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How to Get Up Early — Even if You Have Young Kids

How to Get Up Early When You Have Young Kids

As we’ve been going through the Get Up Early Challenge this month, so many moms have written in and told me how they would love to get up early but they just can’t figure out how to do so because they have young children. If that’s you, this post is for you.

However, I need to preface it with this: I’m all about grace, not guilt. If you feel like you’re in a season of life where you’re not supposed to be getting up early, then this post isn’t for you. Just skip it.

Also, remember that everyone’s definition of “early” will differ, depending on life circumstances. I may be getting up at 5 a.m., but you could be getting up at 6, 7, or 8 a.m.. Everybody’s schedule is different. Do what works for you, okay?

Now that we have that out of the way, here are my tips on how to get up early even if you have young kids:

1. Cut the excuses.

We can spend so much of our life living under lies. We live under the lies that we aren’t good enough, we can’t do that, we’re not X. When we tell ourselves lies for long enough, we start believing them to be truths.

Some people truly do thrive in the morning and some people thrive in the evening. But don’t say, “I’m not a morning person” if you’ve never tried being a morning person before.

If you’ve not gotten up early for 3-4 weeks in a row, you can’t really say one way or the other what you are. So don’t tell yourself “I’m not a morning person”, if you’ve not proven that statement to be true.

Ask yourself what kind of messaging you’re telling yourself not just about this, but about all areas of life. Cut the excuses and don’t let them hold you back, because you usually have to believe that you can actually do something before you’ll really try to do it!

How to Get Up Early -- Even When You Have Young Kids

2. Go to bed early…if you can.

You are not going to successfully get up early if you stay up late. You have to develop the discipline of going to bed early.

What are you staying up doing at night? Is it productive or mindless? Some people get SO much done at night or they intentionally stay up to do something that they love and that refreshes them. I’m all for that!

But if you’re getting sucked into the rabbit hole of social media, or you’re mindlessly filling time just to avoid going to bed, then give going to bed earlier a try!

You might even challenge yourself to go to bed shortly after your kids go to bed. For some of you this won’t work, and I’m definitely not asking you to sacrifice your marriage and time with your husband for this, but at least consider the idea of going to bed shortly after your kids do and then maybe getting time alone with your husband before they get up in the morning.

3. Try getting up 15 minutes earlier.

Instead of feeling like you have to revamp your entire schedule and life, try making small changes over time. Even 15 minutes can make such a difference.

By getting up 15 minutes earlier, you could have time to spend thinking, praying, exercising, journaling, reading God’s word, and/or planning your day… there are so many different options! Pick one or two of these things that you are going to get up and do during the first 15 minutes of your morning.

Then, challenge yourself to go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes earlier and invest a little time into something that will refresh, encourage, and positively impact your life!

How to Get Up Early -- Even When You Have Young Kids

4. Take a nap when your kids do.

As moms, we often think we shouldn’t nap when our kids nap, because it’s wasted precious time to be productive. But think about this: What if you were able to get up an hour earlier and really knock out your to-do list, so that you could enjoy a nap during your kids’ nap time?

Over time, I have become a big fan of napping. One morning last week, I took a nap around 9:30 a.m. because I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it through the rest of the day.

Because I had gotten up early and I was finished with all of my important morning tasks, I was able to just lie down and take a short nap. I didn’t have any guilt, and I felt so refreshed and rested for the rest of the day!

5. Teach your kids to stay in their rooms longer.

I know this one is controversial, but as parents, we are in charge. In most cases, we can teach our children to stay in their rooms longer, so that we can have more time in the mornings to be productive. (Have you seen these Okay to Wake Clocks? I’ve had many moms rave about their effectiveness to me!)

Think outside the box. Get creative! And remember to give yourself grace and focus on the progress you are making — not on how far you might be from where you’d like to be!

What do you find helps you get up early each morning, even with younger children?

P.S. For more encouragement and practical ideas, watch my video here on how moms of young kids can get up early.

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38 Comments

  • becky says:

    My problem is teenagers, lol! I can’t sleep until they’re safely home and they frequently are out late due to work or socializing. Or they’re up late doing homework and whatnot. So it’s rare that I can go to sleep before 11pm…which means 7am is about the earliest I can handle getting up right now. But teenagers are lots of fun so it’s ok 🙂

  • Barb says:

    As someone whose kids are now grown and we hope was always a night owl who suffered through the elementary years, my experience is it is much easier to keep kids in their room at night than in the morning when they are raring to go. Our kids went to bed fairly early but we’re allowed to read or play quietly until the feel asleep, not getting up except to potty.

    • Beth says:

      Mine are the opposite. They know they can’t come out until 7 and rarely do except to potty, but bedtime with the three year old is rough right now. She will often find ways to keep herself awake until 10 or later. She is not allowed out of her room, but calls for us or gets out of bed and wakes her brothers. The other day I mentioned that we all have to do things we don’t like sometimes, and she said, “Yeah, like sleep. I hate going to sleep!” 😛

      • Dez says:

        I can relate! We had to stop giving our 3 year old naps cause he wouldn’t go to sleep till past 10. So frustrating! And he’d still wake up before 7. But as soon as we cut out nap time, he would go right to sleep at 830 and now he even sleeps past 7! It was tough, especially cause I was pregnant and coveted my daytime nap (and our 4 year old had JUST stopped napping), but it was so worth it to have the nights with my husband back and getting to sleep or have quiet time in the mornings. Also, it’s really helped to have him have quiet time in his room when he’d usually nap. Then I get a breather, and if he’s having a hard time he’ll sometimes take a short nap. It may be that time!

  • Laura says:

    When my kids were little, I took the time I needed to sleep (whenever I could, including naps) so I could still be in a good mood by the end of the day. Parenting is exhausting and frustrating! Finding ways to be productive and get adequate sleep is key. Try a few things and see what works for you. Get hubby’s ideas. He knows you well.

    Getting my coffee or tea prepped the night before made it easier. I love getting up, even 15 minutes, before everyone else to drink my coffee and pray or think. It helps start the day off right!

  • Becky Przy says:

    Knowing that the early morning hours is probably the only quiet time I will get all day, is incentive enough for me to get out of bed at 4:00. I have quiet time ( coffee), workout, shower and laundry going before the kids get up (5, 2 and 9 months). I need that “me” time so I can be a more patient mom and wife.

  • HokieKate says:

    My excuse is that I don’t want to wake up my kids. I’d love to be a person that gets up early to do an exercise DVD, but the television is right outside my girls’ room. They need their sleep, but my noise would wake them up. Interestingly, nighttime noise is not much of an issue to them. When I do get up earlier, most of my quiet morning tasks are just frittering time away.

    Besides bible study and journaling, what suggestions do you have for silent morning tasks? I already shower and get dressed before they are up.

    • Michelle says:

      I spend my time straightening the master area and doing laundry. I always leave a load of towels, or something that won’t wrinkle easily, for the early morning. That still leaves time for Bible, showering, dressing, and starting breakfast. My children are early risers and by then will be getting up.
      If by chance they sleep late (ha) I catch up on reading and emails, and school planning.

    • Jenn Y says:

      I can relate to this. I live in a condo that is tight-quartered and my daughter is sensitive to noise in the morning. I am still working on getting up early in the morning (my 19 month old daughter still doesn’t always sleep well at night), but I have to be up at 6 anyways for my job. When I do wake up early, some tasks I have found that I can do quietly, besides what you mention are: putting clothes in the washer or taking them out of the dryer, folding clothes, making a to-do list for the day/week, menu planning, catching up on emails. I would be open to other ideas 🙂

    • Laura says:

      Have you tried a white noise machine for your girls’ room? Each of my boys sleeps with one, and they have been a lifesaver in our noisy house with 3 boys! 🙂

      • Dez says:

        I agree! This has been so helpful! Our middle child is such a light sleeper. Sometimes our ipod will turn off the white noise app in the middle of the night, and he’ll wake up and come ask us to turn it back on! I’d be afraid to even make my coffee in the morning without him having his white noise.

    • Beth says:

      My question would be, what do YOU want to do with the early morning time? I currently don’t need the time to get many chores done but I do need 20-30 minutes of quiet time. I try to get up between 6:30 and 6:45 (still working on it!) and give myself about 20-30 minutes of quiet time. I usually don’t even get dressed at this time. My toddler son usually wakes up within 15 minutes of our getting up (if not before us 🙂 ) but he is not allowed out of bed until 7:00-7:15. This works well for him because it’s good for him to have a little “quiet time” in bed with his stuffed animals – he’s happier for it. When I get him up I spend the next 30 minutes or so getting us both dressed and starting laundry and maybe one or two other 5 minute jobs. Sometime during that 30 minutes I put hot water in his oatmeal to soak so once the 30 minutes is done his breakfast is easy to make. If you want to do the exercise DVD before your girls wake up could you play it on a desktop or laptop in another room (assuming you have one)? Or if it’s ok if your kids are up while you exercise could you have them go to bed earlier so that they still get enough sleep? If your video is only 30 minutes or so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to adjust your kid’s bedtime for that amount of time. That may not be an option but if it is you could try it.

    • HoosierMom says:

      We live in a small house with four children, two of whom are light sleepers. When I get up early (usually after being awakened by one of them), I turn on the bathroom exhaust fan and the range hood fan in the kitchen to make a sound buffer. Then I usually start my HE washer, which is fairly quiet. Eventually I can run the dryer, which makes even more white noise. With all of these on, I can do most household chores without worrying about waking anyone.

      Food prep for the day is fairly quiet, as is mopping the kitchen floor. If you know the exercise DVD well, you may be able to turn the sound off and follow along.

  • Eleanor says:

    As a former lifelong night owl, it is possible to change your habits. I signed up for a 5:30a.m. Exercise class down the road from my house. Since I have to pay for 8 weeks at a time, it is important for me to be there ( accountability from my husband who gets up for work at 5:00 also and is a morning person.) It got me going in the right direction, going to bed early and making sleep hygiene a priority. I agree with Crystal that taking a nap when my 2 year old naps is a huge help also because sometimes I do stay up a little later or need some extra sleep.

  • Heather says:

    I had to laugh a little at the title to the post. My goal is to NOT get up so early with young kids! The last thing I want to do is get up earlier than they do! I didn’t have to use an alarm for years. Now that the youngest is six, we’ve just now started using an alarm again, just in case he accidentally “sleeps in.”

    But more power to all the go-getters out there!

  • Hannah says:

    I used to be the kind of night owl that would stay up until 2AM and get up at noon. Becoming a mom forced some changes, but I still could barely roll out of bed at 8AM. After reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode last spring, I decided to become a morning person (unprecedented for me!!). I trained myself to get tired at 9:30PM (to the point that I can tell the next day if I stayed up until 9:45) and wake up around 5:30AM. I currently have a three month old, so I don’t always get up quite that early, but it’s always before 7AM. I put clocks in my kid’s rooms and instructed them to stay in bed until 7, so I for sure get some quiet time even if I wake up a bit later than I like. The incentive of a calm house, a cup of coffee, and an hour for prayer and Bible reading is enough to get this former night owl out of bed early.

  • Lisa says:

    This has been a hard transition for me. My husband & I both work full-time kids (2.5, 7, 10) are in school & daycare. I want sooooo badly to stay at home. I’m a graphic designer & know I can create my “own” job – but I’m in fear freeze mode. Most nights I’m torn between staying up & vegging with my husband (sometimes too late) or staying up to work on my dream. AND I’m trying to create a habit of getting up at 5 am to have quiet time before everyone else gets up at 6. I’ve found that’s easier when I’ve found something I look forward to doing every morning – like drinking hot coffee with a mound of whip cream & sprinkles – and reading/praying. Just trying to get the balance of which is more important – staying up to work towards staying home, vegging with the hubs OR getting up early for me time. I’m tired.

    • Renee says:

      Lisa,

      I will pray for you and this tough situation you are going through. When I worked, I felt the same way you are feeling. My hubby would stay up late, and I would stay up with him so I could spend as much time as possible with him. Then, come the morning, I would be so tired and I would drag throughout the day at work. It is a tough call on what to do, because you want to get as much time as possible with your family, and we kind of put ourselves on the back burner, and don’t think about how it effects us physically or mentally for that matter. It sounds like you have a way to produce an income from home, and I would encourage you to pursue that avenue. It may take some late nights for a while, and some sacrifice, but the reward at the end of staying home would be worth it in the end. But, don’t wear yourself so thin, that it damages you or your time with the family. Have a wonderful day, and again, I will be praying for you and your family.

      • Amber S says:

        I would appreciate advice on how to go to bed earlier without offending my husband. I could easily fall asleep every night at 9, and in fact it’s rare if I make it through storytime without the book falling on my face, but then I try and get up and shower and eat dinner with my husband and not fall asleep on the couch as we watch a show together; we head to bed around 11 or midnight.
        Then my 1 year old wakes me up between 5:30 and 6:30, and I start my day exhausted. I can’t really nap due to my energetic 4.5 year old. Any one else have a night owl husband, and how have you worked out a good routine for everyone?

  • Rosanna says:

    I used to be a night person, but having kids cured me of that. Realizing that I need the quiet time before they get up was enough for me to change my ways. To be honest, though, 6 a.m. is hard during the winter months when it is so dark and cold. It is worth it so I still do it. My kids have clocks and are not allowed out of their rooms until 7:30 which is something we have trained them in from the beginning.

  • Rebekah @ More Radiance says:

    These are great tips…. even though I am not a mom!! I have a hard time getting to bed earlier but lately, I have been trying harder. One thing that helps me is putting away my technology, drinking a cup of tea to wind down, and journaling or reading. Having some sort of evening/night routine helps SO much. I would recommend the idea to anyone!
    Rebekah
    http://www.moreradiance.com

    • Emily says:

      Any tips for the mom who is up 2-6 times per night? I love the quiet morning time before the kids are awake, but right now one or both (7 months and 2.5years) are in a rough sleep patch and I am exhausted all the time.

      • HoosierMom says:

        Emily sweetie,

        Just sleep.
        All you can.
        Whenever you can.
        That will make you more productive, even if your little ones are awake, too.

        I know that the quiet and alone time is so restorative, but at this stage, you need sleep more than about anything else. Except maybe a maid. : )

        Until my little girl began to mostly sleep through the night at nearly two years old, I had absolutely no idea how terribly sleep-deprived I was during that time, or how negatively that affected my energy and ability to get even the basics done. It was just a long, slow trudge through the grey haze of days and nights.

        And just in case it helps, we tried about everything out there to get her to sleep. What finally worked was a lot of prayer, no more nursing (sadly), magnesium oil, and melatonin gummies. Now she can go to sleep calmly and quickly, take a good long nap during the day, and generally sleep all night. And we don’t have to use magnesium or melatonin anymore.

        Bless you, tired mama. It really, really, really will get better. Someday, you’ll get your morning quiet back.

      • lyss says:

        Yes, Emily, I’ve been there, too! It will get easier, even if the days (and nights!) are incredibly long right now for you. Sleep in when you can, and remind yourself that these days will NOT be forever!

        My 2 are very close in age and were horrible sleepers. I was sleep deprived for years. And looking back, I probably had PPD, which didn’t exactly help. I didn’t enjoy my babies as babies. Not sure if you’re in that situation, but if you are, don’t feel guilty. Get help if you need it. I should have asked for help, but I didn’t realize I needed it.

        Hang in there, and learn to rest when you can. If it means takeout and a maid if you can afford it, do it. If it means begging a friend to babysit while you get the house cleaned or nap, do it. If it means shrinking your to-do list, do it. If it means asking your husband to clean the kitchen so you can take a bath and go to bed early, do it. If it means going to bed with a messy house more often than you’d like, do it.

        I wish someone would have told me those things when mine were babies! Hopefully it can help you. Now at ages 6 and 7, my kids sleep well. The days will come, Emily!

      • Kelly S says:

        Hang in there!

        We have kids about the same distance as yours, and to be honest, I started waking up early right about the time they were your kids’ ages, though my youngest was still up lots to nurse (and my oldest gets up once or twice). They are now 3.5 and 14 months.

        As long as I am healthy, I have found that personally, it’s worth it to get up anyways AND go to bed at normal times. Even when I was up numerous times a night, I generally felt better if I had gone to bed at a reasonable hour and then woke up early. The consistent times helped a lot (after a few days to a week of an adjustment period). Plus, the payoff of having that time, and starting my day off right, was worth it.

        But, if I am pregnant, or sick, or really dragging, I will forego the morning routine and just sleep as late as possible. Right now I’m pregnant and have reshifted my daily routine so I can sleep until breakfast is ready (my husband cooks it). We’ve had a very busy couple days with late nights and lots of travel, so this morning, I even stayed asleep until he actually was leaving the house (an extra 30 minutes or so). So, I think it depends on how you are physically feeling and which is more important. 🙂

      • Jen says:

        I have 3 kids (7, 4, & 1). My oldest did not sleep thru the night until he was 4 and my 2nd baby was almost 3-the little guy still wakes up a few times a night sometimes. There have been many nights when i was up 10 times or more.

        This is not a season for getting up early! I often struggled seeing my mom friends with kids the same ages as mine jumping out of bed and being all productive super early. I felt guilty that i was doing really good just to get up when i heard them up. But my friend’s kids slept thru the night! And they went to bed early and fell asleep (my children struggle to go to sleep, too). My friend’s situation was not mine and she wasn’t judging me, i was.

        My husband worked nights so tag teaming the middle of the night duty was not an option. All the kids sharing a room did not allow for letting them “cry it out” since they would wake each other up. I was stuck.

        I finally realized, this is still only a season….a long season, but just a season. They need me. And they need me with whatever little amount of sleep i can get more than they need me to get up early and exercise!

        I would love to get up before them-i am working on that now that they are sleeping better. But for that waking up multiple times a night season, you need all the sleep you can get! Sleep in, sleep during their naps, go to bed when they do! And try to be thankful that you have the energy to get up with them when they need you! 🙂 Good Luck!!

        • Jo says:

          I have a post coming on Monday on How to Get Up Early When You Have a Crazy, Ever-Changing Schedule… that is not really about getting up early at all, but about doing the best you can with the season you’re in, while also giving yourself grace and doing what is best for you and your family. I think it will encourage you!

  • Savannah @ Budget Preps says:

    I would LOVE to get more sleep on the weekends and follow your suggestion #5 by making her stay in bed a little longer…but I feel it is unfair because her internal alarm clock is adjusted to our morning before work/daycare routine and she’s up at 6am. I feel that making her stay in bed for longer on the weekends would confuse her little 2 year old brain.

    Maybe I’ll try what someone above in the comments recommended, a night time “don’t get out of bed”. We can put her to sleep in bed by 730 or 8 (right now she’s asleep by 830) and let her “read” or play with a doll.

  • Dawn says:

    Ah, so that’s where babies come from. The mail carrier delivers them via Priority Mail! That is suck a cute picture of Kathrynne (I think).

  • Karen says:

    No one here is under 18. That said, I do get up very early with the 2 rescue dogs, 5 a.m.. I will listen to an audio book, free from the public library, do some computer connecting, or plan out my day on paper.

    All devices that emit “blue light,” which keeps the brain awake, must be put away at least an hour before bedtime. I have trouble getting to sleep otherwise.

  • Logan Mate says:

    Wonderful article! Showing this to my wife right away!

  • Ashley says:

    I don’t completely agree with your philosophy on naps. Sleep experts say it is better for your health to sleep 8+ hours at night than it is to sleep 7 hours at night and take a 1-hour nap. A nap might feel refreshing, but sleep is more beneficial when it is in one large chunk. From that perspective, I don’t see the benefit to waking up early and then sleeping in the afternoon. I would rather sleep a long time at night and then get stuff done while the kids are napping (unless I have a newborn). Also, a mid-morning nap is not feasible for moms who have awake children to care for.

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