I never have time to do yoga. Who has time to read? Journaling -Ha! I don’t have time for that.
I wish I had more me-time. There is not enough time in the day for me to (blank).
These were common things I told myself a few years ago, as a young mom, with two busy little boys. You can fill in the phrases with whatever it is in your life that gets put on the back burner because you are a busy Mom – or Dad, or Grandparent, or Caregiver.
Finding time for yourself, that precious “me time”, becomes difficult when you have a young family that depends on you 24 hours a day. But I strongly believe that “me time” is so important and cannot be sacrificed.
Finding time to do the things that bring us joy, peace, and happiness, makes us better parents, better spouses, and better people.
So that’s why a few years ago I decided to figure out a way to make time for these little things in life that had slipped away from me. I found that time hiding in the wee hours of the morning.
I started setting my alarm clock for 30 minutes before my kids usually woke up. Now I say “usually” because we all know that young kids don’t adhere to the clock all the time, and some nights/mornings are better than others. My kids usually wake up around 6:15, so I started setting my alarm for 5:45. Eventually getting up a full hour before they wake up is ideal, but ease into it people – trust me. Some mornings I might even get up at 4:45, hit the gym and be back before anyone is even awake, but on most mornings, there are 6 things I do for my “better morning routine”:
- Drink a FULL glass of water. This should be the first thing you do every morning. Doing this wakes your body up, gets your organs going for the day, and re-hydrates you after a (hopefully long) night’s sleep. For an added bonus, squeeze a little fresh lemon juice in your water!
- Meditate, do some yoga, or stretch. Wake your body up gently. Do a couple of sun salutations or some deep stretching. Just sit in the quietness of the morning and breathe deeply. Give your mind, body, and soul a few minutes to ease into the day. You will feel more energized and less stressed throughout the day. Maybe you even want to think of a little positive mantra to say to yourself, setting the tone for the day? My go to’s are: “I see the truth, beauty, and joy in everything” and “Time expands when I am in the now”. You can find lots of inspiring mantras and affirmations online. If that’s not your thing, then just some deep breathing and stretching will do the trick too.
- Writing. For me, keeping a journal and making lists is very helpful. I might jot down how I’m feeling that day, goals I have, things I’m grateful for, or things that are giving me anxiety. It helps to put it down on paper and get it out of your brain. You could also try making a list of things you need to do that day, write a thank you note to someone, or write a note for your kids’ lunch box that day. Whatever you want to write about, or make a list of is fine. It’s just the act of clearing the clutter in your mind, and getting it down on paper that helps.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or whatever your morning beverage of choice is. Find a cozy chair, maybe put on the news or some mellow music if you’d like, and just sit for a few minutes while you enjoy whatever is in your mug (in my case it’s coffee with a splash of almond milk – glorious). I usually like to save this one, for after I’ve done the first 3 things listed above. That way I feel a sense of accomplishment already and I feel like I deserve a little treat.
- Shower and “half-way get ready” for the day. Getting the shower out of the way before my kids wake up – especially when they were babies or toddlers – helps tremendously. I try to at least get my make-up done, or get dressed before they wake up, so I don’t have to spend so much time in the bathroom or bedroom getting ready when they are awake and need my attention. Which leads me to the sixth and final thing on my list of things to do for better mornings – perhaps the most important one.
- Snuggle and spend time with your kids. Waking up earlier and accomplishing all of the things on the list above before my kids wake up, allows me the time to be able to snuggle them, sit with them on the couch and watch cartoons, instead of rushing around the house like a crazy person. If your kids are older and past the snuggling phase, just sit with them at the breakfast counter, talk about the day, watch a funny video together, or make them their favorite breakfast. Just spend some quality time with them before everyone rushes out the door and onto their busy lives.
That early morning alarm was hard to adjust to. I am someone who needs a lot of sleep to function properly and not be a total crabby pants! But, the value of having better, happier, and more peaceful mornings far outweighed the extra 30-60 minutes of sleep.
So I challenge you to set your alarm clocks a little bit earlier than usual tomorrow. Carve out some time for yourself and see what happens. The trick is to have a purpose for why you are getting up that early. Have a routine, and know what you want to accomplish in that time. Just getting up early and then wandering around the house like a zombie wondering what to do won’t do you any good.
Give it a shot for a week and let me know what you think! Do you have a different routine for your morning? I would love to know what other people have found helpful to make their mornings happier too!
Stay tuned for my next post: “A Mom’s Nightly Routine: 5 Things to do Before Bed“, for some tips on how to set yourself up for better mornings!