Have you ever felt like the day just slips away from you? What is the difference between those days and the days that you feel on top of it? Everyone probably has a different answer but for me, having a consistent morning routine makes all the difference. Now, I’ll be honest with you, creating and sticking with a Morning Routine is not easy and it’s doubly not easy if you are a mom of little ones. That being said, a morning routine – no matter how simple it is – can create just the right amount of stability to really anchor your day. I’m not talking “productivity” necessarily, that comes and goes, ebbs and flows like the tides (and your commitment to organization.) I’m talking about connectivity – having the feeling that you are connected to something bigger than the spontaneity of your daily experiences. I’ll use my own Morning Routine as an example.
STEP 1: Reality Check
Tell the truth about your situation. Not how you would like it to be or how it should be, but how it is. Here is my reality:
I have a 3 year old and I’m 5 months pregnant. If I don’t go to bed at a reasonable hour (for me) or do too much the day before, I have trouble getting up the next morning. If I don’t get up in the morning and do my routine, I tend to have an off day. And when I say “off day,” it doesn’t mean that things go badly necessarily, it just means it doesn’t feel so great because I find myself waiting most of the day to do (get to) the things that are most important to me. And sadly, it often doesn’t happen at all. That is my True Story.
Step 2: What do I need to do to feel good?
Pick three things you need to feel good about yourself. Again, don’t choose things that you think you should be doing. You will be honoring the “should” many times during your day. The Morning Ritual is about YOU only. If nothing comes to mind, brainstorm a list. Don’t hold back, don’t edit. Once the list is written, circle 3 things that make you feel good about yourself. You can add more activities later. For now, pick only 1-3, you can build more into your routine later. Ideas: meditate for 5-10 minutes, read a chapter of my book, stretch, light candles on my altar, eat a healthy breakfast, write for 10 minutes in my journal, make a list of the 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks*) I need to do today, etc.
Here are my top three feel goods: 1) exercising 2) connecting to spirit 3) alone time … which leads me to 4) taking care of my body (water, vitamins, breakfast). There are other things that I do during my day but if I start off with these few things in the morning, I tend to feel good about myself and my day, regardless of what happens.
Step 3: Create & Commit to a Routine
Based off of the reality of your situation and the three things you need to feel good, how early do you need to get up? Again, start off with simple and easy steps. If you need to get up at 4:00 AM to accomplish your morning routine… and you currently get up at 6:30, it’s probably not going to be sustainable so think small and doable. Once you come up with a time you can manage, how many days a week can you commit too? Again, as you get used to a morning routine, you get get up earlier and add more. Here is my approach:
My Sun is in Aries so I love spontaneity, however, if I don’t plan the night before, I will spontaneously decided to sleep in when the alarm goes off. So for me, the most effect morning routine starts the night before. I lay out my clothes for my jog-walk in the bathroom next to a big glass of water, before I hit the sheets. I set my alarm and get up between 5:45 and 6:00 AM, before my family awakes. (Note: my 3 year old wakes between 6:30- 7:00 so I have to negotiate with my hubs or get up earlier – depending on what is going on.) Getting up and getting dress are the parts I don’t like the most, so I do those things first. Then I drink my water. After that, I light a candle on my altar, burn some sage to clean off the night, draw an Oracle Card for the day (currently working with Doreen Virtue’s Archangel Deck), listen for any messages, write a short prayer in my journal and express one thing I would like to experience that day. (NOTE: I do this part quickly without a lot of ceremony. If you are new to the magical part, consider doing one thing here. I’ll say more about this in Part 2.) Then I leave the house and take a brisk jog-walk for 30 minutes by myself (alone time!) If I do my morning routine… drinking more water, breakfast and vitamins are sure to follow. Sometimes my family is up by the time I get back, sometimes not. Either way, whatever follows that day seems to be okay because I took care of MYSELF FIRST. (Oxygen mask on yourself, before putting it on your child theory.) I am committed to doing this 5 days a week. My week is Sunday through Saturday. More often than not, I do it 6 days a week. Once it is a part of your life, you feel weird not doing it.
Besides feeling good about myself, which is a big deal, I get LOTS of great ideas on my walks. In the past, I used to get a lot of ideas while I lay in bed daydreaming in the morning but those days are few and far between with a 3 year old and spotty pregnancy sleeping. I am also less angry and resentful of “_______” (fill in the blank: my family, job, circumstances, etc.) and their needs (RE: Oxygen Mask Theory.) Finally, I get the obvious benefits of taking care of my health and spirit. TA DA!
For Part 2 – The Practical & Part 3 – The Magical, I’ll talk about how to deal when your morning routine gets squashed – either by you, your people, or circumstances beyond your control – with practical and magical steps. For now, start thinking about what things make you feel good about yourself and how you might be able to incorporate some of those things into a morning routine.
*Resources: Zen Habits
Images: 1) Addie Sleeping while I do my Morning Routine. Her cuteness actually makes it harder for me to get out of bed… but it’s worth it to feel good about myself and hopefully, be a better mommy for it. iPhone photo. 2) Birdhouses – an early morning snapshot of one of my favorite homes along my morning exercise route. iPhone.