Waking up with kids never seems to go right. I get pulled out by one arm with one eye closed. I made some changes for a better morning with seven steps. Now I’m a happy mom.

Before I implemented some new strategies, my mornings were jump-started with rambunctious toddlers flinging sippy cups in my face. I’d hide under the covers, hoping they’d miraculously go back to sleep. Then, I’d chug my coffee directly from the pot while frantically trying to catch up with my little ones. See, I’m a late-night person. I love the quiet hours after bed time, when there is peace and no interruptions.

Prior to my new habits, I’d be just coming out of my sleep coma as I slid half-burnt toast to my zippy and happy children. Now, I have some new habits that have really helped me win the morning race. Here’s what I do, and I hope it helps every parent out there who likes to stay up late, but gets dragged out of bed by their eager babies.

Step One: Set Alarm: I know, I know. Not the best news you wanted to read, BUT one thing I know is my children are always up around the same time, 7 am. I can basically count on it. Set your alarm for 10–15 minutes prior. If I can get up, grab a couple gulps of coffee and merely be upright before mine are awake, I’m partly ahead of the game! Think of this as war. Its a war for sanity, and you need to win. Make yourself emerge from the bed just a little before your children normally wake up, and you will feel loads better when they do.

Step Two: 5 Minute Countdown: 5 minutes before you get in bed, or start doing whatever you like to do for your personal free-time, get things ready for the morning. When you become parents, its amazing what you can get done in 5 minutes. When I think of everything I need to do, I get overwhelmed, and I don’t do it. When I tell myself to do as much as I can in 5 minutes, I become a rock star. For me, I like to wake up with the kitchen clean, my coffee mug ready and toys cleared. This is what I do for 5 minutes. I get the dishes out of the sink, counters wiped off, clutter hidden and toys in bins. This helps my mornings tremendously, and I wake up feeling much more energized.

Step Three: Look At Your Phone First Thing: I know this sounds odd, but it helps me wake up by checking some news, Facebook or reading some scripture. It gets my mind working and thinking. If you have some morning reading you can do to help encourage your mind into a quiet peace, do it. My phone has all my email, social media, news and spiritual reading on it, as well as my alarm, so its a natural move for me. This also helps me to feel less tempted to “see what happened in the world” while my children are running circles around me. Just take a minute to skim your reading list, so you can move forward feeling more like an adult, rather than childcare provider.

Step Four: Drink a Glass of Water: I know this sounds so simple, yet so many people skip this step in the morning. They sip their coffee, forgetting that you actually use a lot of water in your sleep, and your body needs it first thing. David Wolfe gives you five reasons to drink water first thing in the morning, and its worth reading to help you remember this important piece of your new morning routing. In a nutshell, water increases the flow of oxygen to your blood and muscles, and that’s one of the most basic steps to getting energy.

Step Five: Stretch and Move: I never used to move much in the morning. I liked to catch up on emails or hop on my lap top quick to take care of a few things before the day flew by. Now, I spend a few minutes, maybe 5–7 stretching and doing some light moving. I wrestle with my kids a little, maybe chase them around and do some lunges or squats around the house in my slippers and pajamas. It’s not really what I want to do, but it provides a tremendous amount of energy when you do this. Do you know how many experts tell us to move and stretch first thing in the morning? I finally decided to make myself do it, and I am so glad I did. If you don’t totally believe me, read this article, The All Day Energy Tips That Will Change Your Life by Pop Sugar.

Step Six: Tell Your Children A Story: This is a good one. Sitting with my coffee and interacting with my children in a way that keeps them still allows me to gather myself and manage their energy. My boys like to hear stories. They behave and play better, after I’ve spent some time directly interacting with them. Previously, I would putter around picking things up, aimlessly wondering from room to room keeping disasters and wild monkey-children at bay. Now, I structure this time to give them the attention they crave. If your children aren’t fans of story time or books, try playing a simple game like stacking blocks or coloring. The goal is to manage their early morning energy into something productive, which actually calms them down, so you can catch up.

Step Seven: Repeat Every Morning. We all know kids have no clue what a weekend is. They think everyday is as exciting as Friday, so as parents, we need to keep our routine. A routine really helps get your body get into a rhythm, so you’re ready to wake up before your alarm goes off. When that happens, you know you’re doing something right.

These seven steps have really improved my mornings. I’m not perfect, and some mornings I get the covers ripped away from me too early, or I jump out of bed to the sound of kids running and jumping on couches. But, I have found that more mornings than not, I’ve been able to start out with more energy than all three of my boys combined, which is a huge win in my book.

Originally published at joyfulmesses.com on January 23, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com