In my 2018 post entitled Just Start – Waking up for Success! I spoke about how I was attempting to change my daily routine by waking up earlier and ensuring I spent the time on those things most important to me (i.e. novel writing, dearest dreams of the heart, etc.) prior to the demands of the day sweeping what precious little time I had away via the petitions of others people’s whims, i.e. the daily job.
It’s currently 5:08 am as I type this draft and I cannot help but reflect that a lot has changed since I wrote that post. Not only have we moved, but I’ve since packed in working the 9-5 with writing on the side and have taken my freelancing business full time; offering services such as article writing, beta reading, copy editing, and of course my pièce de résistance, being an authors assistant. My health and well being have vastly improved and with every new day, I am a few steps closer to achieving my goal of becoming a published author (I’m not counting ghost-writing and pen names).
My health and circumstances have changed drastically compared to what they were, with the biggest new impact on my life being the birth of my darling boy, Seth.
Being a new Mummy plus a woman with deep-seated ambitions has really woken me up a lot to the need for productivity – but whilst I want to work hard and be successful, I don’t want to compromise or cut into the precious time I have with my son. This is a point I am very adamant about. Family always comes first.
And with the world in such turmoil and chaos at the moment; families driven inside, unable to socialise, businesses and schools closed, you might think that this is the prime time to get a few things knocked off the to-do list and focus on those unfinished dreams, such as blog writing and finishing that pesky book.
You’d be both right and wrong.
This is indeed the prime opportunity for many people who currently are out of work and I highly encourage anyone who has the emotional wherewithal and ability to take the necessary actions towards their personal development, in whatever way they need it. Just go for it. Take this time for yourselves. It’s mandatory and by gosh, don’t we all need some respite, self-care, and reflection once in a while?
The future prosperity of our family is certainly the approach my husband and I are trying to take, as we always attempt to find the positive side to any given situation.
But as I said, we have a new baby and his needs not only must come first but we want them to. We love spending time with him and of course, the natural work of a household has to be up-kept, such as cleaning, cooking, and the currently dreaded food shop. And if you’ve ever had a newborn you will know that even with a spouse (temporarily and government-mandated) at home, it’s one heck of a juggling act on a good day. Just keeping on top of the laundry is a mighty chore and it’s easy to see how new mums yearn for the help of family and friends, babysitters and child care just so they can grab a quick shower or a sandwich on some of their child’s more fussy days.
But I wouldn’t change Seth for the world. He is the light of my life and by far the best thing to happen to either my husband or myself. So what is my point? Why am I up at the crack of drawn writing about writing I did almost two years ago?
The reason – I’m re-entering the 5am Club is because it worked!
Even though I did not have a child back then, I was a housekeeper and with such I was running two households, looking after pets, other people’s children, washing, drying, cooking, etc. and my duties often could extend into my own time. Added to this that I was trying to keep my new founded business afloat on the side whilst studying towards my degree at the same time, you could say my schedule was rather bursting at the seams. When did I have time to blog, create social media content, write for myself, and finish my books? To look after my health, my needs, wants, and dreams? Heck, to even read a magazine?
I didn’t really. And I don’t now.
Tony Robbins says it best;
“It’s never a lack of resources, it’s a lack of resourcefulness.’
– and we are all guilty of the biggest lie of this generation – ‘I don’t have time’.
My social media feeds are always plagued with that proclamation, ‘If only I had the time, I could write a book, it would be better then yours...’ or ‘ I‘d lose weight, but who has the time to work out.‘. ‘The house is always a mess but I work day and night…‘. Excuses, one and all. And unto these people (and myself, of course) I say this – we’re in quarantine, we have the time. We just have to be creative about it, and rather than complaining about the things we can’t control and our current lack of resources (the charity shops are closed, I can’t get DIY supplies, there’s no one to look after the kids) focus instead on what we do have:
We do have the ability to act, in whatever small way, for our future prosperity.
It is our decision to commit to inaction and then complain about not having what we want.
We can get creative with our resources.
We can research, find other people’s methods, and tweak them to our purpose.
We can learn from this experience and grow.
We can endeavor to take each day as it comes, with grace and forgiveness, yet still push ourselves, inch by inch from our comfort zone and still get what we want.
So this is the way I look at it. I have no idea when my husband’s furlough will end, whether he will be expected to jump straight back into work (leaving me to figure out how to balance my day once again with a little one on my own, as it’s frankly been quite lovely having him home and a permanent change we would willingly make) or when the nurseries will open and social distancing end…but during this time, I have a temporary opportunity of a slightly lightened load. My husband is willing (and does) help with the housework, he helps to cook and clean and look after the baby so that I can have that bit more time during the day to get things done between feeding, changing, cuddles and tummy time.
We are a team and that is resource number one. We support each other (he is now also writing a book, which is turning out awesome, so can’t wait to share more on that in future – go hubby!) and we both adore spending time with our little boy. This new arrangement allows for both of us to get one-to-one time with him as well as spending it together as a family, and also maintaining our personal self-care as well.
Speaking of which, resource number two is a beautiful bonny boy who lights up our world like the sun, is well behaved, sleeps through the night, and is thoroughly entertained for some reason when we clean the kitchen (probably because it only lasts five minutes). He is a blessing in more ways than one.
You might think it odd that I am counting my family as resources, and whilst it could be judged as a little cold when looked at from an analytical standpoint, think of it this way – family members are a resource; my husband and my son bring me joy, lend me strength and compassion, support and purpose. For the most part, most of what I do is for them an the betterment of our lives. They are my drive and they help me to believe in myself, to become a better person, day by day.
They are my two main resources; I am using the situation and their behaviors/habits to my advantage. But there are other resources too. such as the fact I worked from home anyway, have a home office, and the ability to self manage. I also don’t mind working through the night if I have to but would rather avoid that at present for obvious baby feeding-related reasons.
A few people have told me to not only give up working with clients during my maternity but to jack writing in all together. A few have even gone so far as to remind me that writing is not a real job and that I would be more financially stable on government-provided benefits whilst I am unemployable (maternity).
But that was never going to happen. I’ve already made it this far, I’m not stopping now.
People will always preach their way of life to you. They will tell you what foods to eat, what clothes to buy, how to raise your kids. Even what cleaning chemicals you should or shouldn’t use. But the thing is, your here to live your life, not theirs. So do it.
I’m done listening to the naysayers who say you can’t have it all. A child, a career, sleep, and success. I don’t believe it one bit. The only possible truth in my future is I may not be able to have it all as quickly as I thought, but that’s okay. If nothing else, this quarantine should have taught us how to be at least a little bit flexible, right? And I would like to believe I can practice what I preach.
So let’s circle back to my resources and how I am using them to my advantage. I’m a planner, obsessively so, and whilst you can’t always bank on your schedule going undisrupted (and frankly it can throw you off when it does) with a newborn, what you can do is learn to adapt, be that little bit savvier with the time you do have and last but not least, be forgiving of yourself if things go wrong – you honestly don’t have to do it all right all the time.
What do I mean by this? Well, it’s simple really. All those new parenting skills we have had to learn, we have honed them. My husband and I can change a nappy, re-dress, and clean up after the baby in under a minute flat. We prep the things we need ahead of time and have learned to read our baby’s cues. We have adapted our routine so that one of us looks after baby whilst the other one gets stuff done to the point now that the day just flows.
And we’ve also cut the unimportant things from our to-do lists.
But the biggest resource, other than having my husband at home to lend a helping hand, is the fact that the baby is sleeping through the night.
Now, most people would just see this as a relief that they no longer have to get up three times a night and then again at the crack of dawn consoling a hungry baby. And whilst that is defiantly a bonus, what it means for me is the re-entering into The 5am Club.
This time of the morning is a fantastic opportunity to get in some uninterrupted creativity. Yes, bills, admin stuff, and editing can still get done during the day but let’s face it, with a newborn my ‘work’ hours are limited at best, so I either need to find a way of increasing my workability (which I’m happy to say my typing speed and ability to get things down on paper is probably as quick as it can be) or increase the time frame with which I have to work.
Seth can often go down for the night between 9-11pm and won’t stir until 7-9am. Even on the lower side, and factoring out sleep and time to pick up the house after a busy day, that still leaves me with a glorious (potential) couple of hours to get in some ‘me’ time and work on my goals….that is of course, if I willingly get up at 5am.
Perhaps the most important thing I have learned since giving birth is how to both be flexible in my approach to things whilst also forgiving myself if they don’t go quite to plan so that I can quickly learn and move one. I think that’s the key, not stopping every time you hit a roadblock and to just keep moving when you can.
Reasons and motivation certainly help too. Mine are very simple at the moment. I love my family. I want to spoil them, make sure we have a nice place to live, food in the cupboards, and eventually places to go, things to do. I want to provide, have financial stability as well as a sense of self-fulfillment and creative purpose. I want to be able to buy my little boy clothes, toys, my husband’s games and tools, myself all the books and stationery. But more than that I want us to have a good life, the one we have shared dreams about.
My new 5am Routine
And when you look at it that way, getting up at 5am to do a little bit of work is hardly an effort.
Whilst I am by no means clamping myself in irons to this new schedule it would be remiss of me not to provide a new template of my time management. However the key to remember here is that it is adaptable, and it probably won’t be maintained every day but so long as it is happening consistently on a regular basis, then progress will be made.
5:00AM GET UP
I have a sunrise alarm clock that fills the room with a brightening light before the buzzer goes off, so as to allow you to wake up naturally and hopefully not also wake up the baby.
PET THE CAT
She’s needy and doesn’t understand why morning cuddles have been interrupted.
Hydration is a major thing for me at the moment as a breastfeeding mum. Not only this but I found it has helped a lot with my migraines.
DO NOT LOOK AT SOCIAL MEDIA OR E-MAIL
This is my time, I’ll not be drawn into the time-vampires lair and get sucked into other peoples wants, requests and problems before 7am, thank you very much.
WRITING – BLOG
Look what I’ve already achieved this morning in just this blog post!
FEED THE CAT
See above, plus hungry feline.
BREAKFAST, NO VITAMINS
Gotta keep your strength up and I found that eating is one of the things I often forgo when my husband is not at home, as it’s too much of a juggling act to prepare a meal for one whilst holding a newborn. So now I make sure to always have a decent breakfast, even if lunch goes out the window.
SELF IMPROVEMENT / PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
I need to be quiet whilst also able to keep an ear out for a stirring baby, so no podcast or YouTube self-help videos at the moment, but it does mean I am able to spend more time reading. I have a host of writing books to get through, which I am rather looking forward to.
SHOWER AND DRESSED
Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I get away without wearing pants. And to anyone with Zoom, you might want to re-think the bathrobe too.
SKINCARE AND BRUSH TEETH
Currently, skin wipes are my friend, but I try to have a facial at least once a week.
The rats have nowhere to go, I cut it all off when I was pregnant.
5 minute tidy up and space re-set, especially the kitchen and living room, as these are the main hives of activity.
ONE LOAD OF WASHING
And repeat as often as needed throughout the day. My washing machine will require early retirement at our current rate of dirty baby clothes.
There is no longer a set time or goal requirement for my novel writing sessions. It’s much more important to have regular, consistent action towards a goal, then large irregular bouts of productivity. So long as I can get a few hundred words done, I am happy.
SET OUT BABY’S THINGS
And by this point time is creeping on and my son will soon be stirring. And I am much too eager for morning smiles and cuddles that by this point I will probably have checked on him a dozen times, just to look at his sweet little face and effectively void all my morning’s productivity.
So there you have it, a glimpse into my new schedule and 5am Club commitment. Only this time I am not making any promise to anyone other than myself. I managed to keep up with the early rises for a month or two last time, but we shall see how we go. My main takeaways from this new attempt are adaptability and consistent, if small, actions.
What has changed for you since lockdown began? Have you found yourself with more or less time? And are you thinking of becoming or are already a member of The 5am Club? I’d love to hear from you and how your world is adapting to the pandemic, so please do leave a comment below.