In my normal rounds, I read a lot of advice online and listen to a lot of self-helpy stuff. I do this because the struggle is real and because I want to be the best me that I can be. When I am feeling down or trapped or like a horrible person, I can shout at Google and find someone else who has struggled with the same thing and come out on top (or at least realized it was bullshit).
There is one piece of advice that I come across again and again: Wake up an hour earlier.
I always thought that this made sense. Before I had Little Dude, I woke up at 6 and left the house at 8. In those two hours I exercised, showered, got ready for work, read, and drank coffee. Sometimes I used that time to pick up the house a little bit or sometimes I left fifteen minutes early and stopped at the store. Hubby always thought I was a little crazy. He’s the kind of person who works out after work (when I am too tired and apt to put it off) and to sleep until 10 minutes before he has to leave, shower, and go. But me? I always needed a slower, quieter morning. I like to be the first one up and in the summer I like to sit on the front steps with my coffee and some inspirational reading to get my day started. It was a great way to get the day started, with a little self care and a little self love.
When I went back to work after having LD, I started getting up at 5:45 to leave at 8. Most days he went to my in-laws’ house, which was on my way to work, and the exchange was quick. He was just an infant then and getting him out the door was as easy as a change, a bottle, an outfit, and a car seat. I packed his diaper bag along with my work bag. I skipped my morning coffee on the steps “just for one summer” and I quit going for walks outside as exercise “just for one summer.”
Now LD is a full blown toddler and some days he goes to daycare and I’ve changed my work schedule and now I get up at 5:45 and leave at 7:30. I like to wake up before my alarm because it affords me a little more alone time BUT I also sometimes wake up for two hours in the middle of the night and need every last drop of sleep I can get. I’m told this is most likely hormones, which apparently can effect your sleep for YEARS after giving birth. Getting out the door is a chore now and most days I don’t even drink my coffee at home. Last week, I got to sit on the couch and drink it which ended with a full blown fight because LD wanted to hold my cup and then wouldn’t give it back. It’s just easier to put it in my to-go mug and drink it after drop off, even if I don’t enjoy it as much. I still get up and work out and a good morning is a morning when I can work out, shower, and do my makeup before LD wakes up.
Hubby still thinks I’ve crazy.
The thing is that any time I am feeling like I don’t have enough time to read or like I’m not getting enough alone time or like I want to learn something new, the internet seems to suggest waking up an hour earlier as the very first change to make. “Get up an hour earlier and spend that time reading!” “Get up an hour earlier and do nothing but spend that time in quiet solitude!” “Want to write a book? Get up an hour earlier to get your writing in for the day!”
Yes, I see the logic in this. Yes, this is true for some people. But a lot of these posts, specifically self-care posts, put this advice alongside “make sure you get enough sleep.” But what if you’re going to bed at 9:30 and getting up at 5:45, or earlier? What if you’re laying awake for two hours at night? What if you’re doing everything that you can?
And that, I suppose, is the thing. Sometimes you have to just give in to the fact that you are doing everything you CAN and that isn’t everything you WANT.