You already have a morning routine. A few tweaks to it can make your day—and your life—so much better.
- Do something uplifting.
Start your day with a positive mindset by doing something that refreshes you. Try not to check your phone or the news first thing; instead, listen to music you love, read something inspiring, meditate, or journal.
Naomi Gottlieb-Miller is mother of a two-year-old and five-year-old and owner of Healthy Conscious Mama, where she teaches moms how to take care of themselves. She says, “Have at least one specific thing that you do just for you. It’s important that it be non-negotiable—you do it no matter what. Whether you’re on vacation, or not feeling well, or the kids are sick—you still do this one thing because it’s part of your own sanity-saving practice. It’s very powerful to feel that satisfaction of having done it, to be able to think, ‘I’ve accomplished something already today. I started on target and completed that, so I can handle these other things too.’”
Stay committed, and be flexible. Says Gottlieb-Miller, “We tend to get pulled out of our rhythm and then we stop. The key is to go back and finish—to keep going after we’re interrupted. We’re parents; there will always be interruptions. We just have to work around them.”
Mary Walker, a homeschooling mom and writer, says, “With babies and small children, routines change so quickly. At times I’ve felt sad or hopeless about not being able to maintain mine. If I were to go back, I’d tell myself that anything I can do each morning is enough. That the thing might change, but the commitment to taking the time (even two minutes, leaning against the kitchen bench with a cup of tea alone) is like throwing open a window. And if we can stay flexible about what it is and what it looks like, we can begin to carve out more and more time for ourselves and recognize more easily what we need and want.”
- Teach your children to respect your time.
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to babies, but you can start at the toddler stage. Gottlieb-Miller says, “I have worked hard to train [my children] that this is Mommy’s time—it’s OK to be in here with me eating your breakfast or playing quietly, but not fighting or whining. I’ve been teaching that intentionally since they were little. Of course if it’s an emergency or they truly need me, I’m here, but they know not to bother me unless it’s important. Part of my routine is teaching my kids: this is my routine; what’s yours? My daughter’s routine is that she eats breakfast, brushes teeth, gets dressed, and plays quietly.”
If your mornings are too hectic, steal the time. Founder of MotherArts Autumn Sanders says, “When my kids were small I did the five-minute version [of my ritual] however and wherever I could—locked in the bathroom sometimes. And if I was running late and couldn’t get to it first, I sat in the car for an extra few minutes after dropping them off at school.”
- Cultivate mindfulness.
If you can’t possibly fit anything else in your day, repurpose something you already do. Being mindful during daily activities can have the same restorative effect as a morning ritual. Here are some specific ideas:
- Before you get out of bed, take five slow, deep breaths. Mentally repeat a calming word like “peace.”
- While you’re nursing, washing the dishes, or folding laundry, say a lovingkindness meditation: “May I be well. May I be happy. May I be filled with peace.” Count your blessings. Sing your favorite song to yourself (or aloud!).
- Make your shower a retreat. Tanja Richter, Reiki master and massage therapist, says, “I pay attention to the water hitting my head and streaming downward, and picture it washing all the negative stuff out of me and down the drain. I imagine the fresh water replenishing me with new blessings for the day. It’s short but very powerful.”
And remember: it won’t always be like this. Children grow up and get more independent. You will have more time for yourself in the future. Hang in there!
- Streamline your morning by preparing the night before.
You may be tired, but just a few minutes of prepping will make the next day go much more smoothly. Set everything out for breakfast, fix lunches, put out clothes and any items that need to go to work or school the next day … whatever you can do to create some breathing room in the morning.
- Get outdoors.
Now that you’ve created a little space in your morning, spend a few minutes outside with your children—go for a quick walk or let them run around the backyard. Being in nature is instantly calming. And getting sunlight first thing has many benefits: it helps regulate sleep cycles, spurs vitamin D production, and triggers the release of serotonin, boosting your mood. Plus, it’s always good for kids to burn off some energy!
A morning ritual refuels you every day. Even tiny actions can have an enormous positive impact. And remember, it’s not selfish. Taking care of yourself makes you better able to take care of others.