January 11

January 11

January 11

January 11

January 11

January 11

January 11

January 11

In a sometimes desperate push to always be planning more,  preparing more, accomplishing more, (and yes, knitting more)  I have found myself awake far later than I should be every night for many years now.  I have not set personal limits for myself in places where I should have.  Sleep, one of the very basics of self care has fallen to the wayside.  Add to that multiple night wakings by multiple children over the years, and you have one tired mama.  True, I am not a good sleeper, so without “perfect” conditions I have trouble falling asleep.  So on the nights I have forced myself into bed early, early being 10 p.m. or so, I have laid there awake, stressed that I can’t fall asleep, until a wee one has woken up and joined me, leaving me wondering why I didn’t just wait to get in bed when baby needed me to begin with.  Think of all I could have been doing during those two hours….

But, this must change.  Surely I can convince my body to sleep earlier if I keep trying.  Two nights ago I accomplished what I thought impossible.  I drank Tazo rest tea, took a hot shower using lavender bath products, coated myself in sleeping potion (it’s not just for babies!) and chose bedtime reading that didn’t leave my mind racing about all the things I could do to make life easier, more organized, more, more, more, etc.   and I fell asleep before midnight.  The following morning I was out of bed before the sun, and most importantly, before my children.  I took a photo of the dark sky, and a photo of the rising sun.  Proof.   I filled out daily lists for each of my children, did a bit of knitting, checked in with email and the few online things I check each day, made breakfast, and the list goes on.  I like a productive morning.  I definitely prefer a productive morning to a productive night.  So, I am going to make this change, I am.

We were finished with lessons by lunchtime, and made an afternoon run to the library.  My girls tend to choose books that I think are tacky.  They each get a couple of their own choices, but I choose most.  When we got home, Jonny came in for a break and exclaimed in mock happiness, “Oh, new library books!”  The girls would have him reading all day long if they could.  And as much as he loves reading about Fancy Nancy (His exact words, as if they pained him, were:  “Oh heavens, Fancy Nancy’s favorite words from accessories to zany”  exhale with a sigh….)

And about those daily lists….I got tired of reminding my boys to do things like brush their teeth and get dressed.  So they each have a simple checklist with basic self care, chores, and schoolwork.  It really is nice not to have to remind them constantly to do this or do that.  Although, I need to come up with some incentive for getting it all done, because one of them is still leaving things undone…head in the clouds…gotta love him.  (edited to add:  I replaced my daily planner with a simple pad of paper alongside my kids this year.  I have a basic monthly planner for appointments, but all the daily stuff, including meals for the day, go on my daily list.)

A couple of years ago I actually sewed a series of linen pouches to hold laminated hand drawn chore cards, and even embroidered initials on the pouches, and then an entire scene across the top of the thing.  It was a work of art man.  I never could implement it though.  Too complicated.  So this time around, it’s a piece of rusty metal dragged up from the shed hung on a screw that already happened to be sticking out of the side of the chimney, bulldog magnetic clips, and cheap pads of paper.  Of course my kids wanted to add artwork.  I had to put a stop to it after a few minutes because they kept messing up and smearing paint everywhere.  Ideally, at the end of the day they will each write their list for the next day.  I don’t live in an ideal world though, so I am writing their lists for them most days.

Last night I couldn’t fall asleep despite having been up since the crack of dawn.  This morning I couldn’t sneak away from Silas in the bed, so I didn’t get up as early as I wanted to.  That’s okay.   I’m flexible, and I won’t forever have a warm little baby to snuggle up to on a cold winter morning.

p.s.  Last two photos of Beatrix are unrelated.



  1. Thank you for your blog. I have trouble sleeping and I think all the interrupted sleep through the years made sleeping through the night very difficult. Two things that really help me are (1) getting exercise, even just a 15 minute bike ride, and (2) darkness. I put up darker curtains in our bedroom and I found a very comfortable eye mask and both really help. As silly as it sounds, it’s tough to make the time for the 15-minute bike ride (I ride down our hill and back up it) but I remind myself that it helps my whole family when I get more sleep and that I come home in a better mood–which is nice for everyone. So it’s really a gift I am giving my family, it’s not just for me. Thinking like that is more motivating, somehow.

  2. Bambi Beachboard says:

    I love you daily list idea, I am totally putting this into practice in our home! Especially for me. I hope to have my log up and running this week so as to join your yarn along! I so enjoy your blog thanks for being an inspiration.

  3. Also putting my hand up as a late-to-bedder… midnight arrives all too easy! I too need to make changes. But something that really does help me is a good couple of “glugs” (lots of drops – maybe 10 – 15!) of lavender essential oil on my pillow. I keep a couple of different lavender oil varieties (one french lavender [dentata], the others augustifolia but grown in different places so they have very slightly different scents). I buy lavender online from large essential oil/raw materials suppliers, they seem have the freshest and highest quality oils and for it to work for me, the smell has to be strong. It’s the smell that takes me away somehow and allows me to relax, I don’t find my thoughts trying to circle in my head when I use it for some reason. I love the stuff.

  4. I hear ya. I could have written this post myself, all of it (I nodded at the disrupted sleep, lovely alone morning and laughed at the library book choices), about 6 months ago. I started changing my ways and am soooo much happier on the mornings/days I beat the kids awake. I exercise in the mornings and find that dragging myself out of bed for it beats the extra 30 minutes of sleep every time. Get up early enough regularly, you start to notice your body relaxing and letting you sleep earlier in the night.

  5. I’m also struggling with how to get more sleep, too — it’s hard when you work from home and need to make productive use of some of the evening time for work-related stuff. I find that I can’t just stop working and go to bed immediately, so I wind up staying up later than I’d ideally stay up, just to give myself some downtime between work and sleep.

  6. Just found your blog & am so glad I did! I just started knitting & love it, right know I am just doing washclothes, but hope to move on soon to bigger things(scarfs, etc.). Love the daily list idea & hanging them up, gonna try it! I just started going to bed by ten & reading a little before, I have to read something for fun where my mind does not have to work or else I am also laying there wide awake & thinking nonstop. I have five kiddos, I homeschool three of them, my oldest son graduated from homeschooling & is in the Navy, My oldest dd is in 11 gr. & goes to our small High school, she has been homeschooled till 10 gr. She is going for nursing, my other 2 dd’s & boy are schooled at home. HAVE A BLESSED DAY!!!!!!!

  7. I love making lists (or should I say, I love to check out items from lists!) so I usually have a list of random things to do. Usually I write it down as I remember; sometimes I reorganise, most of the times I don’t. If I don’t have lists, it’s usual easier to forget something.
    I don’t have sleep problems in years, but for a long time I had to struggle with insomnia… and it is terrible. Now my problem is that I don’t get enough sleep because if I go to bed too early, I won’t spend virtually no time with my husband; but my son is waking up every day earlier too! 🙂 I usually get him to our bed to nurse him,, sometimes he snuggles with me but I don’t sleep after that. And after a while he just wants to get out of bed and start toddlering around the house…

  8. You are not alone! For years I’ve struggled to get some sleep. The hours after the house is quiet, have always been too alluring. Time was needed to be creative , relax, regroup, to just be myself. When the kids were small, I used nap time in much the same way. Even while homeschooling, we had a quiet time, typically after lunch. It was reading time, in their rooms, and often they did fall asleep for a short nap.
    There will be a time, when you look back and wonder how you ever accomplished it all! And someday, you will miss those little bodies that seem to always want just you.

  9. Me too, I’ve never been a sleeper. And especially now that I have kids and have gotten used to waking up every two hours or so it’s like my body simply doesn’t know how to go to sleep or stay asleep. It’s beyond frustrating.
    On a side note, I love that your older boys are listening to Fancy Nancy too!

  10. I love this—sounds just like my life (except with fewer children). I *love* those days when I managed to get to bed early enough to get up early enough to have a productive morning. It always makes the rest of the day seem so much more like I want it to be. It doesn’t happen nearly often enough… xo

  11. Oh how I would love to get up earlier than my kids! It just never happens so I have decided to stop torturing myself.
    I laughed at you having to stop the decorating with paint due to messes and smearing…sounds vaguely familiar 😉
    You are a champion.

  12. I tried the pretty bag with laminated chore cards too. Didn’t work. Now, I just ask the kids to do things when they need to be done. I guess I should find a better way but….
    I absolutely cannot function without sleep. Some nights I just lay there too. My head is spinning. I hate it. I’m going to make myself a cup of nighty night tea right now while I’m thinking of it!
    I hope you sleep well tonight! ♥

  13. I love, love, love early mornings, especially cold dark ones (weird, I know). Since I’ve had mono, I’m forced to get to bed ridiculously early if I want to be able to work the next day. And so I’ve been able to get up around 5:45 and make it to mass before work. I think morning (especially early morning) is the best part of the day.

  14. Hello there, I’ve never made a comment before on your blog, but I have been enjoying it for awhile. It’s funny you posted about your lists for the children, I had just did this for mine, ages 7 and 10. I also wrote up a schedule of how I would like the day to go. So far so good. I don’t have the discipline to homeschool, I don’t think anyway, but I work at my sons’ school part time. As for having them complete their chores, they need to do them before they can do the fun stuff, like play with legos. If they happen to play before they have their stuff done or ready for the day I confiscate what they were playing with, with the understanding they can earn it back. I think it will work well, as long as I keep up with it…. Good luck with yours!

  15. Love this post! Not enough hours in a day! Very wise to steal an extra bit of time to curl up to a warm little body in bed…

  16. Haha! I have the same problem. I love me a good quiet morning, but can’t seem to drag myself out of a cozy bed. I always say I’m gonna change my habits, and get up earlier, but it never seems to happen. Maybe one day. I hear when you get really old (like 60 years from now) your internal alarm clock starts working much more reliably. I’m counting on that.

  17. Funny you know I was just having this conversation with mother friend of mine…. about not sleeping. I am not a sleeper haven’t been for quite a while, 5 years of a twice a night sleepwalker and 6 years of breastfeeding can be blamed!
    I spoke to my doctor about it at one point as I couldn’t sleep for anymore than 2 hours at a time, apparently mothers of 3 or more children have the highest incidence of insomnia.
    I still wake at 2am and 5am everynight……..

    Love the lists!


  18. 1) i love love love lists; i make them all the time
    2) i wish i’d taken ballet when i was younger!

  19. I love your honesty here. A few years ago my husband and I decided to get to bed every night at 10. We did really well-and felt so much better for a LONG time. This past year we have had so much change in our lives that we’ve started staying up late and trying to get things done. It’s not working. Not enough margin in our lives anymore.

  20. I don’t often struggle with insomnia although my husband and youngest daughter do – so I feel for you. That battle about getting to sleep early enough is certainly an ongoing one for me. Naturally, I am a night owl but can’t stay up super late any more and be a joyful mom. Also, some bloggers I read about are managing to get to bed by 9:30, say, in order to be up early. But my oldest is 15 and that would mean going to bed before him all the time which doesn’t work. I want to be available for him if he wants to chat and while he is doing his homework. Still, I know I need to work on creating a bit more of an evening routing – and using more self-discipline-to get myself to bed even by 10:30-11:00 max.

  21. loving the honesty of the craziness of the day. even with just one i sometimes feel like life is crazy! a simple notebook for dailies sounds like a good idea to me! and i love the notepads on clips like you’ve got – may have to implement that in our house, too!

  22. I’m so glad I found your blog, I could have written a post similar to this myself…
    I find my mornings extremely productive when up before the children, so much more is accomplished and leaves the rest of the day open to so much more. Keep at the sleep thing, I read for a half hour or so and this is usually enough to send me drifting off. Oh do take advantage of those baby cuddles and snuggles they are gone so quick.

  23. Keep at it (the sleep thing)–I’m right there with you. I recently discovered how much better my days go if I’m up before my kids–I want to start as many days as possible with the contented, relaxed, prepared feeling it gives me.

  24. Oh I like those check lists! Maybe I should try that, I often have to remind the children of daily things like teeth and sweeping!

    I need to work on that early rise thing too. Some peaceful time before the kids rise would be wonderful and I really don’t need to be up so late either. Pregnancy is helping with the early to bed part but not with the early rising!

  25. I’m totally with you on the going too late to bed thing. Since my third was born two years ago I find myself going to bed much later than I ever used to. I NEED that uniterrupted me time. I know going to bed earlier is much healthier (is it really?) and starting the day early is a wonderful feeling indeed. But I also know that were I to sneak out of bed early in the morning my little one would soon stir and complain very loudly when finding the bed beside her empty. I also find that I can really sink into my writing/knitting etc. in the evening because I will not be, generally speaking, disturbed by cries.

    I sometimes feel I should go to bed earlier like yourself. Maybe I should give it a try.

    Have a beautiful day. It’s evening here 😉

  26. Oh, oh, oh. You are describing me and our household perfectly.
    I absolutely love your lists, why hasn’t this occured to me? This, I am going to do with my oldest three.
    Thank you!!!

  27. Oh I’ve been trying to be a morning person for awhile now. I do good for a few days then not so much. I’m thinking I may just have to start accepting the fact that I’m a night owl :-/ I DO get lots accomplished at night though (most times). I’m in the process of putting together daily chore charts here too….although for me! I need a set schedule. I think it’ll help our days flow more smoothly!

  28. Dear Ginny, Imagine all the mamas out there, tossing and turning, writing and re-writing those lists in their heads while all they need is a good sleep! Yes, I am one of those mamas. I stay up way too late for “me” time which involves tidying up, preparing lessons, and maybe, if I’m lucky, a little knitting or computer time. I fall into bed somwhere close to midnight, wedged between two of my three little people. But yes, snuggling my one year old is so sweet! I have often thought this ought to change, and I make heroic efforts to go to bed earlier, only to wake up at 3am. For the day. Harumph. Thanks for posting this, it made me smile. And I love your creative ideas for helping your children in self-care. Mine are a bit young yet, I think, but I’ll file that away in my head to ponder it at 3am. 🙂
    xo Jules

  29. ahhh, ginny, you and me both! 1:30 a.m’s not such a bad hour… if i’m “accomplishing something”. but when i’ve been staring at the ceiling for hours, i.e. last night? the frustration slays me.

    thanks, as always, for your honesty, from the fate of the beautiful crafty board to the utilitarian one, from the goals to the realities.

    and sweet dreams 🙂


  30. I love mornings, and I am definitely more of a morning person. My struggle has been children who get up earlier when they notice mama is gone from bed (even when they are in other rooms!). It is getting better now, but boy, do I understand burning the candle at both ends. I have recently thought we may need a bit of a daily reminder of sorts. I like the simplicity of yours. Often I make something elaborate that just doesn’t live up to my ideals. (oh, my Aine also loves Fancy Nancy and all things trite when we go to the library).

  31. Speaking right to me today. I dont do it as often as I used to but still too often. I enjoy the quiet of the night, everything still. It seems that no matter when I go to sleep at night I still get up around the same time. Last night I couldnt get my mind to settle down and I hadnt been able to knit for the evening. My hands felt “knit-chy”. I didnt crawl into bed until 3am. Ugh.

  32. We’ve done chore charts like that with success as well. I hope they make your life easier. I love that your boys are gathered around listening to Fancy Nancy too. <3 Good luck with shifting your time and sleep!

  33. I am glad to hear that you exert some control over the library choices as well…I hate it (and refuse to check out or read) books that are based on TV shows….

  34. Oh my, those daily clipboard checklists might just be what i need in our home!! We have chore charts but they haven’t been working very well for awhile. I think having my children actually CROSS OFF or check off each item after they have finished might work better. Now, i’m going to figure out a place to put some clips!! I love it! 🙂

  35. I used to be a pretty sound sleeper, but things change. I change. Now I find the most restful sleep is unfortunately right before the time I need to get up (all that tossing and turning before made me so so tired I guess). And I’m not an early riser but need to start more in that direction too. The only problem here is that the sun rises later than what I’m used to so if I ‘wait’ for the sun to rise, it’ll be pretty late in the morning time. Love the hanging lists – quick and easy to implement. I even have bulldog clips (but alas, no magnetic ones) I had to laugh at your previous pretty to-do charts with the linen pockets and embroidery. That would be something I would want to do but then actually putting it to use would be another matter. Hope you get into a new sleeping rhythm.

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