The 20-minute Morning Routine That Transformed My Mood
As mom of a 10-year-old and 8-year-old, my days are packed and often involve the same pattern everyday. Wake up. School and work. Drive around shuffling kids to and from school and activities. Dinner. Laundry. Shower. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I recently noticed this — fatigue, I guess — from doing the same thing day in and day out. However, it’s not like we can really do much differently. This is just the season we’re in right now. While I can’t exactly change our schedule, I realized that a small change in my morning routine has a powerful impact on my mood.
Although self-care has been a buzzword for a while now, I underestimated its importance. Being stuck in our routine bothered me, but the idea of self-care stressed me out because that would interfere with my need to be constantly productive. Making time for myself couldn’t be a priority, at least not daily. That was, until I reframed what it would look like. I don’t need an hour-long bubble bath or a 45-minute yoga session.
I started waking up 20 minutes earlier. Sacrificing that sliver of sleep makes all the difference. I’m a wife, a mother, and a nurse. Ninety-nine percent of my life is spent taking care of other people, but I can’t pour from an empty cup. Here’s what I do in those 20 minutes to take care of myself before I take care of others and do all the things.
Make the bed.
This may not count as self-care for most, but for me, it matters so much. I thrive in a neat environment, and a made bed pulls the whole room together, instantly tidying things up. I don’t do throw pillows or blankets; I simply adjust and tuck the sheets and fluff the pillows. We’re talking about two minutes to bring order to a space. Plus, it’s a quick and easy way to give me a feeling of accomplishment.
Fix my face.
Three years ago, in the thick of quarantine, I got away from full-on makeup. Fast forward to today, as a nurse still working with a mask requirement, it’s hard to justify putting effort into a face that people don’t really see. Still, that leaves me feeling frumpy, so whether I’m going to work or hanging around the house on a day off, part of my morning pick-me-up consists of basic makeup application. I dab some concealer around my eyes and pop on some mascara (I love Big Ego and Tartelette, and my Hibrow lash lift eliminates any extra work). A friend introduced me to this multi-stick for some color. A fun knotted headband (loving this trend!) is so versatile that I can wear my hair down and wavy or use it to polish a messy bun. Finally — and this is my favorite part — a spritz of perfume. Daily wear gives me that little something extra. Even if I’m in a t-shirt and leggings driving carpool, I just feel good with a splash of my favorite eau de parfum. Totally presentable in 6 minutes. It feels good to feel good.
Drink a bottle of water.
It is my personal goal to drink 90 ounces of water daily, which is basically 3 of my CamelBak water bottles. I like to drink my first bottle in the morning. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something and motivates me to continue my hydration and healthy habits throughout the day.
Review the plan.
I keep an intense planner. I’m old-fashioned and don’t keep track of anything digitally. It brings me joy to see everything laid out all at once in big, colorful writing. With so many moving parts in my life, I can’t keep track of what is happening without a daily review. A quick glance in the morning gives me a chance to catch anything my husband or I may have overlooked and make any necessary arrangements. I also keep my To Do List in my planner and use this time to sort out which tasks can be accomplished now vs. later.
Get my mind right.
I’m not super religious, but I enjoy some prayer or reflection to get centered and start my day. If religion isn’t your thing, there are plenty of daily mindfulness resources. It doesn’t matter what you choose as long as you are intentional about mentally preparing for the day. As a Christian, I enjoy this little book. The readings are short and sweet, which keeps me engaged and focused since I don’t feel rushed. That, combined with a little prayer as I drive to work, sets me up for a good day. I’ve noticed that when I skip this part, my day starts off chaotic and bumpy, and never seems to get quite right.