I think the most common issue moms share is sleep deprivation. Personally, before having children, I assumed severe lack of sleep was limited to the early infant months. Little did I know just how long the broken sleep goes for while raising kids.
Between middle-of-the-night spooks, bed wetting, bathroom trips and sick days—most mamas are not clocking in anywhere close to the 8-10 recommended sleep hours.
So I began to feel that familiar struggle between what I call “my ideal and my real.” My ideal was to both be well rested and have an intentional morning routine—and if possible, one that begins on my own terms, preferably before the kids wake up.
My real was chronic nights of sub-par and broken sleep and a complete abandonment of attempting any morning routine at all.
This is where I needed a strong dose of my own medicine. I believe that as mothers, we need to kick ideal out the window and come to terms with the life we are living in order to create strategies that actual move us forward… instead of waiting for the perfect conditions to exist.
The old familiar all-or-nothing trap is one I fell into for a long time. Since I was already sleep-deprived, I put off creating a morning routine that would set a cadence for my day in a way that I wanted.
And as it often happens—while I was teaching one of my courses, a light bulb went off in my own life. While it may not be the most perfect scenario, I could still create a robust and effective morning routine with my kids awake and around me.
I began to explore different ways that I could bring in intentional calm, clarity, and joy to my mornings as a means to help my day follow suit. Here are 11 ideas you can begin to play around with during your morning hours that can be done with or without kids underfoot.
Simple deep breathing practices can literally take one minute, and will shift your whole biochemistry into a calm, alert state.
No doubt about it, if I don’t have enough quiet, solitary time in prayer I start to crave it—but there are many types of conversations I have with God through the day, even when noise and action surorund me. Staying in the presence of God during our busy times is just as important as during our quiet times.
There’s hardly anything that can lift your spirits and set you back on the right path as effectively as music that moves you from the inside out. Make a playlist of your favorites and include some music time in your morning hours.
4. Techniques to get you in a healthy energy flow
We are energy beings at the core (not to get too quantum physics on you), and when your energy is high and vibrant, your whole day follows suit. Energy techniques work under philosophies similar to acupuncture and reflexology, which keep a healthy flow of energy running through your body. Here’s a quick stress-reducing technique video I created.
5. Nourishing breakfast
When you wake up, a healthy hormone system will cause a rise in cortisol (the stress hormone) to get you moving and grooving. Once you’re going, it’s important to help your body shift out of a stress metabolism and into a calm metabolism—and a robust, nourishing breakfast is a critical way to do that.
6. Read inspirational quotes or Scripture
Set your mental focus at the start of the day by filling your mind with inspiring words, scripture or meaningful quotes.
7. Essential oils
Work to engage all your senses for a calm, clear, and energized start. Choose essential oils from the citrus or mint families, and either diffuse them through the air or rub them in the palm of your hands. Take in a few calming deep breaths.
8. A luxurious face-washing routine
Small acts of pampering can go a long way—create a simple morning routine where you clean and moisturize your face with a bit extra care. My favorite is a natural baking soda and coconut oil scrub I make, which leaves me refreshed for very little cost and time.
9. Simple stretches, or stress-reducing yoga positions
If you don’t have time for major exercise or activity, you can still greatly benefit from moving your body and stretching stiff or sore areas. Here is a great short video by a friend and colleague of mine, Dr Sara Gottfried, for a quick stress-reducing yoga posture. I regularly get my kids to join me on this one when we could all use a cool down.
10. Prayer of thanksgiving with the family before breakfast
Taking a moment to connect as a family and to set the day’s tone together is powerful. One of my favorite things to do before a meal blessing is to hold hands and take a family breath together. You’d be amazed at the energy difference this one act makes.
11. Rambling pages or journaling
One of my favorite morning activities is journaling. This is such a fantastic way to get all your chaotic swirling thoughts out of your head, onto paper, and to open up space for processing and clearer thinking.
Clearly, this list is not exhaustive, nor does anyone need to do eleven things to have an effective morning routine. But these are ideas to get you started. Best of all, they’re easy to implement, even when the house is bustling and you have very little time.
Perhaps you could choose one or two that resonated with you—plan to work them in tomorrow morning just to experiment with how it feels.
This post was first published on June 13, 2012.