When Ross was a baby, 14 years ago, I didn’t have a set morning routine. I woke when he woke and did the usual morning activities. I made our bed, heated his bottle, jumped in the shower (a 3 minute luxury at that time), got dressed, probably drifted around the kitchen a little; but most of the time I was on autopilot.
As someone who loves order, you can imagine how differently my mornings started before I became a mum. They began on my schedule, and I remember them being focused and intentional. There was enormous power in putting my first few hours to use on my most creative and fulfilling projects, and feeling a sense of early morning productivity that I could then take with me into the rest of the day.
When I began to think about how I could improve my mornings the answer seemed obvious. I needed to wake up first, before my baby, and dedicate at least an hour to myself. I also realised I had to create regular foundation blocks during that oasis of calm between 6.00 and 7.00, things that motivated and inspired me to get the best out of my day.
Once I decided to wake up first, things started to change. Not only did I have much needed time and space to myself to adjust to the new day, I was also able to properly focus on what had to be done; I was a lot more productive and rarely felt like I was playing catch up anymore. I began to really slow down and treasure what was most important. I loved spending that precious time with my baby first thing, but I knew I needed time back for myself so that the rest of my day with him was richer and happier. The most important thing about my morning routine has always been the happiness and productivity it brings to my day and life, especially with my family.
My mornings at that time didn’t always go to plan though. Even when he had an established regular routine I had to make sure I was flexible. We all know babies generally don’t wake up at the exact same time everyday, so on days when Ross decided to wake earlier than usual I had to be willing to adapt and change my morning ‘quiet time’ plans.
These days things are a lot different, I now have a full uninterrupted hour and a half from 6 - 7.30. I used to try to fit in a lot, a brisk 40 minute walk beside the sea, oil pulling before my first coffee of the day, even long meditation sessions. But now, with two more additions to our family - Callum and Alex, my most effective routine in the morning is a simple one. I don’t try to cram in too much and I make sure I give myself plenty of time before everyone else wakes up, that way I have a clear mind and a lot more patience for the rest of the day.
Over the years I’ve had a number of different morning routines. They've adapted and changed and I've learned some important things along the way. If you’re thinking of creating a morning routine, or adjusting one you already have, I hope you find something below to help and inspire you to start your day in the best possible way.
Get up and don’t press snooze
Getting from your bed to your morning isn’t always easy. As soon as my alarm clock goes off I get up. Over the years I’ve had to really work on not pressing the snooze button, but now I see this very first decision of the day as empowering. I am fully in control of how my day starts and making that first decision - to get up - really reinforces that.
Turn off the noise
Looking at your phone first thing in the morning can negatively affect the rest of your day. When my phone also doubled as my alarm clock I couldn’t avoid looking at the notifications that popped up on the screen during the night. To avoid this negative influence on my morning I moved my phone out of the bedroom and purchased a Lumie Sunrise Alarm. Instead of waking up to a blaring beeping tune and the temptation to start my day looking at my phone, I now wake up to birds chirping and a simulated sunrise, a much more pleasant way to start.
Remember a morning routine pre-kids looks very different to one after kids. Parents deserve to have a positive, productive morning just as much as anyone else, but it’s important to remember to be flexible. Over the years I’ve had to be realistic about what I could achieve in the mornings. Heading out for a two hour run first thing may not be achievable but a 20 minute yoga session before your first coffee might be. Like I said, we are now past the stage where I have to embrace flexibility in the mornings, but I still have to remember to be realistic with the activities I choose to get done before everyone wakes up. Having a great start to the day with your children is so important to your (and their) overall happiness. Embrace it and this precious time.
Don’t sacrifice sleep
It’s always important to remember that morning rituals work best when you’re mindful of the season of life you’re in. Getting up before your kids wake to start your morning routine will of course depend on how well they sleep during the night. When Ross was a brand new baby who woke every three hours during the night I couldn’t imagine anything worse than setting my alarm clock for 6am!
Set morning rituals
Having a morning routine that you love and can’t wait to get started on is the best and most optimistic way to start the day. Over the years I’ve learned to set myself morning rituals, fixed elements that feature every single morning. I don’t have anything in my mornings that I don’t look forward to doing. These include things like reading and sipping a hot coffee while I plan my day.
There’s no ‘right’ morning routine
Lastly, always remember that the best routine is your own. I used to exercise with a brisk walk first thing in the morning. When this became a chore, and hard to fit into my morning schedule I changed my routine and I now exercise later on in the day. There’s no specific ‘right way’ to start the day, there’s only your own way. Follow your instincts, experiment and see what works for you.
For inspiring routines of some of the worlds most successful people take a look at the bestselling book My Morning Routine: How successful people start every day written by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander.