Episode 5 of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big fan of being told how to run my morning by 25-year-old men with no children.
I am a big fan of waking up early, though!
Today on the Self-Made Mamas Podcast I’m going to explain why I believe this habit is key to success for moms building businesses, and how you can get started now—even if you’re a self-proclaimed night owl.
I’m so excited to talk to you today about waking up early, so if you’re not a morning person, don’t click away. Don’t run away from me. I just want to talk to you about this, I don’t want to scare you. If you are a morning person, you’re going to love this, so stay tuned. I want to talk to you today about my habit of waking up early and why I recommend it to every mom building a business or chasing big goals. I firmly believe this is one of the simplest lifestyle changes you can make that will put you on the path to success, and drastically increase the chances of you achieving the big goals that you have set for yourself.
This can be a bit of a touchy subject. Every time I post about waking up early on my Instagram, it takes off. The post gets so much rage and so many upset comments from moms who, when they see the post, think I don’t have young kids or that I don’t have a busy life. They think that I just don’t get it. People tend to get very upset when I suggest they get up before their kids and get a productive start to the day. First of all, I think that reaction comes from a place of exhaustion, typically. That’s sort of a state most of us are in when we have very young kids. I also think it’s defensiveness, too. You’re not doing something and you feel like it’s impossible for you to do it, and then somebody has started harping on it. Telling you that this is one of the keys to getting what you want. Your brain doesn’t like that. Your ego doesn’t like that.
When you are being told to do something that feels uncomfortable to you, your brain is biologically wired to say, “No, we are not doing that. We are not doing that uncomfortable thing because it is safe to be comfortable, and when we are comfortable we are less likely to die. We’re absolutely not going to do that uncomfortable thing because we might die if you do that.” That comes from our evolutionary programming. When I’m talking to clients, I like to call this our “cavewoman brain”. I like to say that we have a cavewoman brain and we have a CEO brain. Our cavewoman brain likes to keep us safe from biologically perceived threats. When we get into a state of discomfort, or we encounter something that is uncomfortable or foreign to us, our brain tells us that it’s not safe. It makes us feel unsafe and that’s where fear comes from. That’s where defensiveness comes from. That’s where stubbornness comes from because typically stubbornness is a symptom of fear and defensiveness.
If you are someone who is very against waking up early, or you are determined to be a night owl, or you feel offended when somebody says that you should be getting up early or making certain lifestyle changes in order to achieve the success that you want…that’s okay. I don’t want you to feel judged for the way you currently live your life or the schedule you currently run on. That’s absolutely ridiculous. I want you to know that none of the advice I’m giving you is absolute. None of it is one size fits all, and none of it is intended to be extreme or absolute in any way. I, myself, have a baby. I have a preschooler (almost a kindergartner), a teenager in the house, and my husband works shift work right now. Previously he has been away for huge chunks of time due to the nature of his work. I get it. Things don’t always go to plan. I want you to understand that when I’m giving you this advice and suggesting you wake up early. I’m going to explain to you why I wake up early, all of the benefits to it for me as a busy mom and entrepreneur and someone with really big goals. I’m also going to walk you through some ways you can implement this habit if you choose to.
I want you to know that I do not do this every single day without fail, and I see a lot of that kind of rhetoric online. I hear about miracle mornings and these different books, usually written by men, telling you exactly what morning routine you need to have to become a millionaire and things like that. Frankly, I just don’t think that’s realistic when you have small children. Sometimes just making it out the door within 20 minutes of when you intended to is an achievement when you have kids. Let’s take that into consideration. Let’s accept that even if making this lifestyle change or schedule change feels uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be absolute. It doesn’t have to be drastic and it doesn’t have to be scary. If you’re feeling defensive or stubborn about it, check yourself and make sure that that’s not your cavewoman brain speaking. If you want to achieve CEO-level things, you got to think with your CEO brain. That’s what I’m going to try and help you with today when it comes to waking up early.
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Starting With Success
Let’s dive into why I wake up early and why I think it’s so important and helpful for people to wake up early. First of all, I really like waking up early because I like to get ahead of the day. What I mean by that is, I am really competitive, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs are. I have a very competitive personality, I like to be good at things, and I like to win. I don’t like to lose, sometimes to a fault. Getting up early makes me feel like I’ve won, like I’ve succeeded before I’ve even done anything. If I set my alarm for 5:00, sometimes 4:30 and I get up, and I’m downstairs within 10 minutes of that, I feel like I have succeeded. I feel like I’ve already had a win for the day and that sort of creates momentum. It creates this feeling of success within the first few minutes of waking up and that propels me forward for the rest of the day.
There is pretty much nothing that ruins my day more than sleeping in and getting woken up by my giant almost five-year-old jumping on my head or whacking me with a stuffed dinosaur or something like that. I get all flustered and behind and have to immediately tend to their needs. My boys right now are almost five and just over one. Obviously, teenagers are less of an issue in the morning because they don’t wake up, but the little ones need my attention right away, as soon as they’re awake. They need me to be doing everything for them right away. When I get up early, that’s my time where I don’t have to tend to somebody else right away. I only have to take care of myself, and I do take care of myself (I’ll come back to that).
My point here is that it feels like I have won before I’ve even actually done anything. Just the act of getting up early and successfully doing it and being awake makes me feel like I’ve won. That sets a really amazing tone for the day. If you’re someone who’s a little bit competitive, or you love that feeling of success and achievement and have that kind of personality, it can be a really motivating thing. You can almost compete against yourself like, “Am I able to do this consistently? I did it one day last week, so I’m trying to do three days this week,” and you can just compete against yourself. Be better than you were the week before. If you’re someone who’s just starting to wake up early, maybe you’re just getting up a little bit earlier each day. I’ll break down some ways to actually put this into action and get into this habit later on, but competing with yourself and treating it like a success, treating it like a win, is one really good way to motivate yourself. It’s one of my greatest motivators to do it and one of the reasons I love it so much.
Early Birds and Night Owls
As I mentioned briefly before, I also love having that alone time. I love starting the day on my own terms. I hate waking up and feeling like I’m just being dragged through the day. Motherhood is really consuming. It takes a lot. Driving everybody around for their things that they need to go to, making everybody’s meals, cooking, cleaning, kissing owies, finding exactly the right YouTube video, doing puzzles, and all these different things that go on throughout the day when you’re a parent of young children. Those things take a lot. Having a little bit of time just for me at the beginning of the day is so important for me and allows me to be so much calmer and feel so much more balanced. It really fills my cup so I’m able to pour into the other people in my family and also pour into my business. It really sets the tone for the day for me.
I’m also the most productive and creative early in the morning. This is actually different for everybody. Most people statistically are at their most productive early in the morning. Some people are night owls when it comes to productivity. It’s not absolute—some people really are more creative and more productive in the evening. I used to be. When I was a teenager, and back when I was in college, I was always more productive at night. I spent my entire degree doing all of my work and study in the evening, into the early, early hours of the morning. I functioned pretty well like that. When I left college, I had an arts degree which shockingly did not give me a job, so I was a bartender. Of course, I worked into the early hours in the morning, and I loved it. I really thrived on that schedule. Then, I had children. As you know, there’s a different level of tiredness that comes with being a parent. I quickly discovered that my night owl tendencies were not going to serve me while I had young children. This is not to say I might not shift back as they get older, but at this time with my children the ages they are right now, I don’t have any brainpower left at nine o’clock at night.
It’s all I can do to get through an episode of something on Netflix before I go to bed, or to have a conversation with my husband that I’m actually paying attention to. My brain is no longer at peak performance at that time of day because I’m tired. I’ve been tending to other people’s needs for most of the day. My baby is still nursing and I wake up throughout the night, once or twice usually, to nurse him still. While I’m trying to phase that out at the moment, it’s the reality of the situation. For the last few years, I’ve been waking up through the night with my babies. I have a very attachment-style parenting philosophy and that’s what works for me. It does mean that I’m up throughout the night, so I don’t have a lot of steam left by the evening because my sleep is generally interrupted over the night. I get up early and then by the nighttime, I’m done, I don’t really have anything left.
I certainly cannot do big CEO thinking at nine o’clock at night after dealing with my kids all day. Instead, I prefer to do that CEO style, big creative thinking work for my company, Self-Made Mama, first thing in the morning. That’s when I make plans and create structures and systems. That’s when I do any sort of design work. Anything creative or big brain type work, that’s when I do that because I can’t do it in the evening, and the later in the day it gets, the harder it is for me to do that. I save my workday hours for client work because that’s a bit easier. I’m not coming up with all of the big ideas the same way I am for my own business.
Time For Yourself
The other thing that I love about waking up in the morning is that it’s actually quiet. I live in a house full of boys. I have two boys of my own, my teenage brother lives with us, and I have a husband, and they are all very loud. They’re loud people. My house is constantly super loud, and first thing in the morning is actually quiet. I get to sit and drink my coffee, listening to the birds chirp, and there are no other noises. I cannot explain to you the peace that brings me and how blissful that is when you’re constantly surrounded by noise for the rest of your waking hours. That’s a really, really important part of my day. Again, it sets the tone. It grounds me for the rest of the day to have that peace and quiet.
I also have time to eat and hydrate myself, intentionally, when I get up early. If I waited for my children to wake me up, everything is about them. It’s about feeding them, watering them, getting them dressed and out the door or whatever it is that we have to do that morning. If I wake up early, then I actually have time to feed myself and eat something nutritionally sound that has what I’m looking for in a breakfast in it. I have time to drink on purpose, not realize at 2 pm that I haven’t had a glass of water yet and start chugging. I have time to be really mindful of my own nutrition and health. When I wake up first thing in the morning, I typically don’t eat right away, but I’ll drink about 20 ounces of water. I’ll have a big mug of coffee because it’s my routine. I’m learning that I shouldn’t have coffee on an empty stomach, but right now, it’s a habit I have that I need to work on. I typically don’t like to eat right away when I wake up, but getting up early gives me the time to get the planning pieces done for the kids. I can get myself organized, and get whatever I need to do done so that I do actually have time in my morning to eat something nutritious and drink water before they get up.
These things sound so silly, but those of you that have little ones know. This is stuff that gets pushed aside when you’re in the rush of motherhood, and it makes such a difference. These tiny little things that you do to care for yourself, like drinking water, are so important. They keep your brain and mental health functioning normally. They keep everything in check in your body, brain, and mind. Everything works better when you are able to fuel yourself properly, and getting up early gives me the time to do that.
Priorities and Goals
It also gives me time to do a bit of goal casting. Essentially, I just sit down and I write out my goals as though they are already real. I don’t know anything about cars and I know don’t care about them, but let’s say I want to own a Cadillac. I would write out things like, “I drive my Cadillac every day” or “I own a white Cadillac with peanut butter interior” or whatever it is that I want. Sorry, I have no idea why I picked that example. I’m literally the worst car person ever, but that’s an example of goal casting. You write out what you want as though it already exists, and you write it out every day really intentionally. I’m not a very woo-woo person, so I’m not telling you to do this because writing is going to make it come true. This isn’t some kind of three wishes situation. This is because writing it out actually activates your brain’s reticular activating system. It makes your brain treat what you’ve written out as a priority. You’re basically burning it into your brain as a top priority, so then all of your subconscious mechanisms will align with that priority. If we just leave them to their own devices, our brains will typically just make our survival a priority.
Going back to what I was saying earlier, your cavewoman brain takes over and it makes your survival a priority. It’s like, “Okay I’m going to keep you safe. I’m going to keep you sheltered. I’m going to keep you fed, and we’re not going to do anything scary or different. Because you need to not die.” That’s all your cavewoman brain is going to do for you. On the other hand, once you decide to flick the switch and to think with your CEO brain, your CEO brain can create better outcomes. Our CEO brain can say, “I would like to earn $500,000 5 years from now.” If you write that out every single day, “I’m going to earn $500,000. My business will make $500,000 in revenue doing this, this and this.” If you write that out every day, your CEO brain starts to take over. Your brain starts to think that making $500,000 is a serious priority for us, right? All of your subconscious stuff will start to align with that. All of the little tiny decisions that you make throughout the day, without even realizing it, will start to align with that. That is why goal casting and vision-boarding, or however you want to do it, that’s why it’s effective. It’s not because you’re putting it out there and some magic genie is going to come in and give it to you. It’s because you’re actually forcing your brain to treat this as a priority and it affects the decisions you make and the actions that you take. That’s why it works.
How to Wake Up Early
Those are my reasons for waking up early and why I love to wake up early. If you’re thinking,
“Okay, okay, okay. I’m going to do it. I’m going to try it, but right now I sleep until my kids wake me up and I’m not a morning person. I hate getting up in the morning. I don’t know how to change that. I’m a night owl. I like to stay up till like 12-1 o’clock and binge Netflix. I do not like to wake up.”
If you’re in that camp, there are a few things we can do to make this easier for you. Again, understand that this is not absolute. You do not have to get up at 4 am every single day to be successful at this habit. You do not have to get up at exactly the same time every single day for the rest of your life in order to be a successful person, in order to develop this high achieving habit. Just do your best every single day, and give yourself grace when it doesn’t work out like. Sometimes I wake up early and I had a really rough night with the baby and I wake up early anyway. By that night, I am done. I’m just so tired. I don’t wake up early the next morning if that’s the case. I allow myself to get extra sleep. You really have to listen to your body. At first, your body is going to push back just because you’re not used to getting up early. You have to learn to recognize what is feeling uncomfortable, versus what is actually being tired or exhausted. Is this sleep pressure or is this just not wanting to get out of bed? You have to learn to differentiate between the two and that takes time.
The first thing I want you to do is to make a plan for what you’re going to do when you wake up. You need to know why you’re waking up and what you want to do during that time. Otherwise, it’s just not going to feel worth it when your alarm goes off, and you’re going to stay in bed. If you’re someone that gets kind of foggy in the morning, write down what you want to do with that morning time. Put it on your bedside table or on the wall next to your bed or wherever. Write down what you want to do with your early morning and put it where you’re going to see it as soon as you wake up. That way, when your alarm goes off, you’ll be able to remember what it is that you wanted to do when you got up. That will make it so much easier for you to get out of bed because you’ll actually have a reason to.
The second thing I want you to do is to start using a sleep tracking device or an app or something like that to figure out your perfect amount of sleep. Usually, these devices or apps can just be turned on and you sleep next to it with the device on you or next to your phone or whatever and it will track your movements throughout the night. It will tell you when you’re in deep sleep and when you’re in the different stages of your sleep cycle and things like that. It will also tell you what your perfect amount of sleep is if you use it for a couple of weeks. Then you can count backwards and you can establish your ideal bedtime for the time you want to wake up.
Third, I also want you to start small. Don’t try to wake up two hours early right out of the gate. Start small. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier every single day until you’ve hit your goal. Two hours is what I like to do. I like to wake up two hours before my kids. My kids typically wake up around 7:00, sometimes 6:30, sometimes 7:30 if I’m really lucky. I get up at 5:00. In the summer they wake up earlier, so I get up earlier. I get up at 4:30 and sometimes even 4:00, and it doesn’t feel bad. It doesn’t feel that early because I’m used to it. I don’t want you to start out with that right off the gate, though. You’ll be exhausted. It’s going to feel like shit and you’re not going to want to do it. Set your alarm for just 15 minutes earlier every single day until you’ve hit your personal goal. I recommend two hours.
Finally, I want you to reward yourself for waking up. Have your favourite morning drink ready to go, whether it’s coffee or tea or whatever. Have it all set up ready to make as soon as you get up. I like to pick out really warm, comfortable clothes to throw on as soon as I get out of bed. That means putting them right beside my bed so as soon as my feet can hit the floor, I can throw them on. I also load up a podcast or an audiobook or something like that that I really like to listen to. Things like setting out my slippers downstairs. It’s doing little comfort things for myself. I like to take care of myself during those early mornings, which means I actually look forward to them. I go to bed excited to get up and have this nice experience in the morning. I highly recommend doing that.
I hope this was helpful for you. I really wanted to talk about this because it’s something that I get asked about a lot. It’s something that people don’t like to hear when they don’t want to do it. It is so impactful and I really, really recommend it, even if it’s just 45 minutes to yourself in the morning. I really recommend getting into this habit, and making that time count because it is really going to transform the way that you spend your day, which is going to transform the results that you get in the long term. That’s what we’re here to do. Thank you so much for being here.
A. Waking up early is beneficial for you and your business in many ways and this podcast outlines lots of those reasons. Before you begin to attempt waking up earlier than your usual routine, understand that this isn’t absolute.
- You don’t have to get up two hours earlier on the first day, and you don’t have to do it perfectly every day.
- Have grace for yourself through the process.
- Listen to your body as you go through the process. Are you just experiencing some discomfort at a new routine, or are you actually exhausted and need the extra sleep?
B. The night before, make a plan for what you’re going to do when you wake up the next day.
- Write it out and put it somewhere you’ll see it when you wake up the next day. This will help you get out of bed when you know what you’re setting out to do.
C. Start using a sleep tracking device or app.
- Use this for a few weeks to determine your ideal amount of sleep.
- Once you’ve calculated this, work backwards from the time you want to get up in the morning to determine when you need to go to bed at night.
D. Start small.
- Work towards your goal in small, incremental steps. Get up 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach your goal.
E. Reward yourself for waking up early.
- Set up your favourite morning drink so it’s ready to go for when you get up in the morning.
- Have comfortable clothes and slippers laid out, ready to put on immediately.
- Load up a podcast, audiobook, or music to listen to.
- Prepare any other comfort items that would make your morning feel like something you’d look forward to. The important thing is the feeling like you’re taking care of yourself and having a nice experience, whatever that looks like for you.
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast. You can find more information about working with us at theselfmademama.com or connect with us on Instagram at @selfmademama_. I can’t wait to chat.