“I’ll just hit snooze one more time…” We’ve all been there. Dreading waking up in the morning to start another day. So we stay in bed “just a little longer” until we’re late for work and scrambling to get up and out the door. I was guilty of it for pretty much my entire life. Actually, I’m still guilty of it sometimes. But if I’ve learned anything about myself over the past five years, it’s the importance of establishing a morning routine.
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Why is Routine Important?
People thrive on routine. They allow our minds and bodies to relax as we go through the motions of daily routines. Habits, such as eating, sleeping, and exercise, impact how we feel and function. When our body misses one of those key elements it can affect our physical and mental health. Creating routines helps ensure that we take care of ourselves. This helps us to be more productive, motivated, and happy.
Just like a nighttime routine helps our bodies calm down before bed, morning routines help them prepare for the day ahead. Routines can include the food we eat, how we dress, and our mental headspace. A solid morning routine helps start the day without stress or poor decisions. An example of how a morning routine helps your mental health is setting aside time each morning for meditation or quiet reflection. This may manifest as journaling a few things you are grateful for or creating a positive headspace. Both reduce stress and help start the day in a relaxing, mindful way.
My Morning Routine
Just like with my sleep hygiene, I started establishing a morning routine shortly after my oldest daughter was born. I was constantly stressed in the mornings. I felt like I was spinning around directionless until naptime every day. I worked so hard to create a routine for her each day but I hadn’t done the same for myself. I slowly started waking up earlier and setting aside time for myself each morning. This led to my mornings feeling more relaxed. There was a huge shift in my mental and physical health. I even started thinking of myself as a morning person! I still slip into bad habits, like sleeping in, every now and then. But my days are so much smoother and happier if I follow my routine.
Wake Up At Least an Hour Before Everyone Else
My kids are not incredibly early risers, so waking up early isn’t a huge struggle for me. I’m able to wake up at 6:30 and have almost an hour to myself each morning in solitude. That hour gives me time to drink a little coffee, sit in silence, and prepare for the day. Having time to myself each morning is the most important part of my routine. That time before anyone needs me for anything. I can just sit and be still. If I don’t get that time in the morning, I’m grumpy, unfocused, and tired.
I prefer to wake up gently, versus with a screeching alarm. I have a Philips SmartSleep alarm clock with a built-in sunrise simulator. It starts glowing about 20 minutes before my alarm is set to go off. As it gets closer to my wake-up time, the light glows brighter. This alarm clock has made waking up a much more pleasant experience! And I’m not stumbling around in the dark every morning.
Being hydrated is one of the most important aspects of living a healthy life. Not only does a well-hydrated body operate more efficiently, but it also improves mood and cognitive ability. As part of my morning routine, I drink at least half a glass of water before my coffee. I do this as soon as I wake up. I’ve found that if I start my day with water, I’m more likely to drink more of it. On the days that I go for coffee first, I notice a huge decline in my mood. Not to mention I usually have a headache by the afternoon. My goal is to drink at least 60 oz of water each day. I’m more likely to achieve that if I start my morning by getting hydrated.
Plan for the Day Ahead
I typically plan my weeks out on Sunday evenings. This is my time to meal plan, make sure all appointments and errands are established and set my goals. However, planning an entire week can be overwhelming. It also doesn’t allow room to account for moods or plans going awry. This is why I like to specifically plan each day in the morning. I can look at my to-do list, evaluate what happened the day before and shift priorities around. Breaking my goals into smaller pieces daily helps me to be more realistic. It also helps create a momentum of achievement. I’m more likely to accomplish big goals if they start off small and attainable. I use The Home Edit Planner by Day Design as my daily planner. There is room for my daily schedule, to-do lists, and goal setting. It helps me prioritize my time and tasks.
While planning out my day, I also take a moment to reflect on everything I have to be grateful for. This practice may seem pretty cheesy, but it helps me a lot with my mental health. My PMDD makes me more vulnerable to depressive episodes every month and having to think of one or two positive things each morning helps me. I’m not saying that practicing gratitude is a cure for depression. All I’m saying is that thinking of something that I’m grateful for helps me combat feelings of hopelessness. And I don’t write that I’m thankful for my kids or my house, etc. every day. Some days I’m grateful for a new show to watch, clean sheets, or tacos. The gratitude practice just helps me look for something I enjoy each day.
As a stay-at-home mom, one of my daily jobs is to feed the kids. So it’s kind of a no-brainer that I have to make breakfast every morning. However, preparing breakfast is an important part of my morning routine because I do it BEFORE the kids wake up. If I don’t cook before they are up, then buckle up. My kids wake up hungry and grumpy. I’ve found that having breakfast ready early prevents whining, crying, and me pulling out my hair before 8 AM. It also gives me time to make myself something to eat. I wasn’t always a breakfast eater, but I definitely need to eat in the morning now. Setting aside the time to prepare food for when everyone else wakes up, gives us time to eat breakfast as a family. I know that won’t always be the case, so I treasure it now.
Get a Jump Start on the Day
The final part of my morning routine is getting a jump start on the day. This could mean accomplishing a chore, responding to emails, or getting dressed. I’m not going to lie and say that I get dressed and ready first thing every morning. I don’t. In fact, I like to stay in my PJs as long as possible. But I do like to check a chore off the to-do list first thing each morning. Usually, that chore is unloading the dishwasher. Emptying the dishwasher first thing creates a snowball effect of tidiness. I’m able to load the dishwasher immediately after breakfast, which keeps the sink and counters uncluttered. It keeps the kitchen clean, so I’m not distracted from the kids or other chores that need to get done. For you, a jumpstart may mean starting laundry or preparing lunch ahead of time!