Morning by morning: What success before breakfast really means

What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast paperbackMornings are a madcap time in many households, I wrote in the opening lines of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (out in print Tuesday August 27!). Like mine. 

Last Friday started promisingly. I woke up — sans alarm — at 6:15. None of my kids were up yet. This is a relatively new development in my life, that I might wake up before my children without severe sleep deprivation, and I’m savoring having more control over how my mornings start. I lay there thinking about things for a while. Life, the universe, everything. I got up at 7, and made a few notes on book promotion, at which point I heard my 22-month-old daughter. I went upstairs and got her. We went back to my bedroom to say hello to Daddy, who had just showered and gotten dressed. As we were talking to him, our 3-year-old came in. Since he’s normally the one who sleeps late, we remarked upon this and got the bright idea of all going to wake up the 6-year-old (normally, the first one up).

So we all bounded over and jumped in his bed. He didn’t react well to this. He has trouble with accepting things he didn’t expect (trust me, I know where he gets this from), and so he howled “My bed!” He kicked his brother. I expressed some surprise — we were just trying to have fun! — and disappointment in the kicking. Then my husband carried the 3-year-old and I carried the toddler downstairs to get their cereal.

That’s when the real howling started. My husband went back up to see what the 6-year-old’s problem was. My son insisted that he needed to talk to Mommy. When I came back up, he was crying huge tears, sobbing into his pillow, and said “I really did want you all to be in my bed with me!” I explained that now his brother and sister were eating breakfast, and he started crying louder. He continued crying and screaming through breakfast, lamenting that he would never have this opportunity again, until finally we did go back up to his room after breakfast and lay back down in his bed. But then, “No this isn’t right — this time I’m not surprised!”

Oh, the drama. By the time I left to go for my run (at 8:15 — 2 hours after I’d woken up) I was emotionally spent. And we weren’t even trying to get the kids dressed to go anywhere. That fun will start in another week.

But even on tough mornings, there are ways to keep trying to make the most of these hours. There are moments to celebrate, too. I enjoyed thinking through my day before it happened, given what a day it was going to be (it ended in a hotel room in New York at 2 a.m. — but that was yesterday’s post). I think it’s worth it to attempt silly moments as a family, even if some family temperaments are a bit on the fragile side. And we did eat breakfast as a family — important, since my husband and I were going to be gone that night — even if there was a lot of screaming during the breakfast. Inch by inch, you eke out the victories you can.

The good thing about mornings is that the next day always brings another chance to get it right. Morning by morning you get a chance to try again. What success before breakfast means is waking up relishing the possibilities of the new day, whatever messes happened on days before. These first hours are hopeful hours. Sometimes the hours don’t transpire quite as you pictured them, but then there’s always tomorrow — or maybe the day after that.

In other news: My book, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, is out Tuesday! This book compiles my three bestselling short ebooks into one volume, and also contains new bonus material: several time makeovers and dozens of time management tips. If you’ve read the ebooks, thank you — and please consider buying the paperback as a gift to a friend, or as a gift to yourself. I still think it’s fun to hold books in my hand!

14 thoughts on “Morning by morning: What success before breakfast really means

  1. Drama. Oh, yes. We know about that here. 🙂

    I woke up this morning without an alarm at 5 and immediately began working and brainstorming topics for another ebook.

    1. @Carrie – wow. I wish I could wake up at 5! I’m looking forward to seeing the ebook that results from your turbo-productivity.

      1. I finished the first and it’s selling well. Finished the second and waiting for the cover graphic from the designer to launch it. Working on a third!

        My goal is to have 10 ebooks in the Amazon marketplace this year. The first 3 were easy because I had mostly written all the content, I just had to edit and tweak it.

  2. the AM sounds so relaxed, even with the meltdown! and i know what you mean about hopeful. i really miss the days i used to get up early and write and have some time to myself. i’d have to get up at 4 for that to happen now and still run! (not happening).

    then again, i am commenting on this post after a sweaty treadmill run finished before 6. so i guess i can’t complain too much . . . 🙂

    1. @sarah – nice work getting the run in by 6! I had some major insomnia last night so the morning run didn’t happen. Sigh. There’s always tomorrow.

  3. My baby girl is on a growth spurt, so not so much with the well-rested for me. I’d be back asleep except …. gotta get the kids to school and me to my 8am meeting…
    Just returned Quiet to the library. I think another difference between people who don’t want to do these planned social activities is introversion vs. extroversion. Yes yes, I know the planning can include a run all by your lonesome, if you like that sort of thing. But groggily lazing around in bed with the laptop while DH uses the bathroom always seems like it doesn’t count.

    1. @nicoleandmaggie – I’d definitely fall on the introversion side of the spectrum. But I guess since I spend so much time alone while working, and have no real reason to leave the house, I need to plan if I want to see other people at all.

      1. I’m an introvert, and I don’t think making plans (many of which, in my case, involve myself or my family) is an I vs. E issue. I think WAH v. WOH is actually the primary issue. (I’m convinced it’s why the Sunday evening party works so well for Laura). I took two lengthy maternity leaves, and each time I really needed planned activity on the weekend or just the feeling of getting out of the house. By contrast, now when I work outside the house, by Thursday I really start to miss lazy time in my house and by Friday I am pretty desparate for it.

        If we are talking Myers-Briggs, I think the difference in making plans might be P v. J, though I am not convinced of that either.

        My DH (who is also an introvert, though less than I am) and I make plans most weekends. And every 4th weekend or so, we purposely keep to ourselves, just take the kids to the park/their activities, do chores, putter, etc.

  4. my 22-month old is still extremely unpredictable with the wake-ups (4:30! 5:15! 6:30, no just kidding 4:45 the next day!) and he’s been sick lately which means more like 1:30, 2:30, 3:30-5, etc…
    And I so feel you on the “emotionally spent by 8:15”. But yes, we do a lot of our “family time” in the morning—sometimes we take the early riser and the dog to the park, or I’ll take my 3-year old with me while I run and he scooters (he’s really fast!); breakfast is generally much less scream-y than dinner, and we can usually even fit some reading in.

  5. Really loved the recent interview in your twitter feed. I’m not sure there is anything that really compels me out of bed (like, ever). Often, I am happy (or happy enough) once I get going, but given the choice between more sleep or anything else, I always pick more sleep. Not really sure how to fix that.

    1. I can’t find the exact quote now, but I am responding to something you said to the effect of — maybe you can’t wake up early because the item on the to-do isn’t compelling enough. That really resonated with me. Problem is, the item is compelling later in the day, just not at 5 a.m.

      1. @WG – I’ve been thinking about this myself. I feel more sluggish in the AM, and I know running then is good but it feels less compelling. Sometimes I remind myself that I’ll feel much better about 5 minutes in. But there’s probably something that would be compelling at 6, if not 5… (I agree that nothing is compelling at 5)

  6. I love this story – my 3 year is exactly the same if something doesn’t pan out exactly how he’s planned it in his head. We’re trying not to indulge his every whim to go back and do something again but sometimes it’s just easier if he’s tired and grumpy.
    When he’s been allowed to wake up in his own time breakfast is a good time in our house – it’s the one meal he’ll just sit and eat without getting up and down and making a fuss. And it’s a nice time to chat and talk about the day ahead. It’s the other end of the day that is challenging here (and elsewhere I’m sure), but I’m trying to be more imaginative and make more of an effort to actually do something when I finish work and we get home from childcare. Last week we made breadsticks, played with cars and played tennis in the garden but all ideas welcome!

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