Cultivating the Early Bedtime for Yourself: The Inner Work of Advent

I have to confess, I am not a morning person.  In college, I was pretty rhythmical and got up at 6 AM almost every day in order to go workout, but I also didn’t have to talk!  I am working hard to go to bed and get up and be pleasant, LOL.  (Again, I don’t mind being up, it is more the being up and talking :))  Are you a morning person?  Are you up before your children?

In order to have any sort of a chance to be a morning person, you have to actually go to bed at a decent time.  And to go to bed at a decent time, you have to get off your computer, stop your reading or knitting, and go to bed!  Many mothers I know seem to have no problems setting limits on the TV, but have difficulty turning off the computer or putting down their crafting.  What are your own limits for your computer time??

One thing that helps many mothers is to have a nighttime routine.  This may include making sure the kitchen is cleaned up, having  things ready for homeschool the next day, having clothes laid out for family members, taking a bath or shower if need be.  The morning sure goes so much easier when you prepare the night before!

Many mothers ask how they can get up early and ahead of their family if they are co-sleeping; in other words, the minute they put their feet on the floor their child wakes up.  That is frustrating and a challenge!  One thing I think about it is what if you used this early time to sit on a chair in your room with a small booklight and use this early time, even if it is only ten minutes, to read something that is uplifting to you?  This season of your children being small and co-sleeping will not last forever!  Your child is a precious gift, and I think when we can just approach this with a “ho-hum” attitude that “Mommy is awake and doing her special work” rather than “I can’t believe this child is up again!  I never get any time to myself!” things go so, so  much better.  Think positively on the fact that your child may sleep or rest and give you ten minutes to start this special work on preparing yourself to be a good Mommy for the day!  I think too, if you can be persistent over time, your child will see you are not up doing anything “fun” and may at least learn to rest through this time.  Too often we give up after only a few days of trying!

Some mothers say they cannot get up early because their children are already up so early.  This too, is a season that will not last forever.  How about trying to get up even 15 minutes ahead of your children?  How about using a special night light that tells children when they can be “up” and that they must rest in their beds until that light is on……Here is an example of one my husband’s friend created:   He gave us one to try yesterday and we tried it last night.  Our girls really liked it, because they knew when it was time to get up even though it was dark outside and my oldest, who is an early riser, didn’t seem to feel so preoccupied with checking the time every few minutes to see if it was time to get up.

Some mothers say they don’t want to go to bed because this is their time with their husband.  I understand that; I love my time with my husband as well!  However, one trend I notice is that husbands and wives are on their separate computers at night for several hours and then come together for talking and intimacy.  How about trying to shorten your computer, reading, crafting, or TV time so you can be together or plan to spend time together first?  Isn’t your relationship with your spouse much more important than your reading time?

Some couples also have designated nights to work on things on the computer or in reading material, and designated “nights off” where they just come together!  How wonderful!

Going to bed and being refreshed benefits you and your whole family!

Happy meditating on this important subject,


9 thoughts on “Cultivating the Early Bedtime for Yourself: The Inner Work of Advent

  1. I’m glad you posted on this subject. I’m a mom of a ten month old (my first child) and she’s been waking up at 6 and sometimes 5:30 in the morning for several months. It’s been hard on me to say the least. She sleeps all night long from her bedtime at 7 until when she wakes, and she takes great, regular naps. She just seems unable to sleep until there is sun out there. My husband thinks she may just be a morning person.

    *sigh* We co-sleep and I’ve been trying to get out of bed before her but I wasn’t a morning person before the baby so she almost always wakes me up. Plus, any time of alarm (soft music, a soft vibration) I would set to get me up before her just wakes her up too. It has been a little frustrating. I know this time will pass but I’m in the thick of it with no real idea when.

    I think this may be the first time I’ve commented on your blog but I read it everyday on my iPod Touch, she needs me lay by her while she falls asleep for her naps so those 20 minutes I usually spend getting in my blog reading. I just want to say I’m always inspired by this blog and it has been a big help as I begin our Waldorf journey, especially the posts on rhythms and anthroposophy.

    • Bev, Hang in there, I know it is challenging, and thanks for reading!
      Here’s hoping you can sleep some when your baby sleeps during the day!

  2. What a great post! I am NOT a morning person either and boy do I love my alone/ husband time in the evening. I DO need to put down my books/ computer and talk more to my husband. Thanks so much.

  3. Carrie,

    I used the nightlight technique several times a few years ago when my girls were younger. One of my twins has always been an early riser and when the clocks would change or in summer, she was getting up before 6am!! I set a very low watt “blue light” nightlight on a timer in their closet. I started it coming on at a certain time and then back it up a few minutes each week until 7am. It worked! She knew if the “blue light” wasn’t onm she needed to stay in bed. Most of time she would fall back to sleep!
    Hang in there moms of young ones..She finally started sleeping in a bit at age 6.


    Donna A

  4. WOW Carrie – I know I say this time and time again, but whenever I come to your blog, it’s like a personal message you have channeled and shared just for our family. It is ALWAYS so timely what you write about.
    We have had some challenges in this area over times past, just in the last week, we have come up with the plan that our whole family goes to bed at 8pm (we get into bed with DD at 7pm for reading/lyre/sleepy boobie) so by 8pm we are all going to sleep. DH and I rise at 4am. DH has a home business he is working on building to be a source of income that allows him to be at home with us fulltime as well – in future homeschooling years, we will then both be the homeschoolers, which we are passionate about, as well as the beautiful life it will create for DH to be at home and have more time with DD and myself. Anyway, we previously were trying to have DH in the study of an evening after dinner to work on the business whilst I put DD through nighttime rhythm. This was just not happening at all, DD wanted to see DH, DH was not getting into the study, when he did, he was so tired from the day (he commutes to a fulltime job) he was feeling very unproductive and it created a huge stress in our home/in me to try and get everything organised to get him into the study to work.
    So, with our new bedtime, and DH and I rising at 4am, DH has 2 hours of fresh awake and alert time first thing in the morning when he can work on the business. I do meditations/daily intentions and organise our breakfast. We have also adapted the eating philosophy of ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper’, we have a main high protein meal for breakfast which stabilises our blood sugar for the day. YUMMO – sitting here eating chicken and veggie soup for breakfast as we speak! 🙂 We were very inspired for this idea by having read in quite a few places that the most restorative sleep happens before midnight; so 8 hours sleep from 8pm is alot more restorative than 8 hours sleep from 10pm.
    DD is now 2y/o and we are able to rise out of the bed without waking her which is great – but I do remember a time when exactly as you describe, as soon as I moved my arm/put my feet on the floor DD would wake. At the time (having been a first child) I remember thinking ‘when will I ever be able to rise and meditate etc as others do before DD wakes’, but I really want to share with everyone that EVERYTHING is a season and shall pass. ENJOY That time of just being with your wee ones (I wish I had, had more inspiration of this kind at the time I was living through this, although I do also know that when you are in the situation, it can be quite frustrating, despite what others say). If you can wake yourself, yes it is nice to be up and free to do what you need, but if this is not possible – cultivate your mind, meditate and set forth daily intentions from that snuggly place of being bundled up with your wee one. I recently spoke to our Ayurvedic practitioner about this, as I was having the situation where sometimes I couldn’t rise from DD without waking her and he said, that we get too caught up in thinking we need to be sitting in some special pose in some special place, to meditate, but you can do this wherever, just focus, be mindful and enjoy where you are and mentally move through your breathing awareness, meditation etc.
    I had to smile as I very much related to your words about having no trouble with not watching TV (we don’t have a TV in our home), but with battling to turn the computer off/put crafting down – that has very much been me of recent times, I would very much be up until 2am doing things I thought I ‘needed’ to do, but I saw the impact it was having on our days, very out of rhythm, me tired, and realised it was not value add at all what I was doing. I guess i have really been meditating on and asking for guidance on what is essential and only reading very special blogs (such as this one!), creating filters on my email so the ‘junk’ gets sorted without me having to spend time on it etc.
    My suggestions to others if they are finding they are ‘consumed’ by what they may think they ‘need’ to do, is just to meditate (snuggled up with your wee one) and ask for guidance and support. I very much believe that the inspired thoughts of our new rhythm came to me from much wanting, meditating and asking for a solution to what was clearly not working for us.
    I could write about this for ages as it is something that is very much in our life atm, but I guess I just wanted to share some of our experience to show that I really believe that if one asks for answers and solutions in a mindful meditative way, that Source will bring them – we just need to be aware and open to receiving. For me/us, I just kept reading in SO many places the quotes of the most restorative sleep being before midnight and that it was best to go to bed at the same time as your children and rise early in the morning (you may be surprised, if you do something like this and rise at an earlier hour than you normally would (like 4am!!) that your wee one may be in such a sound sleep, that they may well not wake – or maybe not, but it’s worth a try. I actually have found that when I tried to rise at 6am, often I couldn’t get up without waking DD as she was starting to stir by then, but with rising at 4am, I am easily able to get up without waking her, as she is still very sound in her sleep!). I kept reading it EVERYWHERE – in the end when it finally ‘clicked’ it was almost as though Source was SCREAMING it at me!!! 🙂 love to all xxx

  5. Thanks so much for this thoughtful post. I have been a ‘disciple’ of Kim John Payne since I heard him speak at the local waldorf school. Your post was a great reminder.

    I did a huge toy purge after the weekend retreat with him and I’ve been feeling lately that I need to do it again. (Where on earth does all the stuff come from??!!) Your post provides me with some motivation.

    Happy Holidays and again, thanks so much for your inspiring blog.

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  8. This is a great post, Carrie. Thank you. My 2 year old has only just started sleeping through the night, but he is now waking at 5:30 am. Just this morning, I thought that instead of fighting it, I will embrace it and do my morning yoga practise when he is up. He enjoys doing it with me too, so it can be a special time for us. Reading your post has been a validation for me that this is what we should do.

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