I read. A lot. A lot of books, a lot of blogs, and a lot of glossy magazines especially when those books, blogs, and magazines have tips for improving my life. I’m not fan exactly of the self-help genre, but a good “Ten Tips for a Smoother Morning” or “Declutter Your Stress Away Today” will always catch my attention.
And I like reading advice, especially if it’s something new, something I’ve never heard before. I am open to trying just about anything to improve my life, my marriage, my parenting skills, my health and my home, but sometimes I struggle when the advice doesn’t make sense to me or doesn’t work out. It makes me question myself. Did I not do it right? Did I not try hard enough?
Only recently have I come to the conclusion that while most of the advice and tips are good, I need to become a better judge of what’s good for me.
Recently I’ve seen a trend in many of the blogs I read pushing the idea of waking up at least 15 minutes – and often much more than that – before your family. It does make sense. If you are the one who leads your family through the morning, get a jump on your own morning routine. Have your coffee. Shower and get dressed. Pray or meditate or journal your thoughts. Then you can be 100% present and available to your family when they wake up.
Nice idea. Good advice. But … it doesn’t work for me.
My husband wakes up at 5 am and leaves by 6. My two teens wake up around 5:30 am and leave at 6:50 and 7:15. My youngest doesn’t crawl out of bed until 7:20, and we head up to the bus stop at 8:25. If I woke up fifteen minutes earlier than everyone, my morning routine would last for nearly 3 hours! That is not what’s good for me.
Instead I get up and around at about 6:45. My husband is gone (he comes back to our bedroom to kiss me before he leaves), and my teens are all ready for their days. I wake up in time to sign anything I’ve forgotten, give hugs and kisses, and wish them a good day. Then I have coffee, wake up slowly with social media and blog-reading, and am fully awake and aware in time to help my five year old through her morning.
This is good for me and my family for lots of reasons.
My husband doesn’t want to chat over coffee in the morning. He doesn’t want eggs and toast. He wants to shower, eat cereal, put on his uniform, and watch Sportscenter, and he wants to do it without anyone bugging him. Done and done.
My teens are completely self-sufficient in the mornings. They get dressed on their own, pack their own lunches, and make their own breakfasts. They are responsible for getting themselves through the morning routine successfully (even if sometimes they need help), and I am incredibly proud to say they’ve been takin’ care of business for several years now! Allowing them to manage themselves in the morning has helped them learn independence and given them space to find a morning routine that works for them, habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.
Alli still needs help to stay on track in the morning. She’s only five and still pretty easily distracted. In order to get her through her morning routine and onto the bus on time, I need to be awake, present, and not grumpy. I need time to drink coffee and prepare for my day, and that’s exactly what our schedule allows.
Helpful advice abounds on the internet, and lots of it is very good. Even the waking-up-early advice is good. For me it’s simply a good reminder that I need to always keep in mind what’s good for me.