This isn’t going to be a typical morning routine story. Yes, it will discuss the importance of waking up early and setting yourself up for success, but not with a super-productive, unattainable approach. Sure, I’d love to be like Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow; waking up at 5 a.m. to meditate, do yoga and drink green juice, but that’s not my reality. I assume it’s not yours either.
Growing up, I never was a morning person. I’m still not. My energy and creativity kick into high gear around 10 p.m. every night (much to the annoyance of my husband). Mornings have never been my strong suit. However, being married to a morning person and having two young children means that early mornings aren’t negotiable. No matter how late I stay up, I will still be woken up bright and early. It didn’t take long to realize this wasn’t healthy. A grumpy mommy means a grumpy family. I needed to change my ways.
One thing that’s helped is that my daughter has to be at school by 8 a.m. While that doesn’t seem like a positive, it means I’m forced to get up early and get everyone out the door by 7:45 a.m. My kids come in and wake us up every morning; often before the sun rises. In order for my morning to run smoothly, I have to prepare the night before—make lunches, lay out clothes and pack the bags. As much as I loathe doing this when I’m exhausted in the evenings, waiting until the morning causes us to have more stress and nagging. In the mornings, my husband and I look like we’re performing a choreographed dance routine. We weave around each other in figure eights: while he cooks their breakfast, I’m brushing their hair; while he’s getting dressed for work, I’m getting them dressed. This goes on for an hour until my husband is off to work and I’m loading them in the car to go to school.
These first few hours of my morning are a chaotic whirlwind. It’s a time where I’m productive and creative. There is no time for me. Also, this school year, my kids started coming home by 2:30 p.m. a few days a week, which means my work day is very short. In the beginning, I was rushing them off to school and then diving right into work when I got home. I would work furiously until they got home. Some days, never getting outside, never moving from my desk, even skipping lunch when I felt like it would take too much time. Again, I was stuck in a schedule that wasn’t healthy for me or my family. Grumpy mommy was rearing her head again.
I decided that I needed to create a micro-morning routine that I could do once I arrived back home from drop-off. Because my workday is so short, I can’t run off to Pilates every day. That just won’t work. Instead, I do a few things when I get home that relax me, center me and prepare me to start working. It’s a little different every day, but this is was it looks like.
On my way home from dropping off the kids, I listen to a podcast. I continue to listen when I get home while I pick up the messes left in the wake of our early morning. I also get some household chores started. I pick up the kitchen and empty the dishwasher, I start a load of laundry, I fluff the couch and make beds. I know this doesn’t sound like quality “me” time before work, but I enjoy it. I can’t work productively in a messy house with all of the daily chores looming over my head. Doing these things each morning centers me. It only takes me about 30 minutes if I work quickly.
Two days out of the week, I will follow up my morning speed-clean with a quick home workout. Working out is really important to me, and if I skip it, I feel anxious. While working out used to be about looking good, now it’s all about feeling good. I wish I could do it more than two to three times a week, but with my current lifestyle, that’s all I can manage. These are some of my favorite at-home workouts.
On the days I don’t work out, I like to spend 45 minutes doing activities that help spark my creativity. Things like: writing in my journal, reading, making a mood board, etc. It’s easy to skip this, but I’ve found that when I do, I struggle with creative ideas for work. It reminds me why I got into my business in the first place.
This is typically when I start my official workday. I check my emails, have conversations with my team on Slack and start writing and editing posts.
I work until my kids get home and then I transition into my mom routine. I don’t usually take a lunch break because my morning takes a big chunk out of my day. I know this isn’t the morning routine you usually read about, but this works for me. I hope this inspires you to create your own morning routine. Play around with some ideas and tweak it as you go. I’m sure that after a while, it will be your saving grace!