Morning Routine for the Modern Mom

Recently I posted a little tidbit about how I fit in “Me” time with three small children, and a husband that works (mostly insane) hours. As promised, here is a more detailed version of how I map out my mornings.

(Dark pic because the sun isn’t even up yet!)

5:15am – Alarm goes off. Hit (gasp!) Snooze. But I thought the key to having a successful morning routine is NOT hitting Snooze? Well, I use it as a timer (and also as a safety net so I don’t fall back asleep because that honestly sometimes happens.) During my nine minutes of snooze, I meditate by I placing one hand over my heart and my other hand over my belly. I clear away all the mind-chatter and feel my heartbeat and breath. I say a Hail Mary and The Our Father. Then, I review my day like a movie reel. I don’t set expectations, but rather imagine myself going through the motions of what I want to accomplish, and with the attitude I wish to have throughout the day. For example, I imagine speaking calmly to my children when (I can guarantee) they will be as slow as sloths getting into the car. I also imagine myself doing tasks I hope not to forget like laying the class snack by the front door. (It helps!)

 

5:24am – Alarm goes off again. (And I contemplate hitting snooze again.) I get out of bed, take my medicine, wash my face, and get dressed. Getting dressed has been one of the hardest things to train myself to do… and I’m still working on it! It’s hard because I don’t think my brain is awake enough to decide what to wear. But deciding to put *something* on (like workout clothes, 99% of the time) is better than staying in my pajamas.

 

5:35am – I throw in a load of laundry (“A load a day keeps the mountain away”). This little life hack has helped tremendously.

I also take this quiet time to practice mindfulness. I’m learning to be aware of the sounds and noises and other senses around me… the sound of the water hitting the washing machine, the rush of cold air when I open the windows, the sound of the cars’ tires rolling on the pavement, the sounds (and sometimes smells) of the sea lions, the feeling of my fingers touching knobs and handles, the sound of the cricket stuck under our refrigerator (how is he still alive?!)

Next, I start a pot of coffee. (I love my French press.) But before that, I always drink warm lemon water with local honey. It’s a gentle way to wake up my body, and the local honey helps with my allergies. Then, I sit down and get busy with my Bible. I read one chapter a day (sometimes two if I’m having an exceptionally smooth morning.) Right now I am reading Proverbs, mainly because I personally feel like it needs less brain power in the morning to navigate (as compared to other chapters in the Bible).

Then, I “Prayer Journal”. (I wrote about my prayer process here.) I like to write down my prayers because it holds me more accountable to be truthful, as well as navigate my weaknesses and come up with a plan on how to be a better version of myself. I also imagine my kids one day reading through my prayer journal and apologizing for driving me crazy. Kidding. Kinda. But I do imagine them reminiscing over some lovely memories and realizing that whatever they go through in life, their feelings are normal.

After that, I “mind dump”. I quickly jot down whatever comes to mind that I need or want to do. (i.e., “diapers at Costco”, “dog food”, “send thank-you note”, “phone bill”, “babysitter for Friday”, etc.) If I wake up with too much *stuff* in my brain, I’ll mind dump first-thing in the morning to prevent it from becoming too much of a distraction. I also take this opportunity to review my agenda for the day, and 1. Make sure I know the correct date, and 2. Know exactly what I’m suppose to be doing for the day.

 

6 or 6:15am – I cook and eat breakfast. Usually I eat some sort of egg dish (I love my egg sandwich maker) or avocado toast, with fruit, and drink my HOT coffee. I used to cook these elaborate Whole30 and paleo meals, but it got to be too time consuming–with a lot of cleanup.

(Side note: If anyone has quick and easy paleo breakfasts, send them my way!)

 

6:30am – Switch over the laundry and wake up the kids.

(Another side note: Lately, Alexander has been waking up around the six o’clock hour so he usually gets to share a yummy breakfast with me.)

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So there you have it! My morning course of action.

Am I tired of waking up at 5:15am? Do I wish I could sleep in? Yes and Yes. I almost always dread waking up that early, but historically speaking, my day is awful if I don’t.

One day, while staring at the darkened ceiling, I asked myself, “How did you feel when you hit Snooze yesterday?” Terrible. Short-fused and flustered.

Then I asked myself, “How did you feel when you used to wake up early?” Accomplished. Refreshed. Patient.

Sooo… Self, “Which do you want to feel?!” Obviously the latter!

Even when I try to “cheat” on the weekends and claim an extra forty-five minutes or hour of sleep (because, y’know, it’s the freakin’ weekend!), it throws everything off. So for now, this is the path I’m taking.

Do my kids sometimes wake up before 6:30am? Yes. Do I always get to do every single thing in my routine? No. If that happens, I just write, “To be continued…” in my prayer journal and get back to it later in the day when I can.

Is my routine a surefire way to have a perfect morning? Heck no! But it definitely makes for a BETTER morning. The important thing is that I’m trying my best and doing something to help me be the best version of myself.

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How do you feel about morning routines? What is yours like?

Loyally, Katie

P.S. This morning routine was not created over night. I prayed for a long time for God to help me stop yelling at my kids in the morning, and taking them to school in house slippers because I was so flustered and flighty. I hope this post inspires you to make your own changes (that best fit you and your family) to make your mornings more peaceful.

 

How I Thrived While My Husband Worked Nights

My husband’s job of being a physician in Residency is very demanding. This month, he had to work two weeks of “nights”. He would go in for his shift around 5pm and get home around 7am. He has worked nights numerous times and each time I felt like I was going to lose my dang mind! Therefore, when I saw “Nights” listed in his future schedule, I thought, What can I do to not just SURVIVE, but actually THRIVE?

Based on personal experience (both good and bad) I constructed the following tips, tricks, and habits:

Wake up early for “me” time

I set my alarm for 5:15am. I mediated for nine minutes (that’s the length of my snooze button) then got dressed. I went downstairs and drank warm lemon water with honey to gently wake my body, and started a pot of coffee. Meanwhile, I read a chapter in the Bible and prayed/journaled. Next I cooked and ate breakfast with… get this–HOT coffee. Like, actual HOT coffee. I didn’t even know that existed in real life?! All of this took about an hour–just in time for my kids to wake up at 6:30. By getting myself entirely ready before my kids woke up, I felt armored to conquer the day.

{I plan on writing a post on this topic more thoroughly because it really has been life changing.}

Pre-made meals

Cooking for someone who wasn’t living my same “normal” hours was really difficult. By purchasing pre-made meals (from Costco), my husband could eat what he felt like when he felt like it, and I didn’t feel obligated to constantly have something prepared for him.

Paper plates

You may be saying, But this is such a waste! Yes, I know. I struggle with this tip, because while it’s super helpful and easy, it’s also bad for the environment. However! Did you know you can compost paper products? By eliminating the chore of constant dishes for the past two weeks, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Do laundry every day

I had the kids put their dirty clothes in the washing machine the night before (I actually do this all the time as our normal routine) and in the morning I added mine and started the wash. As They say, “A load a day keeps the mountain away.” I switched the load from the washer to the dryer before I took the kids to school and by the time I got back… Ta Da!… I had clean clothes! During our nighttime routine I helped the kids put their clothes away.

Stick to a predictable/tight schedule (that includes doing nothing)

At the start of the week I wrote things down in my calendar that were absolute MUSTS (i.e. school pick-up/drop-off, after school activities, appointments, etc.). Then I looked at our “free time”. It was important to me that I had no obligations to other people. It just seemed too stressful to try and make commitments when I wasn’t sure what my state of sanity was going to be. I’m glad I left free time for my children to play outside in the afternoons and burn some energy. It made for a *smoother* bed time.

Breakfast for dinner

Trying to keep my normal cooking routine was too much pressure in the past, especially since my husband wasn’t eating dinner with us. I didn’t want the stress of trying to get my kids to eat things they weren’t thrilled to eat; and since my husband doesn’t particularly care for breakfast for dinner, I figured these past two weeks were the perfect time to do it.

Get a babysitter

Handing over parental responsibilities to another qualified human being for a few hours a week allowed me to take a break and recharge.

Have a Fun Day!

My husband had one day in between his two-week night rotation so we took advantage of our time together and went away to the beach for one night/day. It was a last-minute decision and I’m glad we did it because it gave us all the much needed quality time we were yearning for as a family.

“Season of Sacrifice”

There were times where even though I was doing all of the above, I still felt overwhelmed. (Obviously completely normal!) If I felt those feelings rising, I stopped, took a deep breath, and remembered that it was just a “Season of Sacrifice” and “This Too Shall Pass”. I thought, It’ll be over before I know it and will be a distant memory.

I DID IT!

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If your spouse is going to be away for a period of time, or is working an opposite schedule, I hope these tips will help ease that exhausting time. You can do it!

 

Loyally,

Katie