Over the years, my morning routine has become my life raft.
It started years ago when the babies were all really little and life felt out of control. Never feeling like I had any time or energy for myself. Living with this feeling of always being “behind”. I decided to create this really simple routine of getting up a little earlier before all the kids were awake. Just an extra 15 minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.
I’d go downstairs, with the house still dark and quiet, light a candle, and start my coffee. While my coffee brewed quietly, I’d sit by the candle in my kitchen, pull out a little notebook and write. It was nothing formal. Just whatever was on my mind. A brain dump. There were no prompts or journaling. It was literally just me a pen, some paper, and my candle. It was that simple.
With a hot cup of coffee in my hand, I’d take a few more moments sitting at our kitchen table taking a few deep breaths before heading upstairs hearing the sounds of little feet. And the day would be off. That quiet moment never found again.
My morning routine at the time was so simple. Basic. I’m not even sure I had any real intention or plan behind any of it. It was before I even knew what a “morning routine” was. Instead, it was just me simply knowing that I needed a minute. I needed a pause. Something for myself. A way to connect deeper with me.
My life at the time was feeling so out of control, and in some small way, I think this was my way of feeling as though I had some agency over my day. My energy. My attitude.
That simple act of lighting a candle, and being alone with my thoughts empowered me. I felt a small spark in me relight. I was still there.
Over a decade later, I’m still getting up before the babies, now teenagers. My alarm has moved back quite a bit and I’m carving out even more space for myself.
The space and time has changed and evolved. Adding in different types of movement and meditations, different drinks and teas, journaling styles, and writing approaches. But the intention behind all of it has remained the same.
To move my body and clear my energy
To take care of myself, before taking care of others. To reconnect with my authentic self. And intentionally choose how I want to move into my day.
Because my morning routine is such an important part of my life, I want to share with you more specifically what it is that I do each morning. I personally love it when people get really specific with me. Tell me exactly what you do, when you do it. Not because I want to copy it, but because there’s usually a little nugget somewhere in there that inspires me to make some kind of change I otherwise wouldn’t have done.
So my hope is that this is just inspiration for you. Not a formula for happiness. So make it your own. Play with it. Don’t get too stuck on any one thing. Focus on the intention and feeling behind it – not the actual “doing”. Remember this is not another way to judge ourselves, but rather a way to honor our soul.
I get up every day around 5 (on the weekend I usually sleep in until 6), I’ve found that the more consistent I am with my sleep, the easier it is to get up Monday am. Our bodies love consistency (espeically our circadian rhythm).
Which means I also have to go to bed pretty early too (I know, I don’t drink, and I go to bed at 9. But I swear I’m fun). I’ve found that as I’ve become more dedicated to my 5 am wake-up calls, I’m just as dedicated to my evening bedtime routines. JP and I try to be in bed, by 9. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a priority. Good mornings start with good nights.
Here’s specifically what I do once my alarm goes off and my feet hit the floor…
First, I always do a few personal care items.
Put in my contacts, wash my face, brush my teeth, make my bed, those types of things. This usually takes me about 15 minutes or so, and just helps me wake up.
Then I make a cup of warm lemon water with sea salt
I let myself get into a little bit of a flow. Connecting my breath with my movements. Closing my eyes. Allowing it to feel smooth and easy. The goal here is not to break a sweat or “work out”, but rather to simply get my energy moving. Our body is just energy. When we sleep or sit still for too long, our energy doesn’t move and we become stagnant. Stretching right away in the am gets the oxygen, the energy, and the life source moving.
After I’ve cleared away any stale energy, I’m ready to sit and meditate.
This again has looked different over the years. Currently, I’m practicing a style of meditation called loving-kindness (sometimes referred to as “metta” meditation). I sit for about 20 minutes at a time. Since moving to California I’m fortunate enough to be able to sit outside on our upstairs patio, usually under the setting stars and rising sun. It’s truly so humbling to sit in stillness while the earth just waking up. There is by far my favorite time of day.
I practice unguided, without music or mantras. Just me, my breath, and my awareness. But I want to reinforce that meditation can look like a lot of different things. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. If you need a little more to help you get started – you can read my full blog post on meditation here.
With my energy cleared, and my mind at ease, I’m ready for tea and Morning Pages
Morning Pages are different than journaling or making a to-do list. It’s a chance to let your mind be free. The idea is to just free write, by hand, 3 full pages. There are days it comes easy. And days it feels like a struggle and I have nothing to say.
I came across the concept of Morning Pages through a book I found this fall, The Artists Way. If you’re looking to unlock your creativity or tap into your intuition more, I can’t recommend it enough.
A few questions that always come up around my morning routine…
How do you get up so early?
It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. I heard this quote before and it really is true “a good morning starts with a good night”. I think more than anything instead of focusing on a specific wake-up time, I’d start with focusing on a new bedtime. Which usually means making some really hard choices and holding yourself accountable. Being willing to change our habits/patterns is really hard – especially ones we hold tightly. And for anyone with kids, our “nightly alone time” is something we all cling to. But I promise the more freedom and at ease you feel throughout the day, the easier it is to let go of some of those evening habits that aren’t serving you.
How do you find 8 hours of sleep, and fit in everything else?
I don’t. I’ve had to let a lot of things go. But I prioritize my sleep. And if I want to get up at 5, and I NEED 8 hours of sleep, I know I have to be in bed by 9. Which means cutting things out like watching TV, or prepping lunches, finishing that last email, responding to the 90 texts that are still sitting unread. I’ve learned to let it go. There is always going to be more to do. But I will add that we’ve also prioritized an early bedtime in our house, which meant making some changes as a family. We limit kids’ activities. Eat dinner really early. Streamlined our kids bedtime routine. Long story short – we cut out a lot of things that weren’t essential. And let the essential things (like sleep for everyone) truly be the priority.
What about your kids? I have little kids and not sure how this would work?
I’ve been doing this since the kids were all little babies, so I get it. First and foremost, work with what you’ve got. And if you are the mom of a newborn, or babies not sleeping through the night – you are not getting up at 5. You are in a phase that won’t last forever. Take care of yourself. Listen to your body and take as much rest as you need
But, if your kiddos are sleeping through the night, then you got this. Your kids are going to interrupt your routine. That is just life. And it’s ok. Let them. Don’t fight what you can’t control. Just keep doing you. I have one kiddo (Sloan) who almost always wakes up during my meditations. He comes and sits on my lap for a minute, and then goes off on his own until I finish. But they know this is what mommy does. It’s become a part of their life as much as it is mine.
Do you ever have trouble sleeping, or feel tired throughout the day?
Not anymore. My sleep now is really solid and consistent, and for the most part, I wake up feeling rested. But a few things helped
One, limiting caffeine. Last year I eliminated coffee and moved to green tea and it’s made a huge difference in my quality of sleep.
Two, my circadian rhythm is balanced which meant being really consistent with my sleep. Going to bed at the same time every day, and getting up at the same time. Including the weekends. I’m not 100% perfect with the 9 pm bedtime on the weekends – there are nights I stay up a little later, but I’m really mindful with my weekend sleep as well and it’s made a huge difference.
I think the reason my morning routine is so important to me is that it’s the one time of the day I’m truly present.
I can feel the warm team in my hand, or the scent of the lemon as I’m slicing it. All the little things that day to day maybe I miss or am not as aware of.
And this feeling of presence and deep awareness leads to two things.
feeling more connected & grounded with myself
feeling more connected & grounded with the present moment
And even though it’s not perfect, and I still have moments where I get caught up in the business of the day, I can feel this presence and awareness trickle into my days more and more. And if I can be more present with my kids. More patient. More aware. Then this morning routine is doing its job.
I wrote in my morning pages the other day words that have really stuck with me.
Be. here. Now.
Be – just simply be. Not having to change or force anything. Rather simply allowing what is to “be”.
Here – wherever I am. Feeling grounded in that space. Whether it’s at school pick up or on my meditation mat.
Now – in the present moment. And the next and the next and the next.
Maybe that’s what this whole morning routine is all about for me, learning to Be Here Now.
And I can’t think of a better gift to give to myself.