As a mom of two official toddlers, I am up between 7:30 and 8 every morning.  Without fail, these kids either want to play or tuck into a helping of scrambled eggs, and run or scoot as fast as they can to their toys.  They don't slow down for tired parents and, in all honesty, I wouldn't have them any other way.  On the lighter side of our morning routine, this feels like climbing a mountain when I've come home late the night before from a show, or driven home from an out-of-town rehearsal or concert.  Ever tried to get a practice session in when you haven't had enough sleep?  Here are a few things I do to get myself through a rough morning and still continue on to have a productive day.

Water, Water, Water

I start every day with a liter of water.  It makes me feel fresh and gets my system circulating, as well as making my face feel pliable for playing the horn.  It's also nice to set an example for the tots by drinking water out of a fancy bottle instead of peddling juice in a sippy cup.  After 6 years of doing this, I'm pretty able to handle that much water without running to the restroom every three minutes, but it was definitely something that I learned in increments!  Try a cup of water, go to the restroom, and try another cup to ease into it.  If I'm really tired, I drink cold ice water and it wakes me up pretty quickly.  Getting on the train first thing in the morning?  Sometimes I drink half, empty my water, and drink the rest on my way in.  It requires waking up a little earlier, but that extra ten minutes is really worth it for me.  Apparently, playing a triple for as long as I have teaches you a thing or two about managing water! 

Get to the Happy Place

Next, I need to zap the synapses and get my body buzzing.  I am a huge coffee fan and I have two cups at this point.  I enjoy the bitterness of a dark roast, but it's almost more of the hot temperature against the cold water that makes my eyes pop.  It's relaxing to sip coffee while I'm watching the kids and teaching them to play nicely with each other, and to wait for the caffeine to kick in!  When I didn't know them in person and I couldn't drink coffee, I drank black or herbal tea and, when I was nauseated, hot water and lemon or ginger.  Anything, even sparkling water, that reboots the system is good here.


I need to counterbalance all the liquid sloshing around with some lean, light protein.  It gives me some fuel and helps me feel fortified, and not like I'm dragging myself around while I'm withering away.  When I'm tired and I've had less than six hours of sleep, hunger makes it seem impossible to get anything done, especially when I have a big playing or practicing day on the horizon.  Eggs are usually my go-to, but chicken breast pieces or nuts are also good.  The worst thing I can eat here is an overload of carbs or greasy fat: that just makes me feel like I need to go back to sleep, which of course, I do!

But srsly...get some sleep!

All right, now that you know how I get started on these days that are mini-marathons, it's all for naught if you can't plan some sleep.  We have a nap built in for the kids, so if I'm really desperate, I take an hour of their two-hour nap to join them, and then I get back up and practice.  More and more, I find myself going to sleep before 11 if I can see that there's a hard turnover coming up.  If worst comes to worst, I sneak a nap on the train.  A new acquaintance of mine shared a trick he uses to nap on the train: sunglasses, big headphones, corner seat, and sleep in 12-minute increments.  He says he never misses his stop!

Having kids is awesome, but parents aren't the only people that are dead tired.  Before I was a mom, I had many late nights followed by early mornings, and sometimes that's still my story.  Caring for ourselves is such an after-thought, and sometimes it should be at the front of our minds, for the sake of our playing.  Next time you're tired, take a minute for something to drink and eat...and don't forget to find some time for sweet, sweet sleep!