I know, I know. You read “morning routine” and groaned (internally or maybe out loud) at the thought of adding anything extra into your morning, which you KNOW would require waking up at least a little bit earlier. Unless, of course, you already have a morning routine, in which case you agreed with the title 100% and already know what a game-changer that is for your day and your life.
Here’s the deal: Our day will not start out well and therefore will continue to not go as well if it begins with hitting the snooze three times, fighting with your spouse or children for space in the kitchen or bathroom because you’re trying to rush to get ready, and then scrambling to get out the door to be at work or school on time. Nevermind what you’ll likely forget to grab in the rush, or that you won’t have time to stick with your goals of packing a healthy lunch (for you or the kids), squeezing in a little “me” time, or starting that daily prayer/meditation that you know would be so good for you. (Those are all hypothetical situations and not at all based on my own personal experience. Ha ha.)
I truly believe that to create a “blissful space” and a happy life, one of the things that will help us get there is a consistent morning routine. If you change one thing this month as we redefine our blissful spaces, this may be the most impactful.
I’m a perpetual snooze-hitter so I get it. #thestruggleisreal But, though I don’t always get up at 5:00 am like I’d like, I am getting up no later than 5:30 which means an extra 30 minutes each day from where I was last year. I can tell you that when I have pushed myself to get up the first time the alarm goes off (or limiting myself to one snooze ;)), I benefit in these ways:
- My morning and therefore my whole day is more relaxed, less stressed, and less likely to include me losing patience and yelling at my child.
- I am able to include at least a little “self-care”, such as journaling and daily devotions or prayer time. Anytime that we can feed our souls and nurture ourselves, we are giving ourselves a gift that will spread to others around us throughout the day. We can’t help anyone else if we are depleted and having nothing else to give. Spending time in quiet prayer also helps me center my day around God, and challenges that may arise are more likely to be handled in a calm, thoughtful way rather than out of a stress-induced snap reaction. This may also be a great time to squeeze in some exercise before your day gets away from you and you fill it with excuses as to why you can’t exercise today.
- I am able to spend a few minutes in my planner, mentally mapping out my day, and adding in any to-do’s that I had not yet entered. When I do this, I feel more “in the game” and not worried that I’ll forget an appointment or let anything slip through the cracks.
- Because my evenings are also busy and I usually get to a point of exhaustion that leaves me not wanting to spend one. more. minute. in the kitchen, getting up early also allows me time to pack lunches for my daughter and myself. We both have skin issues which have proven themselves to be linked very much to what we eat, so this is a priority for me, but one that has often proved difficult to do. With the exception of maybe two days since this school year started, I have been consistent with taking my own (healthy) lunches, and Faith has only eaten school lunch once, maybe twice, each week. That is in large part due to weekly meal-planning, but also to a consistent morning routine. I think taking lunch saves us money in the long-run, but also makes it possible to eliminate that much more processed and not-so-real food from our diets.
- One of the most rewarding things for me, though, is having the opportunity to just SIT for a few minutes in the quiet, before everyone is up and moving. My day always includes other people. I don’t have a commute where I can enjoy quiet time with my thoughts in the car, I am surrounded at school by 21 pre-k students most of the day, and my husband and I are pretty much on the same sleep schedule…and we have a small home with no locks on the doors, so I can’t even escape to a quiet bath. Whether my moment of solitude is spent journaling and prayer or just enjoying a cup of coffee or tea, I am always so thankful to myself for having gotten my butt out of bed so that I could take a few minutes to breathe and be alone.
Courtney Carver, blogger at Be More With Less, goes into the why’s and how-to’s of establishing a good morning routine in her book, Soulful Simplicity, which I’ve been reading lately. (I recommend pre-ordering her book and I’ll be sharing an interview with her in December when the book launches!) One of her recommendations, and something that goes against my natural “all-or-nothing” method, is to gradually ease into a routine by getting up 5 minutes earlier each day or week. Work up to an extra half hour, and I have a feeling you’ll be happily surprised with the extra things you’re able to accomplish, how much better you’ll feel, and how much more relaxed your entire day will be.
How you spend that extra time is up to you and your priorities. What will fill your cup the most? What have you struggled to squeeze into your schedule but know you need to do? Start with one thing and once you’ve established a good habit with that, try adding in another. I can’t speak for everyone on this, but here are some things that I think are best avoided first thing in the morning as they will only waste your time and not be fulfilling for you:
- Checking email or social media – For me these wind up being distracting time-wasters and it’s so easy to flit from one thing to the next and leave feeling like I never really accomplished anything. There will always be time for this later and in most cases, nothing needs your urgent attention in your personal inbox or on Facebook.
- Starting the day out busily working around the house – While this may free up time for you later, I recommend not hitting the ground running with laundry or dishes or other housework until you’ve first taken some time to have a glass of water, take your vitamins or supplements (and in my case oil up ;)), and spend at least 15 minutes for yourself. If you don’t do it first thing, your day may get away from you without ever taking time to give yourself a little love.
- Watching TV or checking the news – The TV isn’t on in our house in the morning…it would distract Faith from getting ready and I prefer to wake slowly and quietly. 😉 We also tend to not watch the news, both because of schedules and it not being a priority, but also because (at least for me) the content tends to be depressing and scary and NOT how I want to start my day. Being informed is good, because others in the world need our prayers and support, but it may not be the best thing to do first thing in the morning. Like social media, this can also be a time-waster and not something that will fill your cup for the day ahead.
Personally daily journaling has been one of the best things for my day (you can read about it in this post here…I also included some printables to prompt your own morning journal writing). If you aren’t sure where to start with your daily routine, I think it’s a great place to begin.
Changing our lives to be more relaxed, more productive, and more fulfilling is just as much about our routines and being intentional with our time as it is about decluttering and organizing drawers and closets. (Maybe more so.) Start with your morning routine and see how it impacts the rest of the day and your motivation to tackle those other projects!
If you have a morning routine or have things you want to implement into a routine, please comment below! Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all of the 31 Days posts (only some will make the blog!).