It was dark and rainy outside. I slowly peeled back the covers and eased away from the warm little body bedside me and into the cold. If I woke him, all bets were off.

I fumbled around in the dark for my glasses and slippers as I eased quietly from the room to make a cup of coffee. I was lucky. I had groggily slapped the alarm right as it began to beep and my early-morning visitor snoozed on unaware today.

In the kitchen the soft blue glow of the coffeemaker seemed like a spotlight across the dark kitchen as I tried not to alert the dogs to my presence (of course they knew I was there, they were just astonished at my earliness). I was determined I was going to get in a few minutes of quiet time before my day began.

As I settled into my chair Bible in hand, I opened to the Psalms and began to read. Within a few minutes I was nodding  — unfocused and barely able to keep my eyes open — until ten minutes a light popped on down the hall as my six-year-old noisily made his way to the bathroom.  I scowled (Incidentally that is the first image this child would have of me that morning) and slammed the Bible closed.

Another morning quiet time foiled. Why did I even bother anyway?

Most morning improvement courses and challenges (especially those for moms) insist that you get up early enough to have a good stretch of time spent reading and in prayer each morning.

It’s a nice thought. In fact, it is also how I prefer to spend my mornings.

But for the longest time my quest for this elusive morning perfection of quiet prayer and reading time was actually doing way more harm than good to my day. I know there are those who will never be able to agree with that statement. I also know it is truth. Here’s why.

I really needed the sleep more

As a mom of three very young children, what my body needed more than an early morning waking to be alone with God or anyone was sleep. God gave us prayer for the hard times but He also gave us common sense — it’s a gift from Him, really.

Common sense tells us that if our sleep is interrupted through the night by babies and toddlers that sacrificing what little sleep we are getting to wake up early to read and pray might not be the best course of action. The sleep might actually be more of what we need.

But we feel guilty. We see photos on Instagram of open Bibles, sunrises, and half-consumed creamy coffees and feel like we are falling short in our walk as Christian women if we don’t get that hour in each day.

I’m here to tell you that God is bigger than that. Where we would see failure, He gives grace — really.

It was making me grumpy

With the kids. With the baby. With my husband. Even with the UPS guy — and what homeschool mom doesn’t like the bearer of boxes?

My kids’ first glimpse of me almost daily was a scowl, a heavy sigh, a clear indication that they were interrupting something “better” that I needed to be doing. There was a disconnect in Christian charity here.

And the grumpiness often continued throughout the day. I was groggy, couldn’t focus on homeschooling, made mistakes and forgot things, and arrived at the end of the day ready to bite my husband’s head off than meet him with a smile at the door.

It was making me feel entitled

For the longest time I felt like I deserved to have a few minutes to myself each morning. How dare these kids (and sometimes even my husband!) invade my space! I would wake earlier and earlier to sneak away by myself, but they seemed to have some inner alarm that alerted them to my awakeness.

When they started joining me at 4:30, and it was a fight to get them back into bed (after all they needed sleep too), something had to give.

Because I had the biggest wad of resentment balled up in my chest and I realized that was not how I was supposed to feel as a mom.

It had become me versus them. I was losing, and I was not being a gracious loser. Even when I bit my tongue, my heart (and thoughts) were still black with sin, and it was eating me from the inside out.

What’s a mom to do?

I gave up. Not on prayer or Bible reading (though I will admit that for a season in my life those things did suffer).

I gave up on the myth of the perfect morning quiet time, and I just slept. The kids slept too. We all woke later feeling more rested, and I smiled more.

But most of all, my heart stopped being black and my wad of resentment disappeared.

Now that six-year-old is eleven. He came in at 6:03 as I was writing this morning, and I greeted him with a smile and a hug.

And my heart felt light.

Now I am off for a bit of quiet time.

Up next: How your perfectionism is the enemy of your best morning.

What’s a girl to do? If we aren’t waking up early for prayer and scripture, how can we fit it in our day? This video has some ideas:

Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
How your morning quiet time is sabotaging your day
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