“What did you do all day?” Dan would ask me.
Not in a condescending or judgmental tone – but he would come home from work and naturally, we’d talk about our day because that’s what husbands and wives do.
He has a really cool job. We both work in entertainment so we’ve got tons of interesting, scary, fascinating, ridiculous, and outrageous stories to tell.
Well, I used to work in entertainment, and now I hang out with Sweet Pea all day.
I used to drive wicked cool machines like forks and booms, hang out in theatre ceilings, climb 60 foot ladders above thousands of people, play with lights worth more than my car, and set up audio gear for rock stars.
…and now I hang out with Sweet Pea all day.
Don’t get me wrong, I loooove hanging out with sweet pea. She’s hilariously becoming more human each day. She jokes around with us and can initiate a chase. She’ll take my finger and direct me to the refrigerator so that I can open it, and then she’ll point to what she wants to eat. She’s getting more comfortable with using a fork, and can pick up pieces of food most of the time with a simple stab ‘o the tines. She knows that if she puts her hat on, it means she can go outside, even if she throws it on the ground as soon as the sunlight hits her skin. If I build a structure out of mega bloks, she’ll come over to tear it apart and then laugh at me.
I got out of bed…. I changed diapers… I managed to feed her without having to change her outfit… I made breakfast and lunch but didn’t quite come up with something for dinner yet… I pumped a whole 8 oz of milk… I had a shower …wait, no I didnt… I pooped… wait no that was yesterday… or was that the day before?… we read some books… played with some toys… had a couple naps, omg…what did I do all day?!!
“Oh, you know. Kept her alive,” I reply.
What else could I say? I’ve given him the actual play by play before, so it’s already lost its novelty.
The problem is this: I was doing plenty, but accomplishing nothing.
It was a really good day if I was even able to log into my blog dashboard and tell him I worked on that. But of course, it would have been an hour or so during nap time which most likely translated to 20 minutes of productivity because, lets face it, I wasn’t getting inspired on cue.
So while I’m mesmerized by tales of Dan successfully managing and directing a crew of 75 strangers he had met that day, I’m here thinking to myself “Sweet Pea won’t scratch me for another week because I was able to hold her down aand trim her fingernails!” Of course I refrain from bragging about what now sounds like a miniscule and insignificant detail, because I’m aware that the standards on my outgoing filter for “things other people find interesting” are teetering at a dangerous low.
What did I freaking do all day? I must have done something cool! Please, someone prove to me that the significance of the past 12 hours can be whittled down to something more than a few dirty diapers and the constellation of toys on the living room floor.
If you think I must have been a zombie during the day running on no sleep, think again. I was definitely getting at least 7 hours of sleep – when she napped, I napped. I adjusted my bedtime so that I was asleep by 8pm.
I know those numbers sound ridiculous. Up at 2? Sleeping by 8? What kind of life is that?
Well, it turns out that waking up early is really popular. Does the phrase “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” ring any bells? While reading interviews of the most successful people in the world, one of the most common practices between them is waking up early. I discovered The Miracle Morning written by Hal Elrod and started to adapt some of the key principles in the book. He creates the ideal morning routine and a handy mnemonic to go with it, but the most crucial part of the whole equation is waking up at least an hour before usual.
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy like 2am, but if you usually wake up at 8am, try 7. If you get up at 7, try 6. Baby steps is key, unless you have amazing self-discipline.
And honestly, I struggled for a long time – both physically and mentally. Sometimes I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was winter – and under the covers, it was heaven. Some days I wouldn’t hear the alarm until it had been going for two hours. Sometimes I’d shut off the alarm thinking I was ready to get out of bed, but then I’d have to nurse Sweet Pea and I’d accidentally fall asleep until sunlight flooded my room. On those days, my heart sank and I felt like a failure. I would beat myself up even more if I just pressed “snooze” for only 10 minutes more, and then fell into such a deep sleep that the alarm didn’t wake me up again. Wasted mornings, wasted time.
When I did get out of bed, I was on top of the world! Aside from a baby with inconsistent sleep patterns, no one needs you at 3am. No one needs a snack, a drink, a meal, asking you to do this or that. No emails, phone calls, or texts need answering at 3am. There is no toddler clutching at your thigh, no errands that need to be run. This time is for you, and you alone.
What an amazing treat! No really: it’s ahhhhmazing.
I’ve experimented with a few different schedules, and after several setbacks I’ve discovered what works perfectly for me. I’m asleep by nine, and my alarm is set for 3:37am. Why 3:37? Not sure actually, I knew I didn’t want a “round” number, because I’m weird like that I guess. When I tell people what time I go to bed, they either look disgusted, or they look at me like I’m a deprived, lost little puppy.
“Nine o’clock? Oh you poor thing.”
Okay, hold up. What do you actually accomplish after 9pm? Or even 8pm? I know I wasn’t getting much done. Yes, I watch television, and I’ve got a ton of shows on my roster. I’m a sucker for reality tv. But I also have a PVR, and if I have the ability to watch a 1 hour episode in 40 minutes because I no longer have to sit through the commercials, I choose that.
Sweet Pea is also fast asleep before 9:00, so that’s a bonus. She’s never uncharacteristically bouncing around “refusing” to sleep for some reason. I’ve heard of the struggles, and I’m happy to say that I’m not a victim of this phenomenon.
The biggest distraction of all, however, was my phone. Bah, that smartphone!
It was all too easy to get caught up snuggled in bed, then logging in to Facebook to catch up on the day’s events. I was addicted to my mommy groups and have traded many hours of sleep for interesting debates and conversations. I’ve since “unfollowed” many groups so that I check up on them when I want to, and not just when someone else posts a topic. I love them too much to leave completely, but it’s way easier to not get sucked in when that red notification box isn’t staring at you in the face.
Still, this took work and until I made the decision to unfollow some groups, my attempts at decreasing my Facebook exposure were futile: I disabled notifications [fail], downloaded a “Self-control” app which immediately locked me out of my entire phone for 9 hours (oops) [fail], deleted the Facebook app but then started using the browser instead anyways [fail]. The addiction is real, guys!!!
I had no problem ditching my news feed, it was all the groups that were getting me. So if you’re in the same boat as I am, unfollow, unfollow, unfollow!!!
The ultimate cocktail of more sleep + more accomplished is an amazing feeling! And the best part is, I am able to be more present with Sweet Pea. If we’re hanging out together, we’re hanging out together. I don’t have to look for a way to squeeze in bits of writing or research when she isn’t looking, because I was able to do it that morning.
By waking up early and decreasing the amount of control that Facebook had over me, I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was before. If you asked me a year ago how I was supposed to get all this done with a kid that won’t leave me alone, I probably would have cried. Now, it’s a piece of cake.
What would you do with a few extra hours of alone time? Let me know in the comments!!
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