5.15 am. Music fills my ears as I dance. Responsibilities to my children melt away. I’m alone. I’m free. Nobody’s mother. Nobody’s wife. I’m reminded of 5am dance parties of years past- on beaches, in fields. In dingy, dimly-lit clubs, with old friends and beautiful strangers.
But this not a festival. This is pandemic. This is dancing alone in my kitchen while my children and husband sleep upstairs. This is me-time, sanity rescued, through an insanely early wake-up call.
I’ve discovered the genius of LA based Ryan Heffington and his dance party sessions via Instagram Live. These sessions are the perfect start to my day. Days where I’ve reclaimed the first couple of hours for me only.
Struggling to find a space for me
All winter and into early spring, I’d been struggling. Struggling to find a space for me in the middle of the motherhood mess. Long before the Coronavirus robbed us of childcare and trips away alone.
Struggling to be a nice person in the mornings. Woken up by elbows in my eyes, calls for breakfast (I’m so hungry Mama! No not porridge Mama!) My two-year-old would appear at first light by my bed, a ball of energy, practically dragging me out of bed or crawling on top of me and bouncing there until I woke up (or pawned him off on my equally struggling husband).
My first emotions of the day were anger and resentment. Can’t I just have a moment alone to wake up?
The later, towards bedtime. The long, drawn-out bedtimes, with multiples requests for water, lost teddys and snacks. Gritting my teeth and watching the clock waiting for “me-time” to begin.
I knew I needed to get up earlier. Something to make a difference to my mood, to my day, to how I dealt with the new Coronavirus normal.
But the toddler was often up at 6am.It had to be earlier than that. I knew this but needed a push.
The "5am club".
I happened across a podcast on the “5am club” (all the successful CEO’s do it, don’t you know). Here was a formula for that early rising - 20 mins moving the body, 20 mins reflection and 20 mins growth. It was time.
Later, after dinner, I decide that what I need to get the body moving first thing is a dance class! Synchronicity appears. Picking up my phone to ask friends for a dance class recommendation- a message already there in the WhatsApp group of my oldest friends. M in Canada has JUST this hour done a dance class and is recommending we try it. Yes! It is definitely time.
Next morning, the fabulous Mr Heffington, beams positivity and fun from his home in sunny LA to mine in the (uncharacterstically sunny) Northwest of Ireland through the power of Instagram. Because of the time difference I miss out on watching him live, but I feel he's with me, as I grapevine, yawning, across our crappy terracotta tiles.
I feel the love. I feel alive. I forget that it is 5am and most normal(?) people are asleep now.
It has transformed my mornings
Now each morning, I do 20-30 mins of the dance session. After, I write or I meditate. I plan my day. I potter for a bit. I sit outside and enjoy the birdsong. I drink coffee (alone, no spills). I plan, I muse. I knock things off the to-do list for my fledgling online side business.
I feel like I’ve cheated time. Yes I’m in bed by 10pm, but the day is so full, and I’ve started it the way I want to. I’ve knocked stuff of the to-do list. I’ve found time I didn’t know I had. Even on the mornings of the little one's earliest wake-ups I manage to get some dance on (while he snacks, still sleepy, and watches on).
It's not without a few setbacks. There's the morning I'm exhausted and get up anyway and my husband hasn't slept well so is pottering about the kitchen. In my dance zone. Before I have a chance to allow the endorphins to soothe away the morning rage. He offers me coffee. I decline - gracelessly (Let's just say I won't be offered coffee early in the morning again any time soon).
But for the most part I’m smiling first thing. Huge, genuine smiles that come from deep within and set the tone for the day.
Later, even the bedtime reading has become more fun because I'm not waiting for them to get into bed to start my me-time.
I’m ready for bed at 9.30pm these days, but I’m not pacing about the house searching meaning in those precious hours after the kids are in bed (and getting lost in screens or housework). Instead I find my meaning in the morning.
How do you get your "me-time" in, if you do? Do you get up early or stay up late into the evening? Or does a 5am start sound like madness to you?