Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Early bird

Last week my husband was working in New Orleans. I was at home struggling with my almost-four-year-old, keeping late hours (as I always do), preparing for a huge youth dance my husband and I were in charge of this weekend, and fighting back chest-pounding feelings of anxiety each day.

One night Emily and my sister-in-law, Melissa popped over for some girl talk. I'd been feeling lonely and their company was a delightful remedy. Besides oogling at Melis's new green shirt and searching online for the perfect white T, we talked mothering. I described to them Blaine's lack of obedience lately, and the way he throws a fit anytime it's time to leave somewhere (no matter the preparation I give him). I explained how he and I butt heads all day long and told them, 'I think I should have sent him to preschool. He needs more stimulation and I have so much going on. I just can't seem to give him what he needs.'

After Melissa left I went on to tell Emily: "I'm not sitting around eating bon bons and watching soaps. I don't do that much just for me. But Ineed to spend some time studying my scriptures every day and I really need to exercise three times a week. Those things make me healthier and more patient. I try not to spend much time on the computer when they are awake, but I have a lot of demands with my job at church, and endless projects I want to do, to say nothing of daily housework. I have so much anxiety because I can't seem to get it all done. I know Blaine needs more of my time and attention, but I don't know how to balance it all. And I've been mentally lazy; I haven't wanted to think deeply about solutions on how to improve my life right now. I'm just kind of hanging on and seeking fun instead of growth. It's not an ideal time in my life."

Emily described some of the things she's done to feel peaceful and faithful during difficult periods in her life. It wasn't preachy or condescending. It felt personal and therapeutic.

That night I knelt by my bed and told God all about it. I told him what I wanted for my life. I told Him I knew how to fix it, because, really, I have known for years. And I told Him I was scared, because the task ahead was so daunting to me. After all, I had tried before, and failed.

Then I got up and sent my husband a three page text:

OK when u get home i am committed to early to bed early to rise. I am never going to be the kind of mother i want to be if i don't change the way i do things. I need to sacrifice some habits. Blaine needs more of my time and this is how i can give it to him. Please help me. This is going to be so hard for me.

By the time I pushed 'send' I was in tears. I know all you larks are rolling your eyes at me right now. I mean, what's the big deal, right?

It's a big deal to me. I can do early morning if I have to, but it's never felt good or natural, and I've never had the self-discipline to do it unless a class or job has required it. It's been a struggle all my life. Ask anyone who's lived with me. My mornings are grumpy and incoherent and ugly.

I've always been a night owl. I've had energy at night; I've been productive at night. But it doesn't work anymore. I'm so tired by the time I put my kids to bed that I don't want to clean the kitchen or work on a project. Instead I end up watching Project Runway or glimpsing at blogs, which aren't evil things or anything, but remember, I've been complaining about not having time to fit everything in.

I don't think you have to be a martyr to be a good mom. But I do think parenting requires sacrifices. And this is my sacrifice right now.

As I look at my looming to-do list and my children's needs (particularly Blaine's right now), I see this sacrifice as the missing piece of the puzzle. If I can be up early and have my studying and running done before my children are awake, I can move mountains with the rest of my day. And if I can fit in a shower and makeup, too? Maybe look at my favorite blogs while I eat breakfast? That will be gravy!

Over the last several years I've become convinced that the women I admire most, those women that seem to get it all done, fit it all in, and be really content in their lives are making sacrifices like this. They're waking up early or giving up TV or something. This is what I have to do.

Wish me luck (and cheerfulness).


Amy said...

Wow. This post describes exactly how I have been feeling for the past year or so. I could have written this myself. Unfortunately, I am still searching for my answer. I already am an early riser. Best wishes and good luck :)

lori said...

Sure love you, Anne!
Love your point that motherhood requiring sacrifices. It does. And I think we're all always considering how we can better balance everyone's needs to be more effective for our children. It is HARD STUFF - physically and emotionally! And tricky because the answer isn't the same for everyone. Requires a lot of soul searching! Thanks for your insights and example, friend. GOOD LUCK.

Cheree Moore said...

Good luck with your journey! I know you can do it. I don't have kids, but I recently had to make a similar sacrifice. My husband moved 6 hours away, 2 weeks ago for a job. I will join him as soon as we sell our house.

In the meantime I have a dog that needs taking care of. So I get up and run with her. Granted she is not a child, but it allows me to meet her needs and I feel better throughout the day.

I hate mornings, but I am feeling like a much better person since I started this routine 5 weeks ago. You can do it too!

Miggy said...


I have this exact same struggle every. single. night. When my daughter was a baby it was much easier for me to go to bed around 10/10:30 because I knew I'd be up 2-3 times in the night and awake by 6:30-ish. Now she still goes to bed early, but sleeps in until 8:30 ish...so my bedtime has slowly crawled back to midnight. And it's killing me. And everything you described has also been a life long struggle. If I had to be up early for a job, etc I could do it, but it was still a struggle. Anyway, good post and I'm right there with you.

Nola said...

Good luck with your new goals. I use the excuse that my baby still doesn't sleep through the night and gets up at 6am, so I can't get up before she does. I think I need to give that attitude up. I could also find some things to sacrifice. I do have a long to do list, but I tell myself that right now my young kids come first and maybe when I am old my to do list will be easier to handle.

Rebecca said...

Good luck Anne. I am on the same journey right now of trying to rearrange my schedule to make everything work better during the day. I have a hard time going to bed early or even on time, at night because I crave the quiet time when I can do what I want. But it is just not working for me anymore. I do have to get up early to get 2 teenagers out the door for school(I have 5 kiddos) and I am always dead tired during the day. Good luck to us both.

I would love to hear suggestions from other moms on how they balance their day. House work, time with kids, personal time, husband time. I am finding this harder and harder to balance. Suggestions?

families are forever said...

I am confident you can do this goal!!! Go girl!!!

jeanine said...

Oh good luck Anne. I am the same way about early rising and staying up late. I've been thinking of the same thing... that I need to get up before my kids so that I can get my scriptures read/running in/shower taken before the chaos begins. Maybe I should join you on your quest.

Jonesy said...

Dearest Anne--
I admittedly wept when reading this post because it felt like I was reading a letter from myself. Me + Mornings = !@#$&*)$
I struggle with having the "willpower" to go to bed early & get up before the kids are up, even though I KNOW my day is eternally better when I do.
We had a Women's Conference this weekend on--get this--Balancing It All. I came away with two things that, for me, will be the key to making that great sacrifice you spoke of.
1. “The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen R. Covey
2. “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Martin Luther
Remember that you are not alone in your endeavor. Much love to you!

DeeAnna said...

I DO wish you luck! I have never ever been a night owl. I try hard not to be asleep before the kids. I really do understand your feelings. My boys are 20 months apart and I feel like I was in survival mode for the first 5 years or so. I look at pictures and think oh they were so sweet, but thinking back that isn't how I felt! They are 14 and 15 now, and have turned into sweet young men, but boy those racoons gave me a run for my sanity when they were small! Living in the moment is a scary prospect, but I do think that is the way to see this through.

Emily said...

You are not alone in this! I think there are a bunch of moms out there that struggle with this, me being one of them. I have this same conversation at least once a week with myself and Tim. I need to commit myself as you have done, but I don't want to because I know it is going to be hard! Best of luck, Anne. You can do it!

Dani said...

Amazing! I came to the same conclusion about my life just this past weekend. It's so hard and I'm working towards it slowly, but I know I can do it! Good luck and please let us know how it goes. You're amazing!

Sassy Salsa girl said...

Oh my gosh, good luck for sure! I am with you 100% on this one. I am going to try to be an early riser too. I am motivated by the fact that I am not the only one who has a hard time with it, lol!

Natalie said...

Anne, thanks for being willing to so honestly share what I think many of us struggle with.

Your post was candid and familiar. Matt (the husband that pops in on Bloom every now and then when I forget to change my ID before I comment) gave a talk this last Sunday. The talk he was given to focus on was titled "The Need For Love". It was just what I needed to hear, the need for less selfishness, and more selfless love for those around us.

Sometimes, I think because many of us are home all day with our children we feel like we're with them all the time, but I looked at my day the other day and realized that while we had been physically "together" I had been busy all day with other things. They were all good thing: stuff for church, housework, phone calls that had to be made etc., but the amount of quality time I had spent with my kids that day was very small.

How do we do it all? I think the answer to this question is different for each of us, and there is only one place to go for the answer and the strength to do what we need to do.

God knows how to strengthen and help us in our most fundamental weaknesses. He wants us to be good mothers to these little children He has entrusted to our care. He loves them infinitely more than even we do. He knows them better, and He is waiting to give us the knowledge and information we need to nurture and raise them well.

Now, if I can just do what I know I need to do. :)

Melissa said...

Great post! Jonesy's quotes are awesome too. Oh how I struggle with the early to bed early to rise thing. I cherish those few hours after everyone is asleep. I want to have some time with no one needing anything from me. But in the end, I pay because I stay up waaaay to late and am so tired in the morning. I have never been a morning person, but I used to walk my girls to school and continue with some exercise after. I don't know what happened except that the way I've over scheduled myself these last six months knocked the umph out of me. I realized the other day that my spirit has been trying to speak to me for sometime about this. I have just begun to listen again and am trying to wrap my brain around a new schedule. You will totally figure this out Anne. Make small changes first, and then move to bigger ones. My first small change was to plug into an audio book and buzz around my house for an hour or two each morning doing dishes and clutter control. The peace that a tidier house has brought has already transformed me. Maybe an hour or to of quality time with your son is a good first step? If you tried to change everything at once, it may become overwhelming, especially if something doesn't come naturally to you. Start small. You'll get there. ;)

Unknown said...

I think you can tell that you're not alone! I too could have written this myself. I don't feel as much in the funk as I used to (I've been able to read scriptures more), but it still is draining to do the mom/wife/personal development thing.
But I don't think it's anything we need to dwell on too badly. If we have periods of time when we feel that way--I think there is real purpose in them. And no matter what we do to change-HF will bless our efforts. Good luck Anne!

Lindsay said...

Thanks for your heartfelt and candid post Anne. I've known for a long time that if I just woke up an hour earlier that so much more could be accomplished and I could be more present for my kids and my husband during the day. You've inspired me to try and do better. Thanks!

carrie said...

I really appreciated this post too. If you make a list of priorities, making sure to put God and your family first, and then stay disciplined to do your priorities you'll be ok. Trust that God will help and inspire you in your good efforts.

Through out the day you can always say small prayers and keep him in your heart and mind as you struggle to do what's right through out the day. This is one way to "pray always."

Nicolds6 said...

ok well i am gonna join this bandwagon too!! I am the exact same way!!! I KNOW if I were to wake up and do MY THINGS before my kiddos I will feel soo much better about myself and my family!!! I will join you in this quest along with many other readers!!! PLEASE KEEP US POSTED ON YOUR PROGRESS so that we can have some inspiration to keep ourselves going!!!!

The redhead said...

I swear I could have been reading about myself in this post. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who has this "problem" I guess you could call it. I rarely go to bed before midnight because nighttime is when I can finally have me time. So when my sons wake me up a little too early for my liking, I tend to get a bit beast like. Baby steps though. I'll try for midnight tonight.

Unfailing Love said...

Anne. Like so many ladies said, your post describes my situation all too well! Thank you for having the courage to admit and share this. I find inspiration in your desire to commit to change. This past weekend we had bucket loads of rain, and I said to my hubs, "the first day it isn't raining, I'll be up at 5 am & go for a run." Did I? NO! Needless to say, getting the motivation to be out of bed early is extremely difficult for me too. So....I am going to commit to make this change too! I hope you keep us all updated on your progress. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Valerie said...

I think so many of feel this way. It is such a hard thing to "give up" this or that or add in this and that. I am still trying to balance it, and with a new baby on the way to our already family of 4, I feel the anxiety too. I have been doing so many projects becuase I want things to be "perfect"...ha ha ha, no such thing huh. I have a very hard time going to bed early too, but reading this gave me the inspiration to try to do the early to bed/rise thing too. Good luck (I know I will need it with you)

marymary said...

I relate so much. And clearly, from the comments, so many other moms do too. After a long time of struggling to find the courage to do it, I started getting up early to exercise and study this past January, and it has made a huge difference. The hardest part now is forcing myself to go to bed on time. Don't give up! I know the Lord is inspiring you to do this, and He will help you to be able to.

Lindy Johnson said...

Wait a minute, Anne, are you a mind-reader? Because the last few nights I've stayed up waaaaay too late and this morning my husband was like "What in the world are you doing staying up so late? Are you crazy?"

Answer: Probably.

I'm like you in that once my boys are in bed I want to party like it's 1999; that party usually includes a little blog surfing, photo editing, and some quality one-on-one time with Anderson Cooper.

This morning (before you had even posted this!) I vowed to have my lights out by 11pm. I'm so much happier when I get enough sleep and can awake somewhat coherent.

I look forward to hearing how it goes for you.

Abbie said...

I am so with you on this! Ya know, the more mommas my age I talk to the more I find out that I'm not the only one scrubbing down the kitchen at midnight. I've thought about it a lot. I'm a total night owl, but I'm pretty productive at night...usually, but I can see how waking up early to run and study scriptures would be a great thing.

Good luck! Let me know if it's worth it:) Maybe I'll give it a try.

Savannah said...

Wow that will be hard! I know what you mean, and I know exactly where you are! I think I may be in a very similar spot! I need to figure out what it is I need to change, because I'm not sure what it is!
I admire you for going strait to the Lord and pouring your heart out to him and for knowing what to do...and for trying to do it! It's much easier to not make changes, and you're doing it! I'm excited to watch you succeed!

Bloom said...

I love this community. Isn't it amazing how we can find strength in each other?

Thanks everyone, for your well wishes. Wouldn't you know, I was all excited to wake up early this morning, and then Roger was up ALL NIGHT LONG. So my morning didn't go as I had planned, BUT here's to tomorrow. :) (I was bummed, but I beat myself up about things like that too often. We can't afford to do that, you know?)

I'll keep you posted on my progress, and good luck to those of you who are on the bandwagon with me!


jayne wells said...

This is fantastic Anne. I can't say it enough. Thanks for the example.

Likely said...

I hear you, friend, although we don't know each other, but I know Miggy and do you know her? ANyway, I know what you mean!!! I am DEAD at night too, I can't focus at all and don't have the creative energy I'd hope for.

I know the feeling of trying to do sooo much. I have to admit that even if I fit sooo much into my day and that sooo much doesn't include my children, I feel like a failure. The days that I spend most of my time with my children (not just playing, but working too) I feel most successful.

I wrote a post yesterday I think you might like. It is just some pictures and a quote, but I think it's relevant and might be helpful.


chin up, tomorrow is going to start with a bang!

Caren @ The Attic Studio said...

It's 8:15. My 2 year-old has been in bed for about 30 minutes. My husband is working late. And what am I doing? Watching NCIS, waiting on LOST, and going through my Google Reader. Then I stumble across your blog post that details all the things I've been feeling, but avoiding so that I can have a few minutes of quiet time before bed.

I vow to myself to get up in the morning and exercise before getting ready for work. I have been telling my husband I would for weeks, but I always come up with an excuse (it's not hair-washing day and I don't want to get sweaty...I need just 30 more minutes...I needed to check my email...you know the kind).

I wish all of you the best in your new schedules. Thank you Anne for saying what we've all been feeling. I really enjoy the honesty you bring to your blog. :)

Barb said...

What an epiphany! Thank you for sharing your insight. I have that creeping suspicion about my own life, as well.

Allison said...

I have a 4 (& 2) year old who need my attention tomorrow, laundry that needs folding, endless list that needs checking items off, and where an I?

I am up reading blogs @ 12:31 am
Know your name!

Rachel said...

I understand. My one and only goal this year is to have more meaningful mornings. It's hard, but I think I'm slowly moving in the right direction. You will too.

Emily said...

What a refreshingly candid post. Thank you.

And, as one who a genetic night owl and most definitely not a morning person, I can say with honesty that my days are exponentially better when I wake up early enough to take care of me (study, run, shower) before the demands of the day start rolling in.

I am sure that your struggles with your son right now are probably really complicated, but right before reading your post I saw the following link on another blog that I follow. Just thought I'd pass it along. Good luck.


Cathy said...

thank you. been going through the same thing, still trying to find my solution. It really helps to know I am not the only mom trying to figure this out.

Brooke said...

So many times we've been promised that this will bless our lives (early to bed). I, too, decided that this was one change I needed to finally accept. It really was going well until I got pregnant. I've slacked off since then. I figure I need all the sleep I can get with 5 kids and one on the way. But I believe in it! Keep trying and I'm sure you will be blessed.

Marlo said...

Anne!!!! I loved this post. It's amazing how many of us are in the same boat. I have come to the same concusion as you about getting up early with the same misgivings. The last time I rose early consistently was when I was on my mission and only by a sheer miracle from the Lord. A few months ago I was reading the Ensign and this article: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=8bbe15e67b5b2210VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD pierced right to my heart and I knew I needed to change. Morning devotional. How could I have not figured that out on my own. I have not completely given over to it yet, but I have made some changes and I have to say with Spring coming, waking early is kind of nice. Also, for some reason, if I wake up to the kids crying or making noise, I wake up angry, but if I wake up myself even 5 minutes before them, somehow, magically I am much happier. Crazy, I know. I just want to wish you good luck and know that people are thinking of you.