I used to loathe mornings. In college, I struggled to make it to my 8am classes. I would stay up SO late, pretending to study, eating God-knows-what with my roommates, texting God-knows-who, you get the idea (time of my life, but yikes). I’d be SO tired and out of it each morning. I’d kind of just hurl myself around in a disorderly stupor just trying to get out the door.
Starting my first “real job” after I graduated was a bit of a wakeup call–not a ton of margin for error in the corporate world, I learned.
It took me several years to rearrange my lifestyle to resemble that of a functioning member of society. Over time, I grew to love mornings before work–I’d get ready with a glass of lemon water next to me and a podcast in my ears. Then I’d sip coffee and catch up with a friend on the phone on my drive into the office. Lovely!
Then I had two babies, lol. I spent the first year of Char’s life in a chaotic daze before I realized what was missing. Once I got my morning routine back on track, I noticed a huge change in my mood and the way I parent.
I am just not the type of mom who can spring out of bed and start changing diapers and diffusing tantrums right off the cuff. I need to get myself right before I can focus on my girls. I can’t be the only one like this?
You know that saying about putting on your own oxygen mask first? My morning routine is my oxygen mask.
I like to take 20-30 minutes to myself–to take care of my body and get my mind and heart in order before I face the two toddlers who occupy every ounce of effort for the rest of the day.
Tyler is still working from home, so he wakes up and handles the girls’ breakfast and such while I do this. I’m very fortunate to have him, but I will definitely start waking up to do my little routine before the girls once he has to start commuting again.
Note: If you’re really looking for a reset, the book Atomic Habits by James Clear is the best I’ve read on the subject of creating “good” habits. It’s inspiring but more importantly practical. I’ve employed several tactics I learned from this book over the past year and recommend it to literally everyone.
One more thing. This is going to sound cheesy but I like to have my nightstand fully “stocked” everything I need for my morning situation. So, I keep my drawer organized with my probiotics, eye pads, journal, and pens. And I always fill my water bottle to the tippy top before bed. This was a tip I learned from Atomic Habits–make it easy and accessible.
As soon as I wake up, I take my probiotics and chug a ton of water. Like, a ton. I like to do this because the very next thing I do is take a sip of coffee which is, obviously, a dehydrator. It’s called BaLaNcE.
I’ve taken probiotics for years, as there is quite a bit of research showing that doing so supports gut health. The science just keeps getting better, too, so I’d had my eye on Seed since they launched a couple of years ago. I had to get on an antibiotic earlier this year on account of my first run-in with mastitis (is there a word that means the opposite of “walk in the park”?). So I took this as a sign that my moment had come–I signed up for a subscription for Seed and haven’t looked back. I have noticed a huge difference in my digestion and bloating since switching over, too. (Read a full list of the supplements I take each day here).
Then, I grab my trusty ice roller and gently massage my face with it. You guys know how much I love this thing, and if it wasn’t such a crucial part of my life I would have shut up about it by now, lol. Something about feeling ICE COLD on my face in the morning instantly puts me in a good mood. If you haven’t tried this yet, just trust me. Ice rolling helps with puffiness and helps circulate blood flow to the face, so it’s a no-brainer, really.
This step might be a little frivolous, but we all have our things. I like to wear these green tea + collagen eye pads for a while each morning. These are kind of a “magic eraser” for the puffies if I’ve gone off the wagon food-wise the night before. So refreshing!
After I’ve ice rolled and applied my eye pads, I open my journal and start writing. I have been reading through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way this year which is all about unlocking your creative side. The main cornerstone of the book is something that she calls “The Morning Pages,” or freewriting for three pages, the very second you wake up.
The idea here is that you clear out your brain and get everything that’s bugging you out on paper. This stream-of-consciousness style of writing felt clunky and unnatural to me at first, despite having spent most of my life journaling semi-regularly. Eventually, I got the hang of it–kind of like how the first 5 minutes of a run feel like death itself, and then suddenly, somehow, it’s not so bad and you can carry on for another 20. I use the “morning pages” to pray, make gratitude lists, talk about my week, whatever. Most of it is illegible nonsense, but that’s the whole point.
Since I started doing my morning pages, I’ve noticed two big differences: The first is that I am able to release any bad mojo or anxiety that I inevitably wake up with. Something about writing down what’s stressing me out instantly helps that thing seems less scary. I mean–don’t get me wrong–I still have angsty days, but this sort of “brain dump” has helped immensely.
The second thing I’ve noticed is that I am able to access my creative side a lot more automatically. For example, when I sit down at night to write a newsletter or blog post, I can usually just start typing right away, as opposed to tab-hopping and looking up at the ceiling for inspo for the first 20 minutes. Not always, but most of the time.
For the past few years, I’ve been using these hard cover Moleskine notebooks (I like the blank page ones but to each his own). I love these journals because they lay totally flat, and the pages feel like velvet. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a different kind. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention my favorite Pilot Acroball White pens. The BEST.
Oh, and I try not to open my phone until I’m done writing.
My little sister, who is very attached to her routines, has made her bed every day since she was quite young. You guys aren’t going to believe this, but she actually kind of makes it before she even gets out of it? It’s remarkable, really. I spent most of my life making fun of her, but joke’s on me because I know now that there is nothing more satisfying than beginning the day with a neat and tidy room. I never, ever miss a day now.
After years of trial and error since becoming parents, Tyler and I have finally settled into a consistent morning fitness regimen. After I emerge from the bedroom to greet my family, Tyler heads out to the garage to do his workout. I pick up the house and get the girls dressed while he does his workout. Then we switch. And yes, we are still HYPED about the Peloton. Tyler and I both use the bike/app for most, if not all, of our workouts. I have a full review of it here if you’re interested. In short, it’s been amazing for us and we both take either a cycling, strength, and/or stretching class every day.
I like to wait until after I’ve worked out to get ready for the day. I do have a blog post about my morning skincare routine here although I think I might do an updated one soon. The gist of it, though, is cleanse, moisturize, and protect with SPF. This takes 7 minutes or so.
I usually just rock black coffee in the morning and try to hold off on breakfast until 11am or so, as Tyler and I both try to generally follow an intermittent fasting approach to eating. We almost always break our fast with a green smoothie. This is my #1 health tip. Check out my recipe and how I prep a million at a time here.
Okay, I think that pretty much covers it. I’m happy to answer any questions or provide any detail for anyone looking to overhaul their own mornings. I think the best advice here is to just start with a few key things that you think will make a difference and really commit to it.
It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?