Pre-kids, I used to be a morning person. And by “morning person,” I mean the kind of person who could stay up studying (yeah, that’s it, studying) until dawn and still manage to function all day.
But then I became a mother.
Suddenly, I was operating in a near-permanent state of exhaustion. Any “tiredness” I had experienced before was a total joke in comparison to the new tired, which clung to me like one of those gut-hugging Lycra shirts and made me look just as bad — the bags under my eyes were more like luggage. Like a fool, I held out hope that once my kids were past infancy, I’d be able to get some rest. But no, because then they started school. And not only did I have to get up at the crack of dawn, I also had to operate coherently enough to prepare them some semblance of a nutritious(ish) breakfast, and get them looking like they didn’t crawl out of a dumpster. Talk about adding insult to injury. I had to be a morning person, whether my body was in agreement or not.
So if you’re a night owl in the same tree, never fear. You may never be a “morning person,” per se, but you actually can make getting up in the morning less crap-tastic by trying out a few of these suggestions. Or just struggle every morning for the rest of your life. I mean, it’s your call.
1. Get started the night before.
I know, I know. Once the kids go to bed, it’s prime time to chill out with some mindless TV or a glass of wine (or a full-body latex suit, a pair of handcuffs, and an economy-sized bottle of lube…whatever floats your boat). But if you take care of a few things you’d usually do in the morning — pack lunches, lay out clothes, find shoes that wouldn’t be lost if your kids could learn to just put the damn things away in the first place — you can shave a few minutes off your morning routine. This will allow you a few more minutes of simply being awake before you actually have to be awake and functional.
2. Wake up whenever you wake up.
Sometimes your eyes pop open, you look at the clock, and think, “Sweet! I’ve got another 15 minutes to sleep.” But do you think somehow, in that tiny sliver of time, you’ll miraculously transform into a well-rested and cheerful individual? Hell naw. Everybody knows the only thing that 15 minutes will do is piss you off. If you find yourself waking up before your alarm, it’s best to bite the bullet and get up, even if you theoretically could sleep longer. Instagram a picture of the beautiful sunrise like you’re a motivated person. Caption it “yoga time!” for good measure.
3. Get tech-y with it.
One awesome thing about living in the internet age (besides funny cat videos) is that we’ve got a ridiculous amount of helpful technology right at our fingertips. Just google “sleep apps” and you’ll find a bunch of stuff for your smartphone, from apps that help you get a better night’s sleep, to apps that track your sleep patterns and wake you when you’re in the lightest sleep state, to alarms that wake you gradually and/or make less annoying sounds. There’s also an app that will mimic the feeling of a hand grabbing your ankle from underneath the bed. (Okay, not really, but I can’t actually think of a much more effective way to get someone up!)
4. Move your ass.
Stop groaning at the thought. Some movement in the morning can help perk you up for the rest of the day. I’m not saying you have to put on something stretchy and hit up the 5 a.m. boot camp at the gym. Start small, like by putting your alarm somewhere you can’t reach it unless you get out of bed. Then resist the urge to climb back under the covers, even if you just have to wander around like a zombie for a few minutes. Do some deep breathing while you’re propping your eyelids open with toothpicks.
5. Find your “why.”
If you start out your day thinking about the bad things on your to-do list, it doesn’t exactly make getting out of bed sound enticing. So try thinking about something you’re thankful for or something you’re looking forward to — even the smallest thing, like trying out that new coffee creamer or working on a fun project or pooping in peace after the kids go to school. Think about how much easier it is to get up and going when it’s, say, payday. See what I mean? Motivation.
6. Lighten up.
Getting out of bed when it’s dark is kinda like a hemorrhoid: a real pain in the ass. That’s because our bodies are naturally programmed to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light. So the sooner you can expose yourself to a light source in the morning, the better. Yank open those curtains, step outside in the sunrise, or just stand really close to a lamp, close your eyes, and pretend the glow is coming from the tropical sun on a beach where you’re sitting with a frosty margarita and a super hot companion. Or wait. Don’t pretend all that, because then you have to face actual morning reality (which for me usually involves frustration and burnt toast and a sense of being chronically behind). Just turn on some lights, is what I’m saying.
7. Sleep better.
Okay, so a bed-wetter waking you up at 3 a.m. or a co-sleeping toddler kicking you in your face might make this a teeny bit more difficult. But, getting a better night’s sleep means you won’t wake up feeling like you’ve got a hangover. An hour before bedtime (and yes, you need a bedtime) step away from the phone and the computer. Use the time to prepare for the next morning, do something relaxing, read a book, file those crusty calluses off your feet, whatever. Keep your room around 65 to 68 degrees, which scientific types swear is the best temperature for a sound night’s sleep.
8. Don’t give in.
It’s tempting in the evenings to tell yourself you’ll go to bed in just a couple more minutes. But before you know it, it’s after midnight and you know you’ll be hurting in the morning. Remind yourself of this. When you start justifying why you need to stay up late, think about how much more it sucks to peel yourself out of the sheets when you’re exhausted from being a night owl. Facebook stalking your high school boyfriend isn’t worth it. (Spoiler alert: He’s overweight and balding.)
9. Water works.
It’s a proven fact that your body operates better when it’s well-hydrated, and you’ve just spent hours without a drink. Chug that liquid first thing like a frat boy on a dare. Speaking of water, splash some on your face so you’ll look less dead. Because…wow.
10. Dress yo’self.
As soon as you get out of bed, get dressed — right down to your shoes. It sends a psychological signal to your body that you’re ready for action, even when you can barely form an intelligible sentence. (Besides, nobody wants to get back under the covers with shoes on.) It doesn’t matter if it’s a T-shirt older than your kids and a pair of snow boots. I said “psychological signal,” not “fashion statement.”
You might never be one of those morning people who leap cheerfully out of bed before the sun, ready to seize the day, bouncing around like they’ve had a caffeine-and-cocaine enema. But you can at least be one of those people who doesn’t want to stab said morning people with a fork.
That’s good enough, right?