The #5amClub

As I’m sure any busy parent knows, there are many hats we have to wear.  For me, as a work at home mom, besides being a parent and spouse, I am also a student, business owner and sometimes an engineering consultant.  So how do I get things done for me? I felt like I was missing something.  And I’m not just talking about dentist visits,  haircuts and pedicures (although that’s fun too).

I tried making a schedule.  You know, workout here, business work after working out, engineering work Tuesdays and Thursday mornings,  family time in the afternoons and on weekends, and study in the evenings.  I coloured coded it and posted in where we could all see it.

The schedule helped to some degree.  I felt less scattered and more focussed.  It was easier for me to put off things that were interrupting my scheduled work.  I started to use an app that would remind me of my other tasks – the ones I had put off to focus on my present task.

But something was missing.  I rarely read for pleasure or self-interest (other than the 5 minutes scrolling through Twitter for interesting links). And I never had time to blog.  Something needed to change.  I was going to bed too late.

So I asked another busy, blogging mom who does all sorts of awesome things – Mom on the Run.  She graciously shared her time with me over the phone on a Saturday morning.  We chatted for about an hour.

She shared her 5am plans with me.  I was all in.  And she moves fast – within hours, we had a Facebook group, and group calls set up.  It was fantastic.  Here’s her post on how it happened.

The first week was great.  Easy to wake up (helped by the personal text messages from Mom On the Run sends around).  Harder to go to bed but I managed.  I set goals for the week and completed them.  I wrote goals for the year, and I am making baby steps for those to happen.  I wrote, for fun, only for me.  I felt great – I had more patience, the “get-ready-for-school” routine seemed to go more smoothly.

Then Christmas break arrived (I took two weeks off from the 5amClub) and stayed up too late watching marathons of “Suits”.  Then the entire house fell sick – one after another.  We’re all recovered now but it is hard to get back into the routine.

This is the first week I’ve felt healthy since Christmas.  I’m back into my workout routine (it still needs adjusting but I am working on it).  Everything needs a little bit of tweaking.  This week has been challenging to get up – I wake up but leaving the warm bed has been  difficult.  I’ve learned a few things from this experience:

  1. Do not try to meditate/practice conscious breathing in bed.  Same goes for reading.
  2. Find a cozy spot in your house that is far away from your warm bed.
  3. When the alarm goes off, get up within 5 minutes (or I am less likely to stay awake otherwise).
  4. Don’t try to do  “work” tasks; it doesn’t give me the same sense of peace.
  5. Journal every day.
  6. Set reasonable weekly goals.
  7. Go to bed at a reasonable time (so I can get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep although I think I need 8).

It is a great experience to do this for yourself.  It doesn’t have be at 5am.  That just happens to be the time of day when it’s quiet and I can have uninterrupted time for myself – and I won’t be distracted by other tasks or needs.

So encourage all busy people to find time for themselves.  Time to think and plan the future.  Time to do things for yourself that you really enjoy.  I think you will find that the benefits from making time for yourself are unexpected and fulfilling.

And now I get two days to sleep  into 7.   I enjoy that too.  Have a great weekend.