Everyone loves a good productivity book but can 5 am wake-ups really change your life? Robin Sharma’s book the 5am Club is based on research around how the most successful people being their days by rising early, “Beethoven rose at dawn” and he lists numerous others – John Grisham, Wolfgang Mozart, Georgia O’Keefe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemmingway who attribute much of their talent to waking before dawn.
Today Sharma has a cult following of entrepreneurs and influencers claiming 5am wake-ups as the ultimate life hack. According to Sharma, humanity is becoming so time-starved we rarely have time for self-development reflection and time alone which creates stress and tension. Early wake-ups help our bodies recharge physically, gain inner peace, set goals and silence the busy mind.
But can it work for busy parents?
If you’re a parent, the phrases ‘inner peace’ and ‘quieting the busy mind’ are so foreign we imagine only single people achieving this. In case anyone missed the memo…inner peace and parenthood sometimes don’t go hand in hand. Mom life is busy, frenzied, full of random surprises that force you to wonder why you thought parenting was a good idea. Being a mom means we organize schedules in advance, juggle multiple roles and maintain flexible approaches to everything because with kids anything can change in a split second.
But could waking up at 5am alleviate some of my stress? I was willing to give it a go.
And here’s what the first two days looked like…
I awoke to hear my alarm going off in the middle of the night. Oh wait no it was actually 4:45am (the recommended wake-up time).
After hauling myself out of bed I went to the loo and raced downstairs to do my HIT (High-intensity cardio) exercises, only to discover my body didn’t actually want to move. I forced a leg up, then another then lay down again.
After 10 minutes my body decided to kick into gear and I found myself moving to some kind of slow rhythm resembling a commercial for retirement exercise. Somehow this didn’t feel as exhilarating as the book described and I felt like my insides were dying from poison. Yes, morning exercise at 4:45am feels like impending death.
Next came the 20 minutes meant for my soul.
Things were tranquil until my child appeared naked in the shadows of the living room.
‘Mommy I’m scared and cold.’
I took her upstairs and laid down patting her for about ten minutes while resisting the urge to fall asleep again. Maybe I could call this my almost 20 minutes of soul-searching time?
My final 20 minutes (what was left of it) went toward reading. I have to say there was something serene about reading in complete silence after a dopamine-fueling workout, I felt euphoric, like my mind was clear and focused to do anything. This is what Sharma claims is the trans-hypermobility mode of our brain where we remain focused and undistracted by technology or competing demands.
Day two was no walk in the park. I jumped on the treadmill and instantly regretted that idea, except I jumped off feeling amazing. I cannot emphasize the clarity of mind after a good HIT workout and I meditated with such clarity for ten minutes. I then devoted the remainder of my time to reading and self-reflective journaling.
With time to spare before the kids got up, I cleaned the kitchen, put on a load of washing and prepared myself a mouth-watering breakfast.
Life was serene until my zen time ended and the realities of parenting kicked in. Child 1 refused to get out of bed kicking everyone in sight who dared approach. In my positive Mary Poppins mood I pulled the sheets off and dragged him out of bed singing a happy ol’ tune.
Eventually, the Crood decided to get out of bed and dress himself. Much nagging. Much dragging clothes.
During breakfast child 2 stole part of child 1’s breakfast which began world-war two. Child 1 grabbed child 2 in a headlock where I happily tore them apart and sat as temporary security for the remainder of their breakfast. I guess if I were single with no kids I could be continuing my self-development reading, but instead fate had promoted me to a hash brown feud.
After day three, one thing was becoming clear to me. I was snapping at my kids less in the morning because I felt more in control. Everything was double-checked: breakfast, school bags, lunches, uniforms, school trip activities. If there was one word to describe me it would be: calm. Yes, I felt calmer than ever. I felt more in control of my day and extremely optimistic about what I could achieve.
Sharma claims that by waking up early and prioritizing our health our brains are clearer and more adept at managing stress. I was also more productive pumping out more emails and writing articles faster. My ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand was astounding.
Could I do it long-term? Probably not. The downside of waking at 5am is saying goodbye to any social life. By 8pm you’re getting ready for bed and even having a phone call with a friend feels exhausting. So is completing an evening hobby or outing. None of it is possible unless you can survive on five hours of sleep.
For me, it’s far more effective to do the 5am habit during the week and relax over the weekend. As Sharma says you make it work for you.
Once thing is for sure – the 5am Club doesn’t work for everyone.