For most of the last decade, my wakeup routine has looked something like this…
Every morning, my alarm jangles by 6:30, unpleasantly jarring me from deep slumber. I stumble groggily to the sink, drink a glass of water to wash my vitamins down, and tiptoe to the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot. The kids hear me and wander in, blinking from the glare.
I click snooze and roll over, drifting until my snuggle bugs tumble in for hugs and kisses, dragging ragged stuffed ducky and bear. My precious bundles of sleepy mumbles and leftover dreams, sporting sweet childish morning breath and crazy hair. They aren’t so little anymore, but traces of the babies they used to be are most evident when they come seeking mama’s comfortable presence before the day begins. They burrow down next to me and fall back asleep, or squabble over who’s getting more of mommy and whether I’m equally accessible between them.
There’s only one difficult thing about this sweet scenario… it’s practically impossible to commune in meaningful solitude with God when you’re wedged between two 60-pound snugglers.
Especially when you’re deep, bone-weary, mama-level tired.
Staying up late to get it all done after the kids go to bed, tired.
Burning the candle at both ends just to make ends meet, tired.
Maybe some of you mamas out there have got it figured out better than me, but I’ve never managed to make it work.
So I stopped using my alarm to wake up.
I could resign myself that this season, this chapter of small children and single motherhood and “doing it all — alone,” means I simply won’t get much time alone with God. I could accept that it’s not fair to demand such early mornings of myself, that it’s not humanly possible.
To me, carving out space for reflection and inspiration is a HUGE part of owning my values and leading wisely. I actually really do want early morning solitude. I feel empty without it.
I long to trade places with my kids and be the child once a day. To be a trusting, sleepy supplicant snuggling up to my powerful Divine parent for reassurance, for comfort, for emotional recalibration before the day begins.
Which actually started to happen… when I turned off my alarm clock.
Which sounds counter-intuitive, I know…
When I’m ready to fall asleep, my entire adult tendency has been to lie awake replaying all possible future worst case scenarios, mentally calculating all possible bill-to-income ratios, and succumbing to my unbeloved friend, Insomnia…
The last few months, I’ve tried a different approach. When I’m ready to go to sleep, I turn on my YouVersion bible app, set the timer for 30 minutes, and choose a psalm. I like the voice of the guy who reads the NLT version.
I’m usually knocked out peacefully in five minutes flat.
If I’m feeling like music, I’ll turn on a half hour playlist of Scripture Lullabies. They leave me feeling encouraged and comforted, instead of falling asleep stressed.
And before I drift off, I’ve started asking God to please wake me up in time to spend quality moments with Him. Snuggle time with my parent, if you will. Divine reassurance that, just like my kids can trust me to look out for their best and protect them and provide for their needs — I can trust Him to protect us and provide for us and fight our battles in Hs strength.
You know what’s crazy?
I can’t sleep in anymore.
Every morning, between 4:30 and 5:15, I’m wide awake. Mentally alert enough to pray and listen for God’s voice. Energetic enough to crawl out of bed and go into my living room and curl up in my easy chair with my journal and Bible and devotionals.
With my alarm clock, that never happened.
The kids still come snuggle when they wake, and we read storybooks in the big chair and pray together before the day begins. But instead of feeling they are stealing my time with God, it now feels like they are joining me in His presence — because I’ve already had that personal space to fill up my heart with my heavenly daddy.
It’s a step in trust. And who are we kidding, trust is kinda hard for us humans…
I’ve had a lot of trust broken over the years… Discovering adultery in your marriage will do that to you. Knowing you and your kids have been traded for addiction tends to only compound the trust barriers if you allow it.
But God is amazing at tearing down barriers.
He’s phenomenal at rebuilding bridges to the heart.
If I say I trust Him to guide my life, to protect my family from danger, to provide our essential needs – couldn’t I trust Him to wake me whenever He knows I need to get up each day?
For me… it works. I find that each new day I’m not only waking more well-rested, I’m also trusting more.
That’s a such good feeling.
Sarah McDugal is a branding strategist, leadership speaker and published author. She’s also a homeschooling single mom who never has enough time to do #allthethings, and sometimes leaves dirty dishes in the sink longer than she probably should.
Buy Sarah’s book here: ONE FACE: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely.
Join 365 Days to #live1face here, for February’s growth challenge: #LoveWell.