Nimble Fumblings of a Mom, Wife, and Quirky Creative

Wake Training Boot Camp for Grownups

“It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the mooooooorning!”

 That’s my wake-up song for the kids. Pure lyrical genius, I know.

I dance into their room, throw open the curtains and gleefully tickle two grumbling piles of Avengers blankets. It totally annoys them. But I’m actually a little jealous.

I wish somebody would come sweeping into my room to pull my ass out of bed in the morning – and by “somebody,” I mean a person other than my husband, like a personal trainer. If Hub tried to do it I would physically assault him.

But alas, I’m on my own. I’ve found there are lots of resources out there on how to Sleep Train a Baby (not that I used those resources when I should have… my minions are terrible sleepers), but not so many helpful resources out there on how to become an “early riser” as an adult. Basically, I think we’re just supposed to have the will power to pop out of our warm, cozy bed when the alarm goes off before dawn. Who does that?

Well, my husband does.  When Billy was in the Navy in Norfolk, VA, he had to leave our apartment at 5am to get to base on time. His alarm would go off at 4 and he would pop out of bed and blast a Frank Sinatra playlist while he cooked himself a hot breakfast. It was disgusting. You know why? Because he’s one of those people who just has the will power to do stuff like that. Yuck.

Me on the other hand, not so much will power in my tank. I need more push. More pull.

So I came up with this real-life, no BS Boot Camp for waking up early.  The strategies you’ll read below are exactly how I taught myself to start my day before sunrise.  It’s also the only reason this blog is back in action.  These wee morning hours are the only time I’m able to focus on writing without a slew of distractions.  It is currently 5:27a.m. on Saturday morning as I’m typing this. The rest of my family is still a-snooze, including the two dogs sitting next to me on the couch who keep huffing in aggravation because I’m disturbing their peace. Lazy daisies.

This blog is a volunteer effort. There’s no whip being cracked at me to be awake right now. And yet, here I am. Bright-eyed and bushy pony-tailed, drinking my coffee in my fluffy, pink robe.

It wasn’t an easy habit to form, but now this is my favorite time of day.  Do you want to wake up earlier?  If so, read on…

Step 1: What’s Your Worm?

“The early bird gets the worm.” You know the saying. Metaphorically speaking, my worm is my me time. Like I said, my family is still sleeping right now. The house is quiet. I finished a whole cup of coffee before it got cold. I’m spending uninterrupted time doing something I enjoy. These early hours may be the only time I have completely to myself for the rest of the day…and that is extremely valuable to me.

So if you want to start waking up earlier, you need to wrap your head around WHY you want to make the change. How is it going to benefit you?   What would make it valuable to you? Some examples…

  • Want lose weight? You have to eat right! Give yourself extra time in the morning to prepare and portion food for the day.
  • Want to boost your mood and/or sculpt your body? You have to exercise! Use the golden hours of the morning to knock out your workout before the day gives you excuses.
  • Want to strengthen your marriage? Enjoy spending time with your spouse while you are both well rested and stress from the day hasn’t set in yet.
  • Want to have more confidence? When you look good you feel good, so spend a little extra time putting yourself together.

There are lots of other reasons to get out of bed. Know what you want. Wake up and get it.

Okay, I realize this first one bares a resemblance to the whole will power thing, but you have to start here and then move on to my next tips.

Step 2: Go to Bed Earlier

You had to know this one was coming. SLEEP IS ESSENTIAL to life. So don’t skimp. I won’t go deep into this topic now because it will be a resounding theme on this site, but just know it’s an important part of your Wake Training.

Step 3: Anticipate Sabotage

 I told you this is a no BS list. In real life, your good intentions will be thwarted. It’s almost guaranteed. The first morning you set your alarm to wake up early, you’ll have insomnia or your kid will get the stomach flu. Expect it before it happens. Know your resolve. Roll with the punches. Just keeping trying to make it work. Eventually the sabotage will end and you’ll be able to get into a groove.

Step 4: Be Assaulted By Your Alarm

 This is Wake Training Boot Camp, Sunshine. At first it’s gonna suck. A gentle alarm makes it way too easy to just slip back into slumber. Don’t be a snowflake. We mean business here. It’s time to WAKE UP! Set an alarm that is going to jolt you out of bed. Here’s my Alarm Assault criteria:

  • Make it LOUD – as many decibels as possible.
  • Make it OBNOXIOUS – jingly wind chime noises ain’t gonna cut it. Find a sound that you can’t stand. Maybe an air horn? You have to be desperate to make the noise stop.
  • Set it FAR AWAY from your bed – Your feet have to hit the floor. You have to be erected into a vertical position. You have to open your eyes to hunt down the assailant.

Okay. Now you’re out of bed! Let’s keep those eyes open.

Step 5: Caffeinate…Fast

Unless you have a major sensitivity, I believe this to be non-negotiable during Wake Training Boot Camp. Pick your poison. SPARK works wonders. Coffee gets the job done. Whatever you go with, it needs to be at the ready to shoot down the hatch. It needs to hit your veins within minutes of waking. If you’re brewing coffee, chug some ice-cold water while you wait. This is no time to mess around.

Step 6: Light It Up

No, I do not mean a smoke…that’s gross. I’m talking ILLUMINATION. Flip every light switch in your reach. Make your domain as bright as possible. Tell your brain that it’s time to fire up the engines.

I’ve recently started using a Sunlight Simulating LightBox first thing in the morning and I love it!  Whether I’m hitting my treadmill or sitting down to write in the morning, I prop the LightBox up in front of me and soak up the energy.   Good stuff. 

Step 7: Go Forth and Be Awesome

You did it! It’s time to start your day. Game on. Can you feel it? That’s victory. You’re awake. Force a smile, give yourself a high-five and go get your worm.

Do you have other tips on learning to wake up early? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and join the conversation.


  1. Alissa

    Ugh. Jenny, you always have it all together. I love you, but I hate you all at once 🙂 that being said, can you come to my house and dance into my room to wake me up or be my annoying alarm clock? Please? …just…don’t be too loud or my 2 children who habitually inhabit my bed will wake also…I suck at mornings♡♡♡

    • theshiftworkerswife

      Oh honey, I finally learned to wake up early, but I’m sucking at lots of other things daily (like laundry, dusting, cleaning floors, managing paperwork, washing dishes…pretty much all housework!). But I hear ya on the bed invasion. The boys still come into our room 75% of nights, too. Yesterday Levi was in our bed and was already awake before my 5a alarm went off so I crossed my fingers, set him up with some cartoons, a NutriGrain bar and some milk while I hopped on the treadmill. Surprisingly, it worked. He just took an extra solid nap in the afternoon! Other mornings when my alarm goes off, whichever kid is in the room might wake up briefly, but they’ve gone right back to sleep. I just decided I HAD to find some time to myself in the day, and mornings are my best bet.