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I’ll admit — I am not naturally a morning person and if I didn’t have a family to take care of, my morning routine would probably look something like this:
Wake up when I feel like it, shower (alone without kids asking for breakfast), take supplements, drink coffee, go for a walk, eat breakfast, then start working.
My current state in life doesn’t allow me to have such a leisurely morning routine. In fact, all those things tend to be an unspoken message to my children to come ask for something!
But because of this, a morning routine is incredibly important for a productive day. I sometimes get asked how I “do it all” (which is simple enough to answer, because I don’t) but making the most of the morning hours goes a long way toward a productive and relatively stress-free day.
A Realistic Morning Routine for Moms
Oh the ever-elusive morning routine … there are books about it and websites that sing its praises, and it always seems like such a great idea… until the alarm goes off. And while these tools are great, I felt like a more practical resource for moms like us was needed.
Most of the books and articles I’ve read about creating a morning routine talk about “thinking about what you need to get done that day” and “spending 30 minutes of quiet time meditation” or even “follow the exact same routine at the same time each day.”
Those are all well and good … unless you have a nursing baby, a potty-training toddler, an early morning dentist/doctor/vet appointment, or someone peed in his/her bed or spilled a gallon of maple syrup on the kitchen floor before you even woke up. (*Ahem.*)
Figuring Out Your Own Routine
I’m nowhere close to perfect at keeping a morning routine, but when I do, I definitely have a better day. Of course, our days vary quite a bit depending on scheduled activities and just by the nature of having young children around, but I’ve found that a 30-minute routine in the morning is doable if I plan ahead.
These are the factors that make the difference for me and I work everything else around these:
1. Get Up Before the Kids
To actually accomplish this routine, I find that I have to wake up before the kids by at least 30-45 minutes, which is easier said than done at times. Like I said, I’m not a morning person by nature and I don’t like getting up any earlier than I have to (aka, when the first child wakes up and asks for breakfast).
I am definitely a happier mom when I get some time to focus and have quiet before the hustle of the kids’ morning routine, and the early wake up is worth it.
2. Lemon Water
I’ve written before about the benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning, and how this can give you an energy boost, help promote good digestion and clear skin, and flush the body of waste that accumulated overnight. This water usually gives me a boost of energy and makes me less likely to want to head back to bed.
3. Pray, Journal, or Meditate in Natural Light
Focusing my thoughts through prayer, journaling, and meditation really helps me gain direction for my day and prepare for the chaos when the kids wake up. I’ve also tried the five minute journal in the morning and it is a quick way to journal effectively in a short amount of time while focusing on gratitude.
I try to do this outside in natural light if possible, or around a sun lamp (link to mine below). This was a tip from my doctor and the purpose is to help correct cortisol levels and balance the adrenals.
Movement of some kind helps get the blood flowing. For me, this varies by day and may be as simple as stretching, rebounding, taking the dog for a walk, or may be sprints or swinging a kettlebell. It just depends on the day.
There are so many benefits to regular movement, and getting your blood flowing first thing helps you have more energy for the rest of the day. For me, this is the best time to workout before the kids wake up so I’m not dodging toddlers while trying to do a workout DVD or taking a parade of kids on a morning walk.
If I don’t shower before the kids wake up, it is usually a dry shampoo kind of day because there often isn’t time the rest of the day. When I do shower, I also dry brush before showering for an energy boost and softer skin.
6. My “Most Important Thing(s)”
Several books I’ve read have suggested figuring out the single most important task that must be done that day and writing it down so that you can tackle it first.
It is a great idea, but a single task was never realistic for me, so I always write my top three tasks for the day. Sometimes, they are as simple as finishing a few loads of laundry, or writing a blog post, but writing these down really helps them get done.
At this point, the kids are usually awake and I start preparing breakfast. I try to prepare something protein-rich that contains at least one vegetable. Check out my list of recipes if you need some healthy breakfast ideas.
How to Stay Motivated to Keep the Routine
I find it is often easier to “do it all” than to try to do some of it. It’s easier to have a schedule and clean the house, teach the kids, cook three meals, blog, work outside, and read a book all in one day than to only get one thing done and have everything else looming over me.
It’s the reason that baseball teams are more likely to hit when they’ve already been hitting, and athletes are more likely to win if they’ve already been winning.
Action breeds motivation, not the other way around.
The journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step, but sometimes that first step (in any direction) is the most important.
An object in motion stays in motion (thanks Newton) and it is easier to adjust the course mid-step than to start moving in the first place.
So how do we apply this? How do we take the first step without waiting for another Monday? Pick baby steps and make them one at a time.
- Don’t try to change your diet, lifestyle, and schedule completely overnight. That’s not practical and is completely overwhelming. Baby steps are key to preventing total mom burnout!
- Decide on one baby step and start there. Drink lemon water, wake up a little earlier, quit drinking soda, walk for 15 minutes a day. Just make a small change and focus on that. To make sure it sticks, try tracking it with a habit app or in a journal. Once you’ve done that for a few weeks, introduce another small change.
- If you find yourself procrastinating, ask yourself why? These anti-procrastination strategies can help you get to the cause and combat it.
Make a list of the changes you eventually want to implement and work backward to implement them.
Plan the Day
I’ve found that I’m much more efficient if I have a pre-planned schedule and checklist for each day. Creating a rough daily outline enables me to focus on those items that are most important and assign chores to the kids to help get everything accomplished that needs to be done for home management.
How I Manage Our Daily Routine
I keep all the information I need to run our household and stay healthy in one place. I have lists for cleaning, organization, major chores, etc. and I store all of this in the notes app on my phone for easy reference. While I used to keep everything on printed pages in a binder (which I termed “the football”), I now find myself using my iPhone to keep track of these items since I always have it with me, and especially for meal planning, which is so easy now!
In this binder/my phone I keep:
- my daily outline & schedule
- important tasks & top 3 things to accomplish
- weekly routine of cleaning & other tasks
- monthly items that occur once a month
- meal plan for the week
- my health journal
- room cleaning checklists
- daily chores
I recommend printing out a list of daily tasks and referring to it often (or keeping them organized on your phone for easy reference). Mine include: Daily Outline Sheet, Daily Chores Sheet, Weekly Routine Sheet, Monthly Routine Sheet, Meal Plan Sheet, and Room Cleaning Sheet, along with my daily “To-Do List” Sheet. (Get all of those printables here.)
What My Typical Day (Usually) Looks Like
As I mentioned earlier, my daily routine can vary from day to day, but it typically includes some of the following:
My Morning Routine
Around 7 a.m.: Wake up and drink a glass of warm water with lemon or salt. Take a swig of sesame oil or coconut oil for oil pulling. Dry brush skin and hop in to shower (or do a sauna session with the hubby if time allows before showering).
Get out of shower, spit out oil, rinse with salt water, and brush teeth with remineralizing toothpaste. If needed, I also use a lotion bar on my skin. This is also when I make time to get some wave vibration and use my red light to get my lymphatic system functioning optimally.
If I don’t have time for a shower, I use homemade dry shampoo and DIY beach waves spray and throw on some homemade deodorant. Since almost everything is homemade, my bathroom counter is filled with glass jars filled with homemade products … not fancy, but it works. If you’d like to try some of the DIY beauty recipes I use, you can find them all here.
7:45ish: Then, I spend some time outside or in front of the 10,000 lux light while I pray/meditate and journal. (This doesn’t happen every day but it is really helpful when it does).
Family Morning Routine
8:00 a.m.: Family breakfast time! I try to cook a protein-rich breakfast (usually one of these recipes). We take most supplements at breakfast time, so I give these out too.
8:30-11:00 a.m.: Morning time includes exercise with the kids, school time, time outside for the vitamin D/barefoot time, etc. Also includes morning chores for all of us.
Keeping a solid routine the rest of the day makes a morning routine possible. Our routine doesn’t end at noon …
12:00 p.m.: Lunch time is usually some form of salad with protein or leftovers from the night before.
1:00-4:00 p.m.: Afternoon is work time and time to get the house clean(ish), fold laundry, and play with kids. I also usually make any needed household supplies during this time or do regular kitchen jobs like brewing kombucha or water kefir, restocking my pantry order, etc.
Evening and Bedtime Routine
5:30 p.m.: Family dinner time. We try to eat early to give our bodies time to digest before the kids go to bed.
6:15 p.m.: Family time until the kids go to bed. We all do evening chores and bathe and get PJs on. About an hour before bed we dim the lights and start putting aways electronics to start winding down for sleep. Often, we take magnesium and drink herbal teas in the evening before bed. I also rub magnesium oil on kids (and my own) feet before bed to help improve sleep and take a probiotic before bed most nights.
8:00 p.m.: Kids go to bed. The husband and I get some time to talk, and I try a few nights a week at least to take some time for a little more self-care. I might take a bath for relaxation after the kids go to bed or do another red light therapy session to wind down.
Of course, this day just includes the health aspects and doesn’t include the running kids to activities, extra chores that need to be done, appointments, etc., but it gives the very basics I try to stick to daily. Most of these extra things happen in the afternoon window so they don’t interfere with our routine too much.
Read more about my approach to building a nighttime routine here.
Bottom Line: If At First You Don’t Succeed …
Try, try again!
With homeschooling and working from home, our routine allows us to get everything done with the least amount of stress. This exact routine won’t work for you, and it took me quite a while through different stages of kids to find what’s working now.
Hopefully these examples will be helpful in finding your own optimal morning routine. The important is to start experimenting and stick with what works for your situation and stage in life.
If you’re looking for a little extra help resetting or creating a routine that works for a family, the book A Mother’s Rule of Life has been extremely helpful to me in finding balance and sticking to a routine in all aspects of my life. I’ve found this book to be beneficial to all mothers for the organization and daily routine suggestions.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Sheila Kilbane, MD, a board-certified pediatrician, trained in integrative medicine. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Do you have a morning routine? What does it look like?