How a solid morning routine can boost happiness + my own routine

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I have been a self proclaimed "night owl" all of my life. Go to bed late. Get up late. However, during the past year, I have been praying to wake up earlier. I was praying to be one of those women who springs out of bed at 5 am, showers and has a homemade restaurant-worthy breakfast ready for her children and husband as she sends them out the door to greet the day. One of those women who is "successful" in her stylish work outfit before 7 am. I wanted all the tricks to help me not feel like sludge in the early morning hours.

My mornings looked like rushing to get up, splashing water on my hair to control the bed head, wrangling my daughter awake and handing her a granola bar as we rushed out the door.

God answered my "help me get up earlier and be like a 70's sitcom mom" prayer in the form of a dog. A dog, dear readers! A dog that wakes up at 6 am on the dot. A dog that is less of a beast throughout the day if she has a morning walk. God has a funny way of answering prayers. In hindsight, the dog's bladder was an answer to my get up earlier prayer. I could either go back to bed after her walk or teach my body to stay awake and start my day.

I opted for being an adult and trying to stay awake. Now what? Am I supposed to sit here for two hours until everyone else wakes up? I did some research on what this so called "morning routine" was supposed to look like.

I tried this. I tweaked that. When I had all the pieces dialed in on my own morning routine, the habit of getting out of bed earlier was not all that happened to me. I noticed a change. A big change. I noticed how much happier I was throughout the day. I was less bitter and resentful. Less crabby even though I was technically getting less sleep. After some journaling and investigating my new routine, I found out why I was happier. I finally figured out what all the "morning routine" hype was about.

FEED YOUR OWN SOUL FIRST

You feed your own soul first. You do not just place your feet on the floor two hours earlier. You are able to ease into the morning. You have the freedom to choose what you want to do in that time. I love the analogy of the flight attendant instructing parents, in case of an emergency, to put on their own oxygen mask first and then assist their children. A morning routine does exactly that. It allows you to breathe oxygen into your own soul first and then be available to your loved ones.

Here is how a morning routine can breathe oxygen into your soul and increase your daily happiness:

TIME

When you wake up rushed and scheduled you feel frenzied. However, when you wake up earlier you have the benefit of time. Time when the "others" in your home are still tucked away in bed sleeping or showering to get ready for their day. Time is good for reflection, gratitude and silence.

This time can be filled with any number of the following:

• journaling
• writing
• prayer
• reading
• scripture
• meditation
• drinking coffee, tea, smoothie, warm lemon water
• eating breakfast, making breakfast if that re-energizes you
• gym work out
• home work out
• work out class - if you need accountability
• yoga - at the studio or home
• stretching
• walking - my current favorite!
• running
• gardening
• sitting outside
• listening to a podcast, music or just the sounds of nature outside

You are using time to slowly and gently waking up your mind. You are thinking your own thoughts first. You are spending the first moments of your day participating in what YOU would like to be doing. You are supplying much needed oxygen to your soul and body first. The benefits of that will change your life.

Here is my current morning routine. If I have a day where I can not do it or I am just too tired to wake up, I definitely feel the loss.

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MY MORNING ROUTINE

6:20 am - Alarm goes off. I either get up or snooze one more time.
6:30 - 7:00 am - Walk the dog 1-2 miles every morning.
7:00 am - Turn on one kitchen light.
Light a candle.
Sit at my kitchen counter.
Write in my "morning pages" journal. (Writing is meditation for me.)
Drink my favorite Butter Toffee coffee.
Eat something baked and sweet (my sugar for the day!)
7:30 am - Husband comes downstairs and we touch base for the day.
Kiddo asleep.
Husband leaves for work.
8:00 am - Start writing or catching up on my design to do list.
Kiddo usually wakes up around this time and then we switch over to her morning routine.

When I feed my own soul first, I am happier. I am happier because I have accomplished what I wanted to do for the day and I have fed oxygen to my body and soul. I am less resentful because I have participated in some selfish "me" time. I am not barking at my daughter while she is trying to get breakfast because I am mad that she is interrupting me while I am trying to write. I am happier because I am calmer. I do not wake up in a behind the clock frenzy anymore. I am happier because I have spent some quiet reflective time with God.

ACTION ITEM: Start by setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier...or get a dog :) Then get up, make something warm to drink and choose what you will do with your 15 minutes. Then, you can gradually increase the time that you wake up earlier. Your soul and family will notice the difference.

Now this night owl is asleep between 9:30 and 10 pm. I go to bed earlier. I wake up earlier. And I am so much happier!