When I started teaching, waking up at 5:20 was the least of my problems. As a matter of fact, there was a list of problems that trumped this one and it was 10+ miles long. But now that I've finally gotten my teaching-groove on, I can honestly say that waking up before the sun is a very difficult aspect of my job. There is just nothing like waking up in the pitch dark only to see a husband and dog pleasantly slumbering and frolicking through dreamland. And as a person who naturally runs cold in almost all seasons and temperatures, leaving the comforts of the duvet is a hard reality that feels slightly impossible to endure when it's only minutes after 5. And if you're thinking I sound dramatic, it's because I am. Drama must happen to be my specialty right before dawn. However, after three years of facing this wake-up time, I'd like to think that I've collected some helpful and easy ways to — at the very least — make its acquaintance.
1. Buy some slippers. Little luxuries can be truly helpful when trying to pump yourself up for the day at hand. For me, that means slippers. My slippers find their home right next to my bed and every morning I'm greeted with their cozy comfort. It's a small victory, but a lovely one.
2. Dedicate five minutes to yourself. Leisurely mornings are my bread and butter, so it was important for me to come up with some way to at least infuse my 5:20 mornings with a bit of goodness. That means that I dedicate the first five minutes of my morning to myself. Typically, that means checking my Instagram feed, but that could occasionally mean spending a little bit of time journaling or writing if the mood strikes (which — in the interest of honesty — isn't often).
3. Tone with witch hazel. Many years ago, my mom let me in on a little secret: witch hazel as toner. It revolutionized my skin care routine and I've used it religiously for the last 4 years. (I use and love this brand.) It is so revitalizing to my skin and gives me a little boost of energy. As an added bonus, it's also great for reducing puffiness around the eyes.
4. Think positive thoughts. While I'm getting ready, I think about my day. I picture it going well. I picture myself being happy, calm, and confident. I hope this doesn't sound too cheesy, but it actually works! I think positive thoughts for my loved ones and try to remain in a peaceful and prayerful state. I ask for strength, patience, and compassion (three really important qualities that I need in my day-to-day job), and imagine myself bestowing those qualities onto others. I know this might sound a little contrived, but it really prepares my heart for the day ahead and helps me shift into a positive, happy mindset.
5. Play some music. After about 10 minutes of quiet reflection, I like to put some music on. I don't always do this and I have to keep it quiet (I share a wall with neighbors and have a sleeping Jeffrey in the bedroom), but I find that it often peps me up quite a bit, especially if I'm feeling extra sluggish!
6. Make breakfast ahead of time. Personally, I know that preparing breakfast in the morning means no breakfast at all, so I make my breakfast the night before. I often make steel-cut oats and follow the recipe that's on the canister for overnight oats (all you have to do in the morning is heat it up on the stovetop). Sometimes, I'll make something like muffins or banana bread for the entire week. Just in case, I always have this on hand. It mixes nicely with almond milk, and is super quick and easy. It took me about a week to get used to the flavor, but now I truly enjoy it! It is my go-to breakfast option and what I typically end up having on a weekday morning.
7. Do something special once a week. Because I do have a difficult time waking up so early, I like to give myself something to look forward to, so once a week I treat myself to Starbucks. This usually comes on Fridays as an end-of-the-week treat, but sometimes I like to stop midweek if it's a particularly trying week.
8. Make a morning playlist for the car. My commute is only about 15 minutes, but that gives me plenty of time to listen to some of my most loved songs. It's an acceptable time to listen to some of my current favorites on repeat and I often listen to my dad's music, which always puts me in a tip-top mood! I actually look forward to my morning drive simply because I get to listen to music and create a calm start to the day.
Truthfully, I think waking up before 6 a.m. will always be a struggle for me. Luckily, I've had plenty of time to realize this about myself and find little ways to make that time in my day slightly more sunshine-y (even if the actual sun is nowhere to be found).
One thing I've learned is that it's truly a luxury to sleep in until 7! Several years ago, I would have found that statement totally absurd, but now it sounds like music to my ears. Once I get going and locked into my routine, 5:20 is really not that terrible, and these eight tried and true tips make it even better! Happy waking!