Thursday, January 8, 2009

Getting up early

Lately, I have been encouraged by post like these and this to get into a habit of consistently getting up early. This is certainly a concept that is found throughout the book of proverbs as well as the entire Bible, but the most famous verse is probably the one in the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, verse 15:

She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

I think getting up early really is a question of self-discipline. It is very tempting to want to stay up late at night to get some quiet time without the kids running around, even if it is just to clean or get caught up on stuff around the house. I am not at all against staying up after the kids are in bed, but let's face it - most moms will be way too tired at this point to really get much housework done.

Personally, we do not have a TV, but families who do may be tempted to just sit in front of it and "veg". Even if they enjoy more wholesome fun such as a craft of board game, they will inevitably be too tired the next day to want to get up early.

Getting up at the same time as your children (or after them) is detrimental for various reasons, some of which are:

- You will be very busy the second you roll out of bed with feeding and dressing the kids. This leaves no time for you to pray and read the Bible by yourself first, get groomed and dressed, have something to eat, and just generally get some alone time to give you the strength needed to make it through a long day of hard work.

- Getting started on dinner preparations will also go out the window, which will have you working that much harder later in the day. It's much easier and faster to throw a meal in the crock pot or get bread dough going when you are working without any little ones around. The time it saves could be used to make a special treat with the kids later in the day.

- Your kids will probably wake each other up, which means that you will have to care for all of them at once rather than one by one as they wake up one after the other. By getting up before them, you could have some one-on-one time with the child who rises first as a reward. In our house, our kids are always very creative at carving out time that they have either me or my husband all to themselves.

- In general, you will get a much later start on your day, and you will be struggling all day long to get even the basics done.

- You are setting a poor example for your son(s), who will one day have to rise early and work hard all day to provide for their own families, and your daughter(s) who will have to work hard at raising a family just like we do every day.

I think that not getting a chance to quietly read and meditate on the Word of God, your spiritual food, is by far the worst of all these disadvantages. It will put your attitude on the wrong path all day long, and you will not be the wife and mother that you should be. A dirty house is one thing, but a grouchy mom that is stretched to her limits and ready to snap at any moment is far worse. I have been guilty of this myself many times, but it's just not a good way to go through life.

Looking at the above verse, it says that the virtuous woman rises "while it is yet night", which in the Bible is technically anytime before 6 AM. Others may interpret it to mean anytime before the sun comes up. I don't think there is a "set" time that God had in mind when he wrote that verse, and I think it is different for every lady.

In my case, our kids usually go to bed around 8 PM, later on church nights. After they are down, I like to "pick up" the house. Then I run the dishes, laundry, and sweep/mop the floors. These are activities that I would not want to do early in the morning because they are loud, and our kids are light sleepers in the morning and would wake up, which would defeat the whole point of me getting up early. At night, however, nothing wakes them up. Also, I like to wake up to a house that looks neat and tidy, even if it is not totally clean, rather than a complete mess that I know I have to get done before the kids wake up.

There are other activities that I do not like doing at night, because I am usually too tired. Some of these are cleaning the bathrooms or folding and putting away laundry. So in my case, I want some alone time at night as well as in the morning. On average, when I am not pregnant, I function well on 6-7 hours of sleep. I have also noticed that if I go to bed early, I will need less sleep and often wake up of my own after 6 hours or less.

My plan the last couple of weeks has been to be in bed by 11 PM and get up between 5 and 5:30. Many times, I wake up on my own before the alarm goes off. I sit in the school room and listen to the Bible on CD while folding laundry. Since this is very monotonous work that doesn't take much thought, it does not distract me from what I am listening to. When I am done with the laundry, I start cleaning, so I switch to my Bible memory index cards because I would be too distracted to keep listening, or just pray while I clean.

As summer draws closer and the days get longer, I want to start getting up a half hour earlier because by 6 AM, it is bright day here, and the kids get up around that time.

The results have really paid off. I have been able to keep up with our daily laundry load (3-4 loads per day, more on Mondays), and I have a much easier time getting a lot of Bible reading done then when I would get up early hit-and-miss. When we went on a trip to California earlier this week, I got up early the first day (after driving half the night and only sleeping 4 hours) so I could go to the store and buy our food for the day rather than getting unhealthy and expensive food at Legoland. The next day was the first day that I have gotten up late recently - I was woken up by my husband at 9 AM after sleeping 12 hours! Him and the boys were in one hotel room, and me and the girls were in another room next door. It was really nice, and because we were not home, there was no housework that got neglected by my sleeping in.

This has been a good goal to work towards, and I would encourage every lady to give it a try.

I will say, though, that I would not be getting up this early if I were pregnant. When I am pregnant, I need 10-12 hours of sleep in any 24 hour period, especially during the first few months. If I get less, or get up early, I get violently ill, which I hate. There are different seasons in every mom's life, and right now I am bursting with energy because I just had a baby. I am sure that once I get pregnant again in a year or so things will slow down for 9 months, and that's good, too.


  1. I too get up earlier than the kids and it helps for sure!! You sound like you get tons done:)
    Just a quick question cause I know you also cue feed (breastfeeding). Do you ever have cranky babies? Mine is super clingy for a long time now and she wants to suck but is full. The cue I'm getting from her is she wants comfort but not the food that comes with it. She sucks her thumb but would rather suck on me!! Which is a problem cause you know.....there is tons of milk in there. I'm thinking to perhaps cut back on nursing a bit or something. ever had this situation?

  2. Wow! God sure had something to say to me today!
    This is something I need to be doing, but have put off for far too long. I guess I have some praying and thinking to do.

  3. Great Post!!! This is a huge encouragement to me. It's funny that we were just talking about this earlier, I should have just read your blog first! :)

  4. Tereza,

    I answered your question on your blog, but I want to post it here as well in case other people were wondering the same thing. I copied and pasted the response below.


    I am glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for the comment!


    if you had read my blog first, I wouldn't have had a chance to talk to you though! Seeing that you never call and all... just joking! :) I'm glad you were encouraged by it. Hang in there, it only gets easier as you have more babies, really!

    Here is the copied response to Tereza:

    Hi Tereza,

    I was commenting on here to answer the question you had asked me on my blog about cranky babies. I only have a few minutes to write so I didn't read other comments above, and something I say may have already been suggested.

    To answer your question, yes, a couple of our babies have been cranky. The one that most stands out was our fourth child (first daughter, Miriam), who had what is often called "colic". Up until that time, I thought colic was just made up and really just came down to people not knowing how to comfort their baby with carrying, nursing, singing etc. We tried everything, and she would SCREAM every night for hours. The only thing that kept her half-happy was being carried and bounced, so hubby and I would take turns with her every 30 minutes. It was literally torture!!! Our oldest was also a cranky/high needs baby, but that may have been more due to my inexperience.

    Anyway, for what it's worth, here is what I have learned, in nor particular order:

    - Kids have different temperaments. Miriam is still a very strong willed child (though sweet as can be!).

    - Miriam would also nurse for comfort, but get way too much food that way, which would make her spit up. There could also be an issue if you only feed your baby for a couple of minutes at a time, then she gets bored with it, moves on to something else, only to come back for another snack a little later - she could get too much foremilk that way, which makes babies gassy. You could keep offering the same "side" for several short sessions like that, rather than switching off.

    - I finally gave Miriam a pacifier for comfort so she would stop overeating and getting sick, even though I am generally not in favor of them.

    - There has been new research lately that colic is caused by a lack of friendly bacteria in the baby's gut, which makes them gassy and uncomfortable, so they fuss. I started giving Miriam baby probiotics, and she certainly improved.

    - Some babies also get bothered by a lot of noise/commotion/light at the end of the day. Since there are 11 people in your family, that might be a factor. With Miriam, the house had to be dark and quiet by 7 PM, sometimes earlier.

    - You mentioned that you have been losing a lot of weight, and eating very healthy. Your body may be in a detox mode, which can give your baby headaches. Usually, you would have headaches, too, if this is the case (may be very mild).

    - Yeast/thrush in the baby's mouth or on their skin can be easily undetected, but it also makes a baby fussy. Again, the probiotic would take care of that. I don't think this is the case with you since it seems you do not eat unrefined carbs a whole lot.

    Anyway, those are just some things that our kids had issues with. Hang in there, you are doing great! Just do whatever it takes to get through this - you are a great mom!

  5. Hi There,

    First time comment but have been reading your blog for awhile. Although we are totally different types of parents, from different sides of the world, I was just wondering regarding your comment about your girls getting up early for their own families ..would you be supportive of your girls should they decide one day to become independant career woman instead of staying home to raise a family??? prehaps deciding not to have children at all??

    Just wondering and come in peace!!

  6. Hi Zsuzsanna,

    Just wanted to thank you and Steven for providing such wonderful learning and encouragement for us over the net. Thank you for your latest post on rising early. I would love to hear more specifics of how you ménage your day with your children and homeschooling. Our eldest is 9 and youngest 9months with three in between. I am so eager to learn more as we also are homeschooling. It’s really few and far between to find someone who I think I could learn and grew from in the area of serving my Lord while serving my family.

  7. Great post. Getting to sleep early the night before is the hardest part for me.

  8. Hi! I read your blog and haven't left a comment but just wanted you to know you have a beautiful family and this post was right on! I know the Lord wanted me to read this today, so thank you for being faithful and posting it! Bless you and your family.

  9. thank you so much for sharing this. For one, it confirmed something that I have been fairly convinced of anyways, but it also helped to assuage some of the self-disatisfaction I have lately. Being joyously pregnant for the third time, I feel like I can hardly keep up with anything right now- let along getting up before my little early birds.
    I have cut all of my unneccesary "responsibilities" so that my focus is my God and my family, completely. Still, I feel like I am struggling to be the kind of mother and homekeeper that I want to be. BUT you just reminded me that this too is a season that will pass. Soon, I will have more energy, and a new little baby to wear around while I get my chores done. if that means that I am not 100% on top of my chores for a few months, I think it will be more than worth it :o)
    Thanks for he encouragement!

  10. sara h, I will answer your question in an upcoming Q&A.

    Jodie, thank you for commenting. I love getting positive feedback and knowing that someone benefited from my eclectic musings. I will answer your question in an upcoming Q&A.

    CunninghamRules!, thank you for your kind words.

    Heather, thank you, and take it easy on yourself. I am the biggest slacker in the world when I am pregnant because I need about twice as much sleep as when I am not. There will always be chores, but babies are only little for a short time.

  11. Hi Zsuzsanna,
    thank you so much for your post. I've read quite a few blogs about getting up early and am starting to really be convinced it is something I should be applying as well. I really liked getting specific reasons as to why this is good, especially the one about the QUALITY of the time. I've always thought of myself as a night owl as I seem to think I function better at night... but really, I do end up vegging in front of the TV and funny thing is that this has gotten worse since I've been married, cause now we both "veg". I also always thought that it was my "only" time alone to get stuff done, even though it isn't as productive cuase I am tired by then. Makes sense that my BEST time alone would be right after a long night of sleep. I had never thought of that.
    Anyhoo, thank you for your post, very encouraging. Mind if I link on my blog?
    P.S.: I bought the Coconut Oil you suggested. I like it so far... my hands are still rough, but I really like it for my cuticles... Mind you it's only been 3 days. I am also trying to simply increase my water intake, I am so bad at that, it's horrible.
    Thanks again

  12. Hi Zsuzsanna
    I'm just wondering if you use Proverbs 31 :10-31 and apply it literally verse by verse to your life or use Principles as found at sites such as
    Am very interested in your response.
    Narelle from Australia


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