a failure for giving up something that is not worth your time. Important lesson I learned, right there.

So I put together a list of what I wanted to learn about & read, and requested books at the library. (the LIBRARY!!) Why I had not thought to get books for ME at the library, when it was a weekly part of our routine for the last five years ANYWAY, is beyond me. But it gave me the freedom to get what I wanted and make the conscious choice to let it go if it was just not working for me. Recently, I have started checking out audiobooks using the app Overdrive (where you can access the library’s selection of books, then download them on to your iPhone for a while & listen while driving without an internet connection, or while doing chores, exercising at the gym, etc.) It’s been really great & I highly recommend it. Some of my favorites: Rising Strong, The Magic of Tidying Up, The Nesting Place, Wheat Belly, It Starts with Food, The Plantpower Way, All Joy & No Fun, The Creative Family…and each deserves its own discussion. But for now–if you need some recommendations, there you go! :)

Oh, and no Facebook on my iPhone. Ever. IG? Sure, but that’s because I keep it private and use it to really interact with those I care about & am inspired by. It’s a very controlled feed. But Facebook? Maybe a few minutes a day, on my desktop only. & hide, hide, hide those on the feed that are time-suckers, anger inducers. I limit Facebook, too, to really the only people I care about and am inspired by. & a small number of groups that I participate in & seek encouragement from.

Finding time to read and find quiet and start the day on my terms has been a huge part of my sanity. & Mornings are so much happier this way! Every morning? No. But there sure are a whole lot more pleasant ones than there used to be! styleberry copyright_13

[image by Kate L Photography]

As a side note, you are going to start seeing some general housekeeping around here. Some editing & restructuring to make things flow a bit better, so my site is easier to navigate. One exciting thing I am working on is an Amazon Shop that will be my own personal curation of all of my favorite things. Hopefully I can, once & for all, rid us of the broken links that are sitting in My Baby List post! I am so excited to have everything I love in one easy-to-find place! I don’t have time to blog everything that I love & use, but you will soon find my favorites (books, cook books, kids literature, toys, games, kids gear, kitchen gadgets etc.) all in one place. It will also serve as an affiliate program to keep my site financially viable, but free of sponsorships and ads, which is just the way I like it. Look for the Amazon Shop link in the sidebar, for my ongoing collection of stuff I love, and that makes my life easier! Happy Shopping!

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  • Cilla - Yay! So happy to have you back. Everything you’ve done sounds like what I’ve been trying so hard to get to. Waking early…rest…food/health (whole30?)…and books! Rising strong is amazing! I love anything brene brown! Anywho, but you are actually accomplishing these things and kicking butt! Yay! So proud of you! I have been struggling and am sure that, as always, I will be be inspired by you :)ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I smiled when I saw your post show up on my blog feed today. I’m looking forward to reading more about your life changes!ReplyCancel

  • Denise - So glad you are back, and just when I needed this bit of inspiration! I have been struggling lately. Finding time for me, time to keep my home on track, for work, and somehow cramming all of that time into the night while my babies sleep and barely getting the sleep I so desperately need. I am ripped from sleep every morning and not happy about it at all. Every day I say tomorrow will be better, but it rarely ever is. I’ve been a night owl all my life, even as a child. I’m completely intrigued that you made the switch to mornings and hope to try this myself. I know the few times I’ve been able to rise before my kids that time has been precious. I even feel like I am able to concentrate better and feel more accomplished those days. Thank you for taking the time to post about this, it has made me reconsider the way I do things and want to push for something better.ReplyCancel

  • Kimber C. - YAYYYYYYY!!!!! It makes me oh so happy you are back! I so thoroughly enjoy your blog and still refer friends and myself to it on occasion or look back through old posts I remember you put up about questions I had. Seriously I love you and your blog and I loved this post too! I absolutely am going to start trying to do this!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - So excited to have you back in Blogland!! You have no idea how much I needed to read this post today. As I sit here reading…late…like midnight late, I think of all the changes that need to happen to make our house a HAPPY home. And they all start with me and my reactions to the stresses of motherhood and life in general. So, tomorrow I too will try to become a morning person…and read more…and smile more. Thank you for all of your inspiration and opening yourself and your family up to the rest of us mamas in the trenches.ReplyCancel

  • Kate - So glad you’re back! Completely understand the hiatus. They are much needed sometimes. Can’t wait to see what you cook up.
    And thanks for the book recs, you always have great ones!ReplyCancel

  • donya - Reading this at 6am, I can SO relate. I use my mornings a little different, catching up on the internet, doing some photography work, so I can put it to the side the moment my kids wake up. But I’ve also noticed that I’m much more adept at handling the morning chaos if I’ve woken myself up first, which is why I continually choose to do this stuff in the early morning rather than the late evening. And I love that cup of coffee. Though I’m interested to hear about you removal of caffeine!ReplyCancel

  • Rachael - So glad to see you blogging again! But completely understand the hiatus. You have been missed!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - I was so excited to see your blog post pop up in my feed. I love reading and I am happy you are back. I am still struggling with the adjustment of 2 kids and finding my own time. My youngest is 1 year old and I just can’t make it all work. We live in a small rental and I find myself constantly last on the list. I am so encouraged by your post and ready to take back my mornings! Thank you so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Brooke - I so appreciate your thoughtful and deliberate approach to life and the joy that comes with it! While our lives are different, I love to learn from you and your perspective. Thanks for the inspiration and welcome back!!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I found your blog while you were taking your break and I couldn’t stop reading it. I found it as I was looking for any information I could find on photography, and then I loved your style of writing and approach to life and openness about motherhood, etc. Anyways, I kept your site in my RSS feed so I could someday go back and read more of your blog and now you’re writing again! I’m so happy to have such an inspiring person in my feed. Thank you and I look forward to following your journey.ReplyCancel

  • Aarti - Welcome back! Thank you for sharing! Because no matter what your posts say, I always think of you as so put together in home, parenting, personal life….even as I know being put together perfectly is a myth. So in your sharing you give me inspiration that I, too, can make changes and can try again to become a morning person!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - I am so glad to see that you are back and blogging! I discovered your blog through your fertility struggle stories when I was researching my own arcuate uterus and fertility challenges. I loved your stories, your writing and your inspiration. I couldn’t get enough of it. Despite your not blogging at the time, I subscribed, hoping some day you would.

    Your blog is such a valuable resource and I’m excited to see what you have been up to. :-)ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I have read your posts for years and used your site as a resource for cloth diapering & baby things when we welcomed our first. So, happy to see posts again that I can relate to once again, now on the toddler side and stay at home mama side of things. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • carrie - And another post?! I can’t believe my eyes! This is great – lots of great tips and the gentle reminders that changes takes TIME and intention. Sounds like things are going so well :)ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - I just found your blog and am so happy that I did. I loved reading this article and the changes you’ve made in your routine. Very inspiring. I feel like I had to go “dark” for a little while too. Cut out my internet use and phone use etc. I ran a successful Etsy shop for two years and it exhausted me. I took some time out to restructure how I spend my time so that I’m a better mom (i hope I’m a better one anyway!:) I feel happier and as though I enjoy my kids and my days more. Just started a blog and am loving it!
    Thanks again!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle R - Like so many others, I was excited to see two posts pop up in such short order! You’re back, yay! I found you when I was pregnant with my first and I learned so much from your blog (my first was a Fuzzibunz baby thanks to you!) cloth diapering, homemade baby food, etc. Now, number two is on the way and I can’t wait to dive back into your blog with you and see where it takes us both! I understand well the struggle for “what else.” Baby #2 has taken it’s sweet time joining us, derailing my plans to get back in to the workforce. I’d love to hear where your journey takes you and share my experiences as well. Welcome back!ReplyCancel

  • Lea - Thank you for this post, you have encouraged me to wake earlier too. I did it like you mentioned….5:45, then 5:30, then 5:15…after 2 weeks, I’m beginning to get a hang of it.

    Very glad you are back, you and your post are so inspiring to this mama from SoCal.ReplyCancel

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