(Note: this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may receive compensation for purchases made through this link)
As a Christian mom, I often hear this question presented to more mature Christian women: “How can I make time for God during this season with little kids?” And often the woman asked give what seems like the most logical response: “Just get up before they do.” And that advice makes complete sense because logic says the kids aren’t awake yet so you have time to get a little reading and prayer in.
And so, when I began running into the problem of not having enough “quiet time” with the Lord, I started taking the initial steps to following this sound advice from women who have walked this road before.
Why it didn’t work
Like anyone, I set my alarm. I thought “Okay, the kids will be up around 7:00 so I’ll set it for 6:30, giving me thirty minutes if quiet time.” At first this seemed to work. But then one day, my oldest started waking at 6:45. Well, fifteen minutes by myself just wasn’t enough time, so I bumped my alarm clock back to 6:15. And when he started waking at 6:30, I tried bumping it back another fifteen to thirty minutes more. Before I knew it, my alarm was set for 5:30 and Paul M would come walking down the hall at 5:45, sometimes even before my alarm went off.
I was so frustrated. How was I supposed to have my quiet time when he kept waking so early? I couldn’t read in my bedroom because the hubby needed to sleep. And I couldn’t use our spare bedroom/office because our youngest, who was still a little baby when this all began, was using it as his room.
I tried EVERYTHING
So, sleep deprived and frustrated, I did the only thing I knew to do. Consult Pinterest and my Facebook friends. I was given some great advice on how to get my son to sleep later.
- Feed him. This made total sense. Maybe he was waking up because he was hungry. So I tried giving him a snack or a glass of milk before going to bed. All this did was make dinner harder because he knew, even if he didn’t eat, there would be a snack later.
- Altering the nap schedule. He was only taking one nap in the afternoon but I thought maybe it was a little long. So I tried shortening it. And when that didn’t work I tried removing the nap altogether. But doing so meant I had to give up my nap and only made him cranky by the time dinner rolled around. But still, he was waking early.
- Early Bedtime for me. I avoided this option like the plague because I need those couple of hours before my bedtime to myself as I have no energy, physically or emotionally to deal with anything. But I was desperate, so I gave it a shot. It did nothing but made him unbearably cranky the next morning, which still began at the same unbelievably early hour.
- A clock. Finally, I came to the suggestion of getting a ‘ready to wake clock‘. My facebook friends, pinterest research, and even a podcast host I listen, to all spoke very highly of the clock and said it took a little training but once the kid caught on, it worked like a dream. So, I asked if someone could loan one out to me so I could try without being out $20. I’m so glad I went that route because after a month I was still spending all of my “quiet time” sending my son back to his room because his clock hadn’t changed yet. Needless to say, I was still just as frustrated, if not more so, than when I started. (Disclaimer: many people have had great success with this ready to wake clock. It just didn’t work for my child.)
***Although these ideas didn’t work for me, they might be the solution to the early riser in your home.
The Freedom in Giving up
After so much trial and error I began to look at any other options I had. Because by now, it wasn’t even about “quiet time” but about the fact that neither of us were getting enough sleep. My only other option was to try and get myself to bed earlier. I fought this for so long because I loved those quiet hours of the evening where I didn’t have to think about anyone else’s needs but my own. Also because I knew that once it became a habit, I would be too tired for Paul S. on his days off work.
But then I asked myself these questions: Does my staying up late serve my family? Does it make me a better mom and wife? Was I really caring for my needs? The short answer to all of these was a big NO. I was so tired in the morning that I had no ability to control my temper making me an angry mom pretty much all the time. I was depriving myself of sleep in the name of mental self-care but was forgetting that physical self-care was just as important. So finally, after what felt like a long battle of wills, I gave up, and it was the best thing I ever did. Now I was free to find ways to make the most of these early, EARLY mornings.
What I gained from giving up
One of the biggest things that had to change was this idea of “quiet time”. In fact, I don’t even use that term anymore. As with all things as an aircraft mechanic’s wife, I’ve had to learn to be flexible. This meant learning how to have Bible time at the kitchen table with Bob the Builder playing in the background. It meant that prayer time became a letter writing session to God. It also means I’ve been given the chance to live out my faith in front of my children, and to set an example of what pursuing God can look like.
My richest gain
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I might gain Christ,
When Paul penned these words, he was probably not thinking about a mother giving up on getting her child to sleep in longer. But when I look back on those mornings, it’s clear that this passage can apply. I see giving up was the best thing I could have done. By counting the “early morning battle” as loss, I realize I was finally able to focus on actually spending time with God. Even though I lost something I valued highly, I gained the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
So, what about you? Is there something that’s keeping you from your ideal time with the Lord? How long have you been working to make that thing fall into place? Maybe it’s time for you to give up whatever it is that’s holding you back and just meet with God in the circumstances you’re in. Maybe you need to count it as loss for the sake of knowing Christ more.