HOW SETTING UP A MORNING ROUTINE SAVED MY SANITY
For many of us these days, there never seems to be enough time. Do you feel constantly busy throughout the day? Yet, come the evening, wonder what you’ve achieved as you’ve still got lots to do even by bedtime? I felt like this too until I got up earlier and used the extra time to set myself up for the day! Check out this post about how setting up a morning routine saved my sanity.
WHY MY MORNINGS WEREN’T WORKING
Are you naturally an early riser or a night owl? If you’d rather stay up late and get things done in the evening I completely understand. Some people just work better in the evenings.
However, are you somebody who stays up late, too late, just so that you can get some quiet time after the kids have gone to bed and when you’ve finally finished the chores? Does this mean that you struggle in the mornings when the alarm goes off? Do you hit the snooze button, only then to get woken up by the patter of little feet and small voices pleading with you to get them a drink, go downstairs, feed them breakfast etc?
Waking up to my children when I was still groggy and just wanted more sleep was so so difficult for me. It started my day off on the wrong foot.
I felt disorganised, irritable, rushed. What happened if my alarm didn’t go off or I hadn’t set the snooze facility and I just slept through it? Disaster! We would all be late, or shouty with each other as I hurried the kids to have breakfast, do their teeth, hair, get homework together, make lunches, pack bags, not to mention get myself presentable for the day and ready for work.
That was even before we made it out of the door, inevitably forgetting one or more things in our rush and mad panic not to be late.
Surely there was a better way to set myself up for the day, which would then mean everybody else would have a better day too?
CREATING A MORNING ROUTINE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
There was a better way, a much better way which I have adopted every single day since (even the weekends!) and which has totally changed my life. It feels like I have warped time, magically extending the number of hours in which I’m able to achieve things. I’ve found some amazing parallel universe where the days are longer and I can fit more in, so I’m not constantly in a rush and chasing my time.
Well, no, it’s not magic, it’s just getting up earlier!
And of course, it’s not just time to achieve things that I HAVE to do, it’s time to achieve things that I WANT to do.
Let’s be realistic, many of the benefits of getting up earlier are simply so that we can fit in some of things that we struggle to do during the day – putting the laundry on, making lunches, dinner prep for the evening, simply having a shower and washing your hair.
But, with the extra time you have created you have given yourself the opportunity to do other things which are just for you… to help you gain some balance and purpose in your day. Things that you can’t do during the rest of the day when you have kids to look after, housework or work or commitments, or perhaps all of the above.
I was in this same situation.
A vicious cycle of staying up too late, not being able to get up early enough the next day, in a rush and forgetting things every morning.
I would arrive at work exhausted, frazzled and feeling like I’d done a full day’s work before I’d even started. I cut myself some slack and realised that I did have a lot on my plate.
At the time I was doing all the morning routine on my own as my husband worked long hours, gone from early morning to late evening. Although I worked every day too, I started at 9am so I had time to do all the morning stuff before I got in. This went on for years and continues to this day but I have my morning routine sussed now so it’s fine. And, I still have wiggle room for those days when things just don’t go right!
I realise that getting up earlier isn’t the solution for everyone. That’s ok as we all need to find our own way of doing things.
But I would encourage you to try it for a while and give yourself time to adjust and see if it makes a difference to you.
MY MORNING ROUTINE NOW
I now go to bed about 10pm. I wake up any time between 5 and 6am depending on what sort of night’s sleep I’ve had and what I’ve got planned to do for that morning.
I make myself a cup of tea and whilst the kettle’s on unload the dishwasher. That takes all of 5 minutes but without the tea bit, I don’t function very well first thing in the morning! The kids wake up at 7am and stay in bed until then, even if they wake earlier. So I know that I have until 7am to pack in as much as I can to set myself up for the day. Such as…
- Depending on work commitments I might do some work
- Check my emails to see if there’s anything I should be aware of for the day
- Push out a piece of work that I’ve been dreading or is important so I make that a priority
- Write a blog post or two!
- Look at my diary for the day to see what’s coming up and if there’s anything I need to do
- I’ll also make the packed lunches (I’ve never been good at doing these the night before even though I probably should!)
- Catch up on the news
- Check out social media, partly for work, partly personally (so that I’m not doing this whilst the kids are around)
- Sometimes I read a book (in peace, so I can actually remember what I’ve read and don’t just read the same paragraph over and over)
- Put a load of laundry on
- Take a walk (in the summer months when it’s light)
- Do some exercise – yoga, pilates, whatever suits you
- Practice meditation or mindfulness (without having to keep an ear out for the kids needing something)
These are some of the things I choose to do. I usually combine a bit of what I like to do with a bit of what I need to do. This way, I can do the stuff that HAS to get done (such as packed lunches) so that I feel on top of things but I can also look forward to getting up early because I get to do some things that I WANT to do. Let’s face it, we all need a bit of enticement to get up at 5am on a cold, dark, January morning!
OVERCOMING THE PROBLEMS
It was a bit trial and error to begin with. The two biggest problems I found which made it pointless (and frustrating) for me to put the effort into getting up early were these:
- Wasting my precious time by getting side-tracked, for example, by checking out facebook
- When the kids woke up unusually early, coming downstairs and wanting a drink, food and maybe TV
I solved these problems quite quickly
- Wasting time – I planned my morning routine before I went to bed the night before. I either wrote it down in my diary or made a mental note of what I needed to do. Either is fine, but you will know which works for you, seeing it on paper, or remembering it. The point is to stick to it. If there’s something that you want to do instead, swap it for the following morning when you can put this in your plan.
- The kids – I talked to them about our new morning routine. We worked out what time they needed to be up to get everything done before the school run and mapped out their mornings from when the alarm went off at 7am. I explained that if they woke before 7am (this does happen every now and then still) then they would have to stay in bed, make up stories to themselves, chat quietly, read a book etc. At 7am they could then bounce downstairs with a warm welcome from me.
Of course, a lot of this depends on how old your children are and what your current situation is. If you have a new baby and are up a lot at night then this probably won’t be the right time for you to forcibly wake at 5 or 6am! Don’t worry, these are just phases so maybe wait a while until they’re older. Give yourself some grace and just do what you can.
If your children are young, don’t understand about waiting until 7am (or whatever time you’ve set) or can’t read the clock yet, just give it time, patience and perseverance. Buy a clock that lights up or makes a smiley face when it’s time for them to come downstairs, let them have a few toys in their room that they can play with until you tell them it’s time to come down.
If they do come out earlier than you’d like, just take them back to their room, explain that it’s not time to come out yet in a way that they are able to understand. They will get into the routine in time if you stick with it. I’ve also found that their natural body clocks tend to adjust so my children generally ended up waking with the alarm clock and not before.
There will always be the odd morning when plans don’t go as expected. This is only natural, just take a deep breath, carry on and think what you’ll do tomorrow. Make contingencies for when the unexpected happens and don’t plan your morning routine to the nearest second in case you need to spend 5 minutes putting one of your little kids back to bed!
MAKING IT EASIER ON YOURSELF TO GET UP EARLIER
There are other ways you can make it easier to get up before the sun does
- Put the coffee machine on the night before
- Set the heating to come on early in the morning during winter so you’re not getting up to a cold house
- Lay out your comfy clothes or work out clothes the night before (maybe even in the bathroom or downstairs so you don’t wake up the whole house when you crash around trying to get dressed in the dark)
- Have your computer already set up for the work you want to get done, so once you sit at your desk then you’re all set to start and don’t get distracted by an internet search!
- Start by waking and getting up just 10 minutes earlier for the first week if the prospect of an hour or two is way too daunting. Then try 30 minutes earlier for the next week and so on. You’ll soon find a time that your body clock feels comfortable with and is enough for you to get everything done
- Go to bed at a reasonable time the night before. How many hours sleep do you need? If you’re getting up at 5am then going to bed after 11am is probably not going to sustain you.
- Be aware that it’s harder to get up in winter when it’s darker and colder!
- Work out whether you prefer to get one or two big things done (a full yoga workout/write a report for work) or lots of smaller things (lunches, laundry, social media, a five minute morning meditation, read a quick chapter of a book) or a mix of both. If one way doesn’t work then try another.
It’s difficult adjusting to a new routine, for adults as much as children, but this is so worth it when you make the effort! If you’re a ‘get up and go’ sort of person, just start and you’ll soon see the benefits.
If you find it more difficult to implement a routine and stick to it, maybe just try it for a month and see how you feel at the end? Talk to your husband/partner and get them on board so they can either help you or encourage you.
Don’t put it off, start tomorrow with a morning routine that sets you up for the day and helps you find your balance and purpose (without that mad rush)!
I’m rooting for you! I’d love to hear about your experience and whether this is something that works for you!
MORE HELP TO MANAGE YOUR TIME
You might also want to get your copy of How To Make Your Time Work For You.
It’s a powerful and popular workbook that will help you carve out more time for the things you want to do instead of just what you need to do. Packed full of question prompts and suggestions to help you get more out of your day, carve out some time for you and generally be more efficient with the time you do have. Learn more here!