A few months ago I would have laughed in your face if you told me the secret to starting my day with a better outlook would be choosing to get out of bed earlier than I absolutely have to, but that’s what I did, and the results have changed my world.
If you head over to Google it won’t take you long to find numerous examples of morning routines for moms. While doing my own research, I noticed a pattern. Most of the examples of morning routines were for getting a head start on work, the house chores, the ever-growing Mommy To-Do List, etc. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are awesome. I love feeling productive. But what I was needing more of was time in my day to take care of myself. I needed more time to devote to the little things in my life that make me happy or relaxed that didn’t involve my kids.
So I decided to come up with my own version of a morning routine, the early morning routine, the one that starts before tackling the things you have to do during the day and focuses on the things you want to do.
If I haven’t lost you yet, allow me to say this: I understand that sometimes managing enough sleep to be able to function is difficult depending on the ages of your children and/or their individual sleep habits. If you’re currently reading this post through your sleepy fog as you sip on your 4th cup of coffee of the day… I feel for you, Mama, and it will get better. But for now, if beginning an early morning routine will just lead to even more unhealthy levels of sleep deprivation for you, then you should probably just pin this post and come back to it a little later when things are settled down. Getting enough sleep is definitely at the top of the list of self care.
But if you can predict when your little ones will wake up in the morning with any consistency, read on!
MY EARLY MORNING ROUTINE
First things first, I make myself go to bed at a reasonable time. I have a rough idea of how long it takes me to settle down and fall asleep and I know about how much sleep I need to be able to function and feel alert the next day. I try to be settled into bed around the same time each night with an alarm set for approximately 90 minutes before my children usually wake up. Then the next morning, it begins. Here’s an example of how my morning starts. Yours doesn’t have to look like this. Heck, it may look nothing like this, and that’s the beauty of it! This time is 100% yours to use to do what you need to help you feel happier when starting your day.
Meditate (5 minutes): I’m new to the world of meditation so I do it in short bursts. First thing in the morning is one of the few times I can guarantee that it’ll be dead quiet in my house. As soon as my alarm goes off, I use my phone to set a timer for 5 minutes. Sometimes I do this while still lying in bed (not a good idea if you’re prone to falling asleep again, though) or sometimes I will move into the living room onto the couch. I added meditation to my pre-dawn routine after reading about its potential benefits of decreasing stress and increasing happiness. Being a beginner, I’m still very much in the early stages of reaping all of the benefits of meditation, though I’m excited to continue this practice. If you need a good tutorial for getting started with meditation for yourself, try this one.
Exercise (25 minutes): Moving my body helps me to wake up, limber up, and flood my body with endorphins which does wonders for helping me begin my day with a more positive outlook. I begin with 5 minutes of stretching and follow with about 20 minutes of light cardio or, if I want something more intense, a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. I like to multi-task and pull up a workout video on my phone or tablet while I have the morning news or an episode of something on the TV.
Start the Coffee (3 minutes): Or put the kettle on the stove for tea, refill a water bottle, etc…
Freshen Up And Get Dressed (5-10 minutes): I normally shower later in the day, so while my coffee brews I do the basics of brushing my teeth, washing my face, brushing my hair, and putting on some clean clothes (and yes, simply changing into a different pair of yoga pants or leggings is totally acceptable here). Sometimes I will slam on some eyeliner and mascara to help me feel put together. Having a fresh face and clean clothes motivates me to be productive as the day begins, even though most days I may not even leave the house or see another human being outside of my husband, the kids, and the FedEx delivery man.
Personal Time (30+ minutes): This is a time to do whatever will make you the most happy before the kiddos wake up and demand your attention. I usually pour a mug of hot coffee and cozy up on the couch with a blanket while I read a book, check emails, and/or catch up on an episode of a show. Sometimes I just want to sit in the silent house, enjoying the steam rising from my mug and watching the sun rise. Your activities during this time may look different than mine. Maybe you’d like to combine the previous step with this one and take a long hot shower free of interruptions. Maybe you have a hobby or craft you’d like to spend some time doing. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that makes you feel happy and relaxed. Avoid tasks that will leave you feeling stressed or frustrated.
It only took a few days of implementing this schedule to notice a distinct difference in how I felt once it came time to go upstairs and get my kids’ day started. Before, my morning started by rolling out of bed, fogged from sleep with matted hair, a parched throat and heavy legs that could barely pull me up the steps to their bedrooms. I was already frustrated and overwhelmed at how many tasks I needed to do for the house and kids let alone finding time to take care of myself, and I had just opened my eyes minutes before. Now, by the time they wake up, I feel motivated and positive. I’m fully awake. I’ve exercised, I’m clean and caffeinated, and I’ve spent some time stimulating my mind with something that makes me feel happy. When I go into my oldest child’s bedroom he is greeted by a mom who can smile at him genuinely and fill him with cheerful vibes instead of one who is just faking it (not always convincingly, I’m sure) for his benefit.
It took me several days to really get into the swing of things with this routine, as I had to resist the urge to throw my phone across the room when it bleeped at me so early in the morning. But after about a week I found myself looking forward to that extra time to myself. Now, I even get up early on the weekends too, because I really do want (and need!) the benefits that an early routine has brought to my life.
Have I convinced you to give an early morning routine a try? Let me know in the comments! If you’ve tried implementing some of my ideas, tell me all about your experiences, pros and cons. I’d love to hear about them!