Have you ever wondered how those other parents do it? You know… the ones who are able to work full-time and go to school and still be amazing parents? The ones that always seem so calm and collected and clean – clean house, clean and happy children, clean hair, clean clothes. The ones that you just want to hate but can’t because they’re just so darn nice and wonderful. Laura is one those parents, and I am so blessed to work along side her. Laura is a pastor at New Joy Church, a part-time student at Regent College, a wife, a mom, and just all-around amazing person and she has written this guest post to share how she is able to do all that she does with such peace and excellence. Enjoy and be inspired!!
before you call child protection services, this post is not about physical abuse. this post is about waking earlier than your children so that you set the tone for the day.
before children, i would wake up tired if i had stayed up too late the night before binge-watching a show on netflix. after children, i wake up tired all the time. when i was single and someone told me that with a newborn i could only sleep in 1-2 hour chunks of time for the first few weeks i would’ve thought that was literally impossible. and yet that’s what i did. and i survived. but even after the babies started sleeping longer i was still tired. all the time.
there are two culprits responsible for this tiredness: broken sleep and emotional exhaustion. even though my children are now three and 1.5 years old and regularly sleep 11-12 hours per night, on occasion, they still wake up in the middle of the night. abbie’s reason for waking up these days: her favourite lightning mcqueen blanket is not perfectly flat on her bed. sigh; you can’t make these things up. during waking moments, my mind is constantly whirring with thoughts and concerns: did abbie eat enough vegetables? did abbie eat enough? anna just ate a rock/bean/dirt (this girl still loves to put everything in her mouth!). will she be okay? did abbie poop today? did i? and this is all on top of work, school, keeping a home, maintaining and trying to grow relationships, etc… i know all of us have endless lists of responsibilities. so all of this caring of tiny humans takes emotional energy that can be exhausting.
i knew this year was going to be a challenge because on top of work and young children, i picked up my studies at regent college. it’s not my first choice of lifestyle, but it was a sacrifice that ray and i made together because i am so close to finishing my degree that it would be a waste to let it all go without giving it one last herculean effort. and this is my last effort as i am passed my deadline to graduate. it is literally now or never. the year started with a bang and showed no signs of slowing down and i began feeling like there was not enough time. i have full-time help with my kids (thank goodness for moms! god bless them!) but even with that, by the time the kids went to bed, i was exhausted. too exhausted to work or study. i realized that my best time was the early morning and that i needed to utilize those precious, quiet moments. i normally spent my best time snoozing trying to rest, but i realized that wasn’t rest at all – i was just prolonging my tiredness. and then the kids would wake up and i would rush rush all morning trying to nurse anna (she loves to take her time), brush teeth, get dressed, make breakfast, all while having two small children clinging to me and demanding the oddest things (“i want hot milk in auntie heidi’s cup with the green straw.”). i did not like starting mornings like this. and because i was so tired, i let the kids determine how the morning started and i felt like i spent the rest of the day trying to catch up, physically and emotionally.
so rather than stay up late, which i found nearly impossible anyways, i started going to bed earlier and waking up super early to start the day right: spending time with god then working/studying in quiet with no distractions, while my mind was sharp and fresh and i did not have any little bodies clinging to me or clamouring for attention. i have come to accept that tiredness is a normal part of this season.
shortly after i started this regimen, i discovered that pastor seth dahl of bethel church also advocates a similar lifestyle for parents, which he calls ‘don’t let your kids beat you up.’ you can view his video explaining his strategy here.
here’s a summary of what i do:
- after i put the kids down, i get ready for bed (i highly encourage you to shower at night! you go to bed feeling fresh/clean and you don’t need to shower in the morning) and try to do something relaxing (have a drink, watch a show with ray, read, play a game on my phone)
- i try to get in bed by 9:00pm
- i wake up at 3:45am and usually lay in bed for 10 or so minutes
- and for those wondering, it’s hard to wake up that early, but once i get over that initial shock, i’m awake and alert
- i drink water/tea and not coffee at this hour; i save the coffee for later in the morning
- by 4:00am i am downstairs at the dining room table, listening to worship music and reading the bible
- i am usually able to squeeze in two solid hours of super-productive work, and i’m talking ideas flowing, speed reading, fingers flying over the keyboard (i really believe it’s supernatural grace available to busy parents)
- around 6:30am i start getting ready (even though i work from home i always get ready in the morning (i.e. wear clothes, put on make-up, “do” my hair, meaning tie it in a ponytail))
- 7:00am i get the kids and we start our day together
i don’t keep up this schedule every day. but even if i go to bed late, i almost always wake up at 6:00am to at least squeeze in quiet time and get ready time before the kids are up.
and then the rest of the days just seems to go more smoothly than it did before. i feel less pressure to rush rush all day trying to get things done because some things already got done in those wee hours of the morning! even if you’re not a morning person, i encourage all parents to give an early start a try. a close friend of mine thought i was crazy to wake up this early, but she was also feeling the same ‘there isn’t enough time in the day’ pressure as me and although she is a night owl, she gave it a try and loved it!
parents, on an airplane we’re instructed to secure our oxygen masks before we help our children. the same principle applies to your life: if you are not in a healthy place, you will be in no position to help your children. you need to make time to cultivate your relationship with jesus and spend time on yourself, your hobbies and interests, and your relationships. you as the parent have the authority to set the tone in your family, not your children. you are the boss, not them. so don’t let them rule. even jesus would get away from his disciples and the crowds in the early mornings to spend time with his father. i challenge you to wake up even just one hour before your children to do what you need to do and see how your family’s lifestyle changes! feel free to contact me for any questions and to share testimonies!
by laura pak (firstname.lastname@example.org)