The 5am Challenge

The 5am Challenge

Benjamin Franklin did it. Sir Richard Branson and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz do it. And now I do it.

Yes people. I have joined the 5am club.


I have always been an early riser. Back in my school days I used to get up at 4am and go swimming before school…(the weirdo that I was) and go to bed late slaving over GCSE coursework. Once I’m up, I’m up. I’m the type of person who gets up before the alarm clock goes off, just to sneak in those extra few minutes.

But since having my son I find that I’m forever trying to schedule in even more time. More time to catch up on boring chores. More time to catch up on ITV Player. More time to read all the books that were on my maternity reading list that are still on the reading list.

The fact is: there comes a time when you just don’t have time. Particularly when you have children who don’t sleep when you want them to, or when you can’t quite concentre on your book / writing / ironing / YouTube yoga class because bub might wake up at any moment so you just sit there unsure what to do as the minutes tick by.

So what do you do?


(Just to clarify, this obviously doesn’t work for parents who are severely sleep deprived and is more for those whose children have a bit more of a routine).

I came across this wild fad only recently, when I read about an annoyingly positive person called Robin Sharma who advocates the 20+20+20 rule. The idea is to spend the first 20 minutes of your day exercising, the second 20 minutes reviewing your goals and daily plan and the last 20 minutes reading something inspiring or listening to audiobooks so you outperform who you were yesterday. Mr Sharma calls this THE HOLY HOUR.

My husband calls it: THE CRAZY HOUR.

However, the rule has been tried and tested by many and apparently will unleash massive energy and productivity.

I started the 5am challenge the morning I returned to work. In fact I rose at 4:30am, eager to start the day.

Prior to having a baby, I used to rise between 5:45 and 6am and leave the house between 6:45 and 7am. Strangely I feel much more awake getting up one hour earlier, particularly as Pip wakes for a feed anytime between 4am and 6am (although this morning it was 3am!!!). So after feeding him I now just get up. There is no point in dozing!

Next comes the exercise. Despite my past early morning swimming sessions, I am not a fitness freak and I don’t particularly like the gym. So the prospect of spending 20 minutes sweating it out really doesn’t appeal. Instead I opt for 15 minutes of yoga/pilates stretching courtesy of YouTube.

Most videos are between 20-30 minutes long but I tend to skip the boring parts and throw in a few of my own moves so by the time 15 minutes has ticked by I’m feeling much warmer and more ‘with it’.

Well hello…er…sorry, got a bit distracted by this gif…

Where was I?

Right, whilst I shower, dress and eat the leftover spanakopita I attempt to think about my goals and daily plans (and sometimes even catch up with my favourite programmes on ITV player in the background). This takes me to about 6am and then I spend some time doing all the boring chores I would normally have to do after work e.g. ironing / putting clothes away / setting out Pip’s clothes / preparing milk bottles / putting the washing on (or taking the washing out – TOP TIP: put the washing in as soon as you get up and it will be done by the time you’re ready!). I feel much better sorting this out in the morning especially since all I want to do when I get home from work now is spend time with my son.

I complete the last 2o minute segment on my way to work, either reading the paper or my kindle or listening to Zorba. So whilst not strictly following every aspect of Robin’s rule, I have developed my own 5am routine.

And do you know what? I actually feel much better. That extra hour to myself allows me to de-clutter my mind and organise bits and bobs that otherwise might stress me out after a day in the office. And I don’t feel so guilty about not going to the gym in the evenings because I have already done some exercise. (GET IN).

The downside is that by 8pm I am shattered. Then again I have never been a night owl and as soon as I’m tired I take myself off to bed. Pip comes too of course and we read for a bit before it’s lights out.

So if you find that you are struggling to fit everything into your day why not try getting up just a tad earlier? I have included a link below to one of the Yoga with Adriene videos that I watch on a daily basis but there are plenty of tutorials you can choose from if you simply type in ‘Morning madne…‘ I mean, ‘Morning Workout’.

Remember, as renowned polymath Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

(I have yet to see evidence of the wealthy bit but I did find a pound coin on the pavement the other day, which someone else surely would have nabbed had I not been out and about so early, so perhaps there is some truth in it after all!)

P.S. If anyone wants to purchase The Greek Wives Club T-Shirt I am wearing you can do so at The Greek Wives Club Zazzle Store.


Leave a Reply


  1. 11th November 2015 / 8:41 am

    I was a little distracted by that GIF too! Perhaps I should try to re-read your blog post and focus on the words in stead of that hunky man doing pull ups with one hand lol.

    They say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I wish you all the best with your new morning routine!

    • Ekaterina
      11th November 2015 / 8:42 am

      21 days eh? That’s interesting! Glad you were distracted too… πŸ˜‰

  2. 10th November 2015 / 2:30 pm

    I love this post. It’s fair to say that that I might never be a sleep deprived mother πŸ™‚ however, I’ve always found myself getting up around 5-5.30am partially due to work and partially because when I wake up, I just never go back to sleep. I don’t think I have ever been woken by an alarm clock in my whole life.

    You can get so much done by getting up early, though it would be a tough job getting more done than you! As you say though, the downside is the early evenings, after 8pm, I am not much good for anything. In fact on Sunday at 7pm I slept through an entire episode of Walking Dead which as you can imagine is quite a feat and of course I only videoed it in the first place as 9pm is obviously a total no go area.

    Anyway, early risers are the best πŸ™‚

    • Ekaterina
      10th November 2015 / 2:36 pm

      Thank you Stephen. Yes the downside is that we miss all of the good programmes! But at least we can catch up during the early hours – and I end up concentrating more so know exactly what’s going on!

  3. 10th November 2015 / 10:31 am

    Loved BFGC video! Your dress was beyond fab! Pip is a pip! I’m an early riser as well; always have been.. It’s the best part of the day! But I crash early .. being 68 now I am done by dark. Still have high energy but not at night! Penelope and Pandora curl up with me in bed.. and eventually my husband joins us.. Now I must read A Half Greek Girl abroad.. that’s me! Opa!

    • Ekaterina
      10th November 2015 / 2:34 pm

      Thank you so much! It is indeed the best part of the day – although I do enjoy crawling into bed at night as well! Pandora and Penelope look so sweet – what wonderful names! πŸ™‚ So glad you are enjoying my posts πŸ™‚

  4. MM Jaye
    10th November 2015 / 8:08 am

    Very inspiring, Ekaterina! Empowering, too! I’m one of those severely sleep deprived moms. My daughter is a child in the spectrum (a light case, thank God) and it took her about four years to develop a steady sleep pattern. Still, if something wakes her up at or after 3am (thunder, a car alarm) she won’t go back to sleep. I’ve sent her to school when she’d been up since 4am. I wish I were an early riser like you. The Holy Hour makes much sense even though it’s unlikely I’ll ever do it.

    One question, though: if you crash at 8pm when is your quality time with your husband? Because my hubbie and I tried to get some alone time, I ended up going to bed at 11pm, so no way I’d be able to be up earlier than 7am. Now, he’s more tired than me due to work strain, and at 10pm he’s snoring…

    Here in Greece, everyone cries that money or employment is the number one “good” in one’s life, but I say: SLEEP, people; Sleeping time. The chemical imbalance sleep deprivation causes can do serious damage.

    • Ekaterina
      10th November 2015 / 8:14 am

      Quality time with hubby doesn’t exist! To be honest even before bub came along I always went to bed earlier anyway. So it’s literally weekends only – in fact Sunday only, as he works on Saturdays. In fact never as we are always surrounded by his family too. So as my father would say in a heavy Greek accent, “What is this ‘quality time’ you speak of?”

      • MM Jaye
        10th November 2015 / 8:34 am

        I’m so with you! In fact, for the past two days, the little one has had a blocked nose, and she can’t deal, so instead of me going over to her bed, twenty times in one night, I kept her in mine, and hubbie slept in hers. I’m telling you this: I wrote 800 words in my WIP when she was asleep next to me, and I kind of liked this “separate bed” thing. So after no quality time, comes “separate bedrooms”? Gah!!!

        • Ekaterina
          10th November 2015 / 8:38 am

          Haha well as I often tell his royal Cypriot-ness, back in King Henry VIII’s day couples had their own rooms and it was only in later years when people couldn’t afford two bedrooms that they were forced to share a bed… He doesn’t buy it.

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