Part of me wanted to shout about this from the rooftops weeks ago. That’s how excited I was.
But, I wanted to wait to see if this new thing wasn’t just a temporary boost – a little oomph that would fade and I would end up back where I so often am, feeling disorganized, frustrated, and worn out.
Running around with no end goals or guideposts in place is exhausting, right?
How do we know if we’re even accomplishing ANYTHING?
And as moms, we need those success markers sometimes, I think. So much of what we’re doing is on desperate repeat – dishes, laundry, bedtime, repeat …
So much of our work takes time to show itself. Are we raising wonderful, creative, loving people, or will our beloved little ones grow up and turn into Catfish villains?
A solid morning routine
And so today, finally, I want to share with you the morning routine that has changed everything.
I’m trying to think if that’s hyperbole, and I really don’t think it is. Having a solid morning routine has helped me to feel more organized, more put-together, which makes me more confident.
It’s helped me feel stronger, calmer and it feels easier to deal with the constant disruptions (eruptions) that happen during a mom’s day.
So yes – I’m going with it.
This routine has been gold for me. Maybe it will be for you too?
Or maybe my routine will serve as a template for you to create your own golden routine.
In fact, I’m making a free printable to help you do just that.
>>Grab it here<<
I thrive with routine, but I am terrible at creating and implementing routines. Which means in order to a create a brand new, successful, sustainable morning routine, I started by cruising around Pinterest for about a week.
Honestly – it’s all an algorithm over there, so the minute you click on one routine post, 7,000 more auto-populate (along with ads for bras and Activia yogurt.)
This is when I started a little larceny.
When I saw a morning idea that sounded good, I stole it and put it on a list.
I did this for a while. It was a good list.
A BIG list.
Then I considered what I needed.
I needed – no, I wanted more intentional mornings.
Clearly, the entire list was not for me. If Essentialism has taught me anything, it’s that we have to be careful what we bring in.
It’s like our cars, right? They’re not very large. So we bring in 22 travel mugs and 15 books and 11 granola bars, plus things our kids need – whoops – and it’s all overwhelming.
Whatever we say yes to, it means we’re saying no to other things.
And I have other things that are important like work and homeschooling my kids and cooking meals and literally herding cats. I’m sure you have your things too.
So Rule No. 1 is to not create an insane, unattainable morning routine.
If you can’t get enough sleep, or if you are trying to fit in too much before your kids wake up, it’s going to take about 3 days for the whole routine to seem like too much and like maybe it was a bad idea in the first place, and on Day 4 maybe you’ll just sleep in until someone wakes you by handing you their diaper.
Routines and Seasons
Speaking of which I am no longer in the diaper days, but I remember them well, and back then, if some lady on the internet would have shared a routine like I’m about to share, I would have told her to eat a glass salad.
It’s important to keep in mind that life has seasons, and in some seasons you’ll be able to do more in certain areas, and in others you’ll need to do less in those areas and that’s just being human.
So another option is that you can break up your morning routine, and make it more of a daily routine.
I actually think this can be helpful for moms with small kids and moms doing a lot of hands-on homeschooling with their kids.
Some kids need A LOT. And this past year especially, we’ve all given a lot as parents.
So it might be handy to add in smaller routines throughout the day to help maintain your energy, your patience and your, um … sanity.
Maybe you exercise for 10-20 minutes in the morning, read a book after lunch, and hide in the tub before bed.
Whatever YOU need. However YOU can get it.
Speaking of which, we all have different needs and different things that fill us up.
Take some time to consider what you need. Envision your perfect morning, then remember that you have a dog and three cats and two kids and the plumber is coming and someone has to make breakfast.
Still, I highly recommend doing what I did and taking a bit of time to brainstorm what could help you best.
They say that what you do in the morning sets the tone for the day, and sometimes I want to punch people who say things like that, but as much as it’s possible, it is nice to imagine a pleasant morning, and see what we can do to make that happen as regularly as possible.*
*Not all the time because 6 months ago someone made dentist appointments at 8:15. Ahem.
It’s starts with waking
Here’s the part where I tell you you need to stop using your phone as your alarm clock, but don’t worry, what I really mean is stop using your phone’s built-in, obnoxious-arse ringtones to wake up.
None of them are pleasant. Most are like some kind of MacGyver-era count-down until the nuclear reactor blows.
They’re startling, and that’s NOT a good way to wake up.
Instead, I have two options. The first is to download some pleasant ringtones or an album that is calming, and use the songs on the album as ringtones. My friend Carla recommended this album and it’s the best for ringtonification.
Another option is a peaceful alarm clock that wakes you up slowly and gently using light and/or friendly noise. My mom bought me this one for my birthday and I love it. It’s also a sleep machine, reading light and plays meditations and simple yoga routines.
I think my Hatch helps me get to sleep better too, and that sets me up for better mornings.
The first thing I do
The first thing I do when I wake up to my Nordic Sunrise and Tibetan Bells (really!) is think of 10 things I am grateful for.
I know that sounds like a lot, but it continues to get easier. And I often list some of the same things.
Don’t worry – it’s not a pop quiz, it’s just a really lovely way to start your day.
Research shows that gratitude helps release dopamine and serotonin, two feel-good hormones.
It also, “regulates the sympathetic nervous system that activates our anxiety responses, and at the psychological level, it conditions the brain to filter the negative ruminations and focus on the positive thoughts,” according to PositivePsychology.com.
And it takes less than a minute and you can literally do it with your eyes closed.
This is when my morning routine really kicks into gear.
I brush my teeth, <— (I have a toothbrush crush), put in my contacts and wash my face, then I spend 5 minutes tidying my bedroom, opening my windows or shades to let in light, and then light a candle.
I feed the cats and start tea, then bring my little teapot and a mug upstairs and meditate.
My favorite app for meditation is Insight Timer.
Next, I journal for three pages.
I like these simple notebooks because they are less expensive than a hardbound version (plus you get three in a set) and if I get really angsty, I can toss it in the fireplace when I’m done.
(I journal in bed, so I use a lap desk. These are also great for portable work and homeschooling.)
I got the three pages idea from this book, but you could do one page if you are short on time or skip this all together. I just feel like getting feelings out on paper is really cathartic for me.
After that, I take my medicine, vitamins and have breakfast. (Usually a smoothie – use this link for $25 off Daily Harvest.)
Always have a daily to-do list
Then I start on my daily to do list.
I don’t always get to everything on my to-do list, and I purposely keep my to-do lists small. But if I don’t have one at all, it’s a hot mess in a dress situation, so I make one every day.
Is it that easy?
Yes. That’s it.
My new morning routine
- Wake up gently
- Think of 10 things I’m grateful for
- Brush teeth, contacts and wash face
- Tidy room, let in light
- Make tea
- Have breakfast
- Take medication and vitamins
- Create a to-do list
All of this – especially the gentle start and the to-do list, set me up to have a brighter, clearer, less stressful day.
I know that as my kids get going and I check email, things are going to get busy. But with a good start, it all feels more manageable.
How to use your phone to make your morning better
Speaking of which, you’ll notice I don’t check social media or email until after my morning routine.
This itself has helped so much.
I used to wake up and it was like a starter pistol had gone off. I was instantly overwhelmed by questions and to-dos.
Now I only use my phone for my meditation app, to check my calendar when making my to-do list, and listening to playlists.
What to do next
Wonder what to do next? Download the free printable here and start brainstorming:
Remember, it may take a bit of time to craft what works best for you.
But stay at it, before long, you’ll have better mornings that will lead to more peaceful days.
Big news! Kara’s book More Than Enough is now available in paperback: