As you read my post title, you were either agreeing with a hearty, “Amen!” or thinking to yourself, “Oh! No! I’m a night owl!” Until recent years, I certainly would have been in the second camp. I’m not an early morning person, or a late night Owl. I need my rest. Everyone is better off when I get my rest. I have, however, learned to get up early in the morning. In fact, I actually cherish my morning hours.
The house is quiet, and peaceful. There’s a cool breeze blowing outside. The squirrels are scampering through the trees and the birds are chirping and tweeting merrily, “It’s a new day! It’s a new day!” I love the freshness of mornings. In fact, I believe mornings are a gift from God. Just imagine if our lives weren’t separated into days. I spend my mornings in quiet reflection. Sometimes I sit on my deck and just enjoy “being”. I enjoy watching the wildlife. I feel the cool breeze blowing against my face and the listen to the rustling leaves. I listen to what God has to say to me. I pour out my heart to Him. I write. I read. I prepare myself to love and serve the wonderful family that I’ve been given.
This time isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. It’s also a great joy!
Now, it hasn’t always been this way. When my children were younger, I was usually in bed until I was rudely awakened by some little person announcing, “I’m hungry! What’s for breakfast!” This is not a great way to start the day. As I tried to hang on those last fleeting, moments of sleep, I would be jolted into my work for the day. And once the day started, it was a race until the final moments of the day, when I dove into the bed exhausted from the demands of the day. And with little kids, there was no assurance that I would receive a full night of uninterrupted sleep. Yes, I know some of you are there. I can relate.
Yet, somewhere along the way, I discovered the gift of having “quiet” time. I learned that I had to find a way to make it happen so that I could be a better mom for my children and wife for my husband. I had to take care of myself before I began taking care of everyone else’s needs. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor by not giving myself time and space to recharge.
Here are some tips that I’ve learned to help moms of really young kids carve out space in your morning for quiet reflection, prayer, and meditation.
Get up at least 30 minutes earlier than your children.
It really is best to have this time before your mind becomes cluttered with the days activities, and the children have begun expressing their wants and needs. The quiet before the storm is quite invigorating. But… some of you have children with some sort of mommy radar. When your feet hit the floor, they come a running! I remember trying to get up at 5am, tiptoeing into my closet and a few minutes later I would hear my daughter crying from the other side of the house. I would think to myself each time, “Are you kidding?” I’ll be honest, the days I was able to escape her radar, I found myself fighting to stay awake as I read scripture. I was so tired.
So here’s what I had to do. I waited until later in the morning, when I was able to be alert. That meant my children were up. So, I trained them to give me that time. That meant that during that time they watched Sesame Street, or some other show. That meant, I had to learn to have my “quiet time” when it wasn’t so quiet. That meant I had to continually remind them that I was having time with Jesus, and they had to wait until later to talk to me. It also meant that my time wasn’t “perfect.”
I found that journaling my thoughts were a great way to keep my mind focused while there was noise. Journaling also helped me to regain my focus when I needed to attend to an urgent need. Interruptions do happen in spite of the training.
Resist the urge to get work done.
I cannot tell you how many times I lost my quiet, reflective time because I wanted to get something done, “really quickly”. Checking that one e-mail, washing a few dishes,or wiping off the table will steal the time you need to rejuvenate yourself. There will always be one more thing to do. Always. That’s the life of a mother. That’s why you have to choose to invest in yourself. Don’t worry, the work will be there when you finish. 🙂
- Train your children to give you your space.
As I mentioned earlier, I trained my children to give me time each morning to read the Bible and pray. You could require that your children stay in their room until a certain time, or until you come to wake them up. You could have a small snack and a TV show waiting for them each morning. Then you would spend a few weeks training them to get their snack, and watch their show quietly. Train them to whisper and to respect your time.
The important thing to remember is that you will have to invest time training them for a week or two. That means you won’t have much of a “quiet” time in those weeks of training, but this is a small sacrifice that will pay huge dividends later. Take the time to train them.
I must confess that I got the idea of my training my children to allow me to have the quiet time from Sadie and Bessie Delaney who co-authored the book, Having Our Say. These two ladies, who were centurions at the time of the writing of their book, described a practice that their mother had. She set aside time every day for an hour of prayer. Their mother ran a school full-time, and had ten children to raise, yet she never missed an hour of prayer. Each day she sat at a writing desk where she kept her Bible and her prayer book. She would even put her apron over her head! When her children saw her at this desk, they knew not to interrupt her.
Btw, it’s ok if you have a quiet kid or nursing baby on your lap. Do what you need to do.
Start small, but be consistent.
Deciding to get up at 5am, and spending an hour having quiet reflective time sounds great, but is it doable for the long haul? It’s better to get up 10 minutes earlier, and be consistent than get up an hour earlier for 2 days and quit. Commit to 5 minutes, and stop if you want. If you want to go longer, do it. Start small, but incrementally increase over time. Get as much as you can out of the time you have. Make it count!
- Do it imperfectly.
The mistake that I made for a long time, is waiting for the perfect “quiet time” that dropped down from heaven. I didn’t want to start until I could do it “right”. In the meantime, I did nothing. Do something, no matter how imperfect it is. Something is better than nothing. But once you start, you’ll learn better what works for you and your family. You have to start somewhere, so start where you are.
- Start TODAY.
Do I need to explain that further? You NEED this. Your family NEEDS this. Don’t wait until you get that book, or until you’re able to this or that. Stop today. Spend 5 minutes, quietly reflecting, and praying. Then plan your time for tomorrow.
What’s keeping you from having your quiet morning time?
What strategies have helped you have your quiet morning time consistently?
Please share in the comments below. We’d all love to hear from you!