This post was originally published on Modern Alternative Mama.
The way you start your morning has a huge impact on the rest of your day. Do you wake up already late, feeling frustrated, or cranky? If so, it might be time to create a more peaceful and nurturing morning routine.
When you begin your day intentionally, with activities that ground and nourish you, you will be far more able to deal with the challenges of a busy day.
I can’t tell you what your intentional morning routine will look like. It will be different for everyone, based on your needs, the ages and needs of your children, and whether you are a cheerful morning person or take a long time to wake up.
I remember going to a talk about creating a morning writer’s routine when my daughter was about 9 months old. The speaker talked about waking up at 5AM, meditating for 30 minutes, and then going to her desk and writing longhand for 2 uninterrupted hours.
That speaker didn’t have a baby in the house.
While that all sounded lovely, it was never going to happen in the life I was living right then.
But it did make me think through what I wanted my mornings to look like. I wanted a hot shower every day. I wanted the opportunity to wake slowly. And I wanted to drink my coffee while it was still hot. I considered what habits I could change and negotiated a bit with my partner, and I was able to build those three things into my days.
Now that my daughter is a little older, my morning routine looks a bit different. But it is still intentional.
Routine: noun: a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.
When cultivating a morning routine, your why is as important as your how. What do you want your mornings to feel like? What would you like to change about your current morning routine? What is most important to make space for? What will best set the tone for your day?
Don’t overlook the areas that you want to cut from your morning. Is making lunches while also serving breakfast the bane of your day? Is getting backpacks packed what brings your morning to a halt? Is it getting the kids dressed and fed on time? Consider what things you can strike from your morning by getting them dealt with the night before. Enlist your kids to help here, too! Their creative solutions might surprise you.
Here are the four main things to think about in cultivating a more peaceful morning routine:
A great way to begin your day is to devote a few minutes to an activity that grounds you. That might be meditation, prayer, saying affirmations or doing positive visualizations. You could write in a journal or write morning pages. Others may prefer a more active practice like yoga or tai chi or even an early morning run.
Give yourself permission to start the morning slowly.
Create a margin between waking up and leaving the house so that you are not frazzled before you even get out the door. You may need to make some changes to create this space, like getting up a little earlier (and going to bed earlier), or creating an evening routine that frees up some of your morning time.
One small change that has big impact is to make your day’s to-do list before you go to bed. Knowing your day’s activities are already planned out allows your brain rest more thoroughly while you sleep and you won’t wake up to that swirl of things you have to remember to do.
Breakfast is an important meal. When you don’t eat from dinner until lunch the next day your body is triggered to conserve energy. This means you will burn calories more slowly, have less energy, and feel more mentally foggy. You will also be starving by mid morning, which may lead you to make poor food choices or overeat. Eating a balanced and healthy breakfast will fuel you through a productive morning.
Experts recommend breakfast include healthy carbs, some fiber and some protein. Within those guidelines your options are plenty, from fast hand-held meals to sit-down cooked options. If you are like me and like breakfast to be something you don’t have to think much about, consider prepping a week’s worth of healthy options on the weekend.
Consider where your current trouble spots are and plan ahead to avoid them or smooth them out. Some ideas:
- lay out clothes the night before or on Sunday for the whole week
- pack backpacks and gym bags the night before
- prep breakfast ahead of time
- make lunches while cleaning up dinner
- set your alarm 15 minutes before you really need to get up, or put it across the room
- get to bed an hour earlier if you want to wake an hour earlier
If changing your morning routine will impact others, let them know what you are doing and why. Chances are your family will want to support you, but they won’t know what you need unless you tell them.
Be Gentle With Yourself
It is tempting to start fresh with an entirely new routine, but too much change too quickly will be hard to maintain. Start slowly, and incorporate new parts of your routine one at a time. If you want to get up earlier, set your alarm just 15 minutes earlier the first week, then another 15 minutes the next week. If you want to meditate but have never done so before, start with just five minutes. Remember that it takes time to build a habit. Forgive yourself if the process takes a few weeks before it feels comfortable.
You also may find that some parts of your new routine sounded good, but don’t work well in practice. It is your morning – change it up if you need to! What works for someone else may not work at all for you. Give yourself permission to experiment and make changes until you find what works for you and supports the day that you want to have.
What does your morning routine look like? What one thing would you like to change this week?