If you know me personally, you know that I am by nature a schedule-ly individual. The survival of my brain cells + emotions depends on following a routine. I truly thrive on a schedule – always have. But it is surprising how crucial (vital!) routine has been for my life as a stay-at-home mom.
I worked part-time (twenty-one hours) outside the home for the first four years of our marriage. I resigned at 18 weeks pregnant to stay home and prepare for the baby. I joined the SAHM mom ranks two years ago and while I became busier in some senses, there was more flexibility. I intentionally took the first three months of Kya’s life slowly, not committing myself to much of anything as I adjusted to being a mom. Those low-key months were restful, joyful, and life-giving as I learned how my new role intersected with my existing roles as a wife and homemaker. But I quickly found myself desiring more structure. So after those three months I started adding back responsibilities – outings, meet-ups, volunteering, photography, and ministry. I stayed quite busy but still lacked the daily and weekly structure I needed to be fully productive in the ways I envisioned.
Our lives took quite a turn in the spring of 2016 when we announced that we would be uprooting our family from Oregon and moving to Salt Lake City, Utah. The whole idea of structure went out the window as we were frantically preparing our home to go on the market, finishing up and handing off responsibilities at our church, job searching in Utah, and spending time with family and friends. Life was in upheaval! We moved to Utah in the fall of 2016 and I continued in my role as stay-at-home mom as I began to build my photography business in a more focused way.
My days with Kya got really long really fast, especially during the winter. Daniel was gone 12 hours a day at his new job and I felt like Kya and I needed more structure to keep us from going stir crazy. She was sixteen months old at the time and was transitioning down to one, early afternoon nap. It was exciting because one nap meant more freedom. Utah winters are pretty cold and there is snow on the ground for weeks on end so outdoor activities are limited. But we ended up working out a pretty good schedule for our weekly grocery trips, errands, play dates, library days, children’s museum visits, and occasional trips to the park (on the rare mild days).
As the warmer (aka HOT) weather has moved in, we’re getting outside more and feel good about our summer routine. Mondays are our catch all day – usually means lots of laundry, meal planning, reading, maybe a nap for me, and just an all-around reset day. Tuesdays are for grocery shopping (and housework). We like to hit a couple of grocery stores (Sprouts + Trader Joe’s) in the late morning hours before lunch. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings are more flexible – we run, play at the park, go to the pool, meet up with friends, work on house projects, clean, or take care of errands. I have recently started dedicating most (early) afternoons to photography + blog work. Kya naps from 1:00-3:00 PM so that gives me some time to get a few things done on the computer and work through my goals list. Some days are more productive than others, but overall there is good forward motion being made.
But one thing that has always frustrated me about our daily schedule is that I never got into the habit of waking up before Kya. I knew that the morning hours are the most productive and that I should take advantage of them, but making that happen has taken me a while. Kya has been an early riser from her earliest days, so I guess that’s been my excuse. She even went through a phase between 15-18 months when she would wake consistently around 5:00 AM every day – In the dead of winter. Those were long days. Getting up before her was just not an option at that point.
I’ve assumed that getting up with my child would always work well. But as she gets older, I’m finding myself needing a truly quiet start to my day – for coffee, Bible study, and prayer. In addition, I need some extra hours each day to pursue personal + business projects. I’ve realized that waiting for my child to wake me up puts me in the wrong state of mind as I enter my day. I’ve been reacting to the day instead of responding to the day. Over the last six months, Kya has settled into a 6:15 – 7:00 AM wake up time (sometimes a pinch earlier). I’ve finally bit the bullet and my alarm is set for 5:30 AM, Monday – Friday.
These last eight days of early rising have been the best thing for me! The extra time (up to an hour depending on when she wakes) seems to yield several hours in return because of the jump I get on the day. Instead of stumbling into Kya’s room half asleep + half awake, I go in and happily greet her as she wakes up. Instead of being annoyed that she wants breakfast so urgently, I’m able to promptly and cheerfully attend to her. Instead of struggling to get us ready by 10:00 AM, we can be ready to head out the door much earlier if need be! The shift in my wake time has paved the way for a less reactionary and more responsive way of living. I truly have quiet time and I’m a much more attentive mom. I don’t know why it took me so long to incorporate this practice into my routine!
Early rising is not an earth-shattering or novel idea by any stretch of the imagination and it’s not one that will for sure follow me into every stage of life, but right now it’s what I need to help me maximize my twenty-four hours and be all that I am meant to be in this season.