I've always been a morning person at heart. As a young child, I was the first one up on Saturday mornings. While the rest of the family dozed, I tiptoed down the stairs, fixed myself a bowl of Mini Wheats and settled in with the Smurfs. During my teens and early twenties, I definitely strayed from my natural tendency to be an early riser, opting for any last second of sleep before throwing on crumpled jeans and dashing off to class. I took up running about 13 years ago, and rediscovered the beauty of greeting the day with the sunrise. My early morning runs gave me energy and cleared my head before a long and often stressful day as an accountant. It felt good to start each day doing something just for me.
As the days grow longer this time of year, I find myself willingly crawling out from under the quilt earlier each day. It turns out dear Muffy inherited the early riser gene and is my faithful companion in the wee hours of the morning. Although I awake at 5:45 am, I usually rise around 6 am and head downstairs to get the breakfast routine started. I've noticed an increase in the appetites of my two growing boys so I've been making an effort to provide more hearty breakfasts. Quick bowls of cereal have been replaced with hearty porridge, French toast, scrambled eggs and yogurt and granola. The sound of clanking dishes drifts upstairs and soon Chi-Chi and Hubby appear.
Since the school bus picks up at 8 am, an early start to the day provides a great opportunity for Chi-Chi and Muffy to eat, relax and play at a leisurely pace. I feel that this unstructured time is so very important, particularly for Chi-Chi who faces a fairly structured day in his Primary classroom. I have mixed feelings about it all, so I make every effort to ensure the time spent at home supplements what might be missing during school hours. Physical activity and time outdoors is so very critical for these boys. They simply can't get enough of it. The school schedule allows for a 10 minute outdoor recess in the morning and a 35 minute recess over the lunch hour. Coming out of the winter season, these breaks were often held indoors due to the weather. I struggle with this.
On this beautiful sunny morning, both boys were dressed and out the door at 7:15 am. This allowed for a full 45 minutes of unstructured play and exploration in the backyard and on the trails down to the bus stop. Before his school day officially began, Chi-Chi was able to:
- paint a picture of the sunrise over the Atlantic ocean
- collect spruce cones to plant for seedlings.
- perfect his mourning dove call as he mimicked morning visitors at the bird feeder
- set up an elaborate system to collect sap from a spruce tree, convinced maple syrup will result
- upon hearing quacking, spot, two mallard ducks flying over head
- collect two fresh eggs from the chicken coop
- run through wooded paths and squeal in delight
- retrace the steps of a coyote
- smash ice with pure pleasure
I'm convinced this time to stretch his muscles and mind freely will allow him to better focus during his structured desk time this morning. As I sit and write, little Muffy is completely engrossed in a very complex and detailed Lego construction. He is working so quietly and independently, seeming so settled after being outdoors.
I've always felt that time spent in the early morning hours, particularly outdoors, is almost a best kept secret. For those who like to sleep in and catch every last wink, they simply don't know what they are missing!