If you’ve been following along in my IG stories for a while or watched my latest YouTube Video (link), you probably know I wake up at the butt crack of dawn most days. Actually, well before dawn. Monday to Friday and sometimes even on the weekends, I wake up around 4:15-4:30am. Why, you ask? Or perhaps what you’re thinking is more like “why the hell would anyone do that?!”
My answer is simple. Starting my mornings that early make the rest of my days exponentially better. Every time. Without fail.
I am a work-from-home parent to a very energetic toddler, so I will preface, that has a lot to do with why I initially made this shift. I found myself feeling bombarded by the responsibilities of parenthood the second I opened my eyes, if I waited for my daughter to wake me up at her usual rising time of around 6-7am. I’d spend my entire day always two steps behind, because when Bowie is awake, she comes first.
I will also say that I am 100% guilt-freely “guilty” of sticking her in front of the TV for half an hour here and there to get some semblance of work done throughout the day. My husband also has a relatively flexible work schedule that allows us to juggle throughout the week as needed, BUT with no childcare or family around to help out, when that baby girl calls, we have to drop everything and come running.
Amidst the work/mom juggle day in day out, I’m sure you can imagine, my schedule doesn’t allow much me-time for mama… until I made it happen! By — you guessed it — waking my ass up long before the sun or my daughter are awake.
I’ve been doing this since the pandemic hit, so it’s been nearly a year now and I can honestly say, kids or no kids, I wouldn’t have it any other way. When you’re awake and alert taking care of yourself at a time of day that it feels like the whole world is still asleep, it’s incredible how much you can accomplish.
By the time most people are first opening their eyes, I’ve already had half of my suggested day’s hydration, meditated, read something healing or educational, had my coffee, worked out, showered and begun getting ready.
So, now that I’ve justified my why and hopefully inspired you to possibly be slightly intrigued to try waking up earlier yourself, the next question you may be asking is “how the hell do I do it?!”
My Tips for Waking Up Earlier
Think of your what.
What do you want to do before the world wakes up? What kind of activities or practices make you feel good? What can you do to set yourself up to feel your best as you take on the day? Think mind, body, soul. From there, you can figure out how long it takes you to do each activity you’d like to get done and can determine your goal wake up time from there!
For me, I take care of my mind my reading 10 pages of a book that teaches me something or inspires me. I also erase my previous day’s to-do list from my whiteboard and write out my tasks for the day ahead. I take care of my body by hydrating, working out and taking a not-rushed-by-a-bellowing-toddler shower. I take care of my soul by praying, writing a gratitude list and meditating. All of this takes me about two hours and my daughter typically wakes up around 6:15am, hence the 4:15am alarm clock.
You don’t need to wake up 2 hours earlier than you normally would right away. Just try bumping up your wakeup time by 15-30 minute increments as you get your body clock adjusted. You’ll know when you’ve hit your sweet spot. The goal is to thrive throughout the rest of your day not get a ton of shit done while it’s still dark out and be a zombie once the world rises.
Remember your why.
Why do you want to wake up earlier? Is it to get some quiet time to yourself before the family wakes up? Is it to finally find the time to work things into your schedule that a busy work schedule doesn’t usually allow for? Is it to feel less like you’re rushing to get to where you need to go or do what you need to do? Whatever it is, hold on to it. That why will be your greatest motivator as you establish this new routine for yourself. If it’s a good one, it will make this the easiest decision you ever make every single morning when that alarm clock goes off and you choose to not hit snooze, get your ass up and make that decision all over again.
After a few months of adopting this early morning routine, I fell into some bad habits. I’d get sucked into social media black holes or try to bang out some work emails or editing to get ahead of the day. Bad move. This time was intended for me. That’s why I started waking up earlier to begin with and I lost sight of that for a period. During that time, I found myself exhausted and agitated as the day went on. I was burning myself out. This wakeup time is meant to restore, rejuvenate and motivate you. Not suck the life out of ya! Remember your why and you’ll enjoy your new routine with ease.
One of the easiest ways to establish new good habits is to reward yourself. Now, the things you choose to do with your time in the morning should be rewarding in and of themselves, because they’re meant to be things that make you feel good. But, if those things you choose to do are the types of things that have longer term benefits and less immediate results, you may want to choose a more instant reward. I don’t know what you’d personally find rewarding so dealer’s choice here! Maybe it’s a sweet treat with lunch or an hour of shit TV that evening. Pick something to indulge in as a thank you to yourself for doing something good for you that may be a little challenging to commit to at first.
The time to myself in my mornings is genuinely the best gift I could ever give myself, so I didn’t need any kind of reward system in place, personally. I find all of the activities I choose to do in the morning incredibly rewarding and they set me off on the right foot for the rest of day, every time. If you want to see what an entire morning looks like for me from 4:15am-9:30am, I just posted a video on my YouTube channel sharing it all!
One last thing that I didn’t mention as one of my tips because it should be a no brainer but obviously, if you’re a night owl, you’re gonna have to go to bed earlier to wake up earlier if you want to function. Duh. For those wondering what time I go to sleep to wake up this early… I go to bed at 10-10:30pm. I get 6 hours of sleep a night, which research will tell you is 1-3 hours too little but most people with children will tell you, is plenty… and damn glorious.
Shenae Grimes-Beech is an actor and YouTuber with a highly engaged community of like-minded women who are here to stand up for what they believe in and lean into discomfort, especially when it means doing the right thing.