Before I crafted a regular morning routine, I found myself feeling like a victim in my own life, reacting to the things and people around me. Throughout the day I would end up quietly seething with resentment on the inside, fuming that I wasn’t getting the alone time or exercise time that my introverted soul desired. Then one day, I had the revelation that I am a powerful person, in charge of my own life, and I started to make time to prioritize the things I needed and wanted. Creating this new pattern took thought, effort, and retraining of my old habits. It didn’t happen easily or overnight, but it was worth it. For me, doing the things I desired in the morning meant waking up earlier before the kids. I’m not here to tell you that is what you have to do. I want to tell you to know what is important to you and organize your life accordingly. For me, being able to have some alone time and exercise was well worth sacrificing the extra hour of sleep. For you, an extra hour of sleep may be what your mind and body need most. If so, you have the power and freedom to make that conscious decision. Creating a morning routine is not a one-size-fits-all formula to implement, it involves taking a thoughtful look at your actual priorities and bringing your life into alignment with them.
There are so many decisions that pop up throughout the day, I often end up with decision fatigue before a day is over, so having a set morning routine is like an anchor keeping me from drifting off to sea as the day starts spinning. When things in my life feel like they are crazy my soul finds comfort in having a regular rhythm of what to expect at the start of each day.
Just as you have to train yourself and create new patterns to start your morning routine it will take some adjusting for the other people in your house as well. When I first started, my kids were used to me being at their beck and call to get them breakfast and meet all their demands as they threw them at me. When I first started my goal was to sit quietly on the couch and finish most of a warm cup of coffee before running around and doing things for others. At first, my kids would ask me for 1,000 things during this time because they weren’t used to me doing this. Each morning I would have to kindly remind them I would help them after I finished my coffee. Overtime something magical happened and they (for the most part) started to respect me and my time as they saw me respecting myself.
As you begin to craft your own morning routine, think about these principles:
Less is more. A morning routine does not need to be long, start early, or be dramatic. In fact, less is more. The key is to pick a few small things that are important to you and that are actually achievable. The worst thing you can do is romanticize some long, complex, ideal routine for yourself and then start every single day off feeling guilt and shame that your mornings aren’t looking how you want them to look.
Be kind to yourself. One of my favorite podcasters, Kendra at The Lazy Genius, defines a morning routine as “Kindly opening the day with the purpose of gradually increasing my productive energy.”
Be realistic. Start with just a few minutes, with one simple thing you can implement, then you can always build from there later.
The essential elements for me in a morning routine are:
During all the chaos and events of the last few months, my morning routine has helped me to start each day on a positive note and feel grounded before the day gets in full swing. What my routine looks like changes depending on the season, but in each particular season, I always have some semblance of a regular pattern to start my days that includes at least a few minutes of each of the elements below.
1. Alone time. This introvert needs some alone time to charge up before heading into a busy day with my extroverted kids.
2. Spiritual time. Depending on the season this will vary between a time of prayer, reading the Bible, or completing some type of Bible study book, although the activities change, at least one of these is always a part of my routine.
3. Planning for the day. Each morning I review my day planner and complete my daily journal prioritizing my tasks and focus for the day. I feel calmer and prepared when I use a few minutes each morning to think through what needs to be done, what I can actually handle, and anything that might need to be put off to the following day.
4. Exercise. Exercise is very important to me. It helps me burn off any steam, helps keep my body healthy, and stabilizes my mood. This currently looks like me squeezing in an early morning run on weekdays before my husband leaves for work. During the school year, it looks like me going to the gym after dropping my boys off at school. Either way, I’ve noticed I feel better emotionally and physically if I make time to do something physical toward the beginning of my day. It’s just one small way in a life spent so often caring for the needs of others that I prioritize myself and take a little bit of time to invest in my health and well being.
Questions to ask yourself when crafting your own routine:
-What morning activities make me feel like myself?
-What guides me in a positive start to the day?
-What morning activities make me not feel like myself?
-What morning activities stress me out?
Ideas of things you might want to include in a morning routine:
-wash your face
-make the bed
-listen to music
-review your planner and make a to-do list
-complete a gratitude journal
-drink a cup of coffee or tea
-sit on the porch in silence and enjoy the view
Above all else, remember that a morning routine is meant to bring peace and joy to your life rather than the stress of trying to meet some standard. If you try one routine and find yourself feeling more stressed than refreshed take a step back, re-evaluate, and try again.