Routines Pt. 1
For the month of February, Saturdays will be all about routines. This will be a four part series exploring ideas for morning, midday, evening, and weekend routines. I am all about routines, especially recently with baby H. Are you with me? Do you love routines too? Read on, then! Are you more of a go with the flow type of person and tend to be against routine? Still, I would say, read on! I think routines are obviously going to look very different based on lifestyle, but I do believe routines are essential regardless of life status. We all need them. From the college student to the SAHM (stay at home mom) to the CEO to the freelance photographer, even to your toddler; routines are for everyone.
The Morning Routine
I used to believe to my very core that I was a morning person. I lived for early morning wake up calls. I loved getting up before everyone else. I loved the quiet and the early morning coffee time. Don’t get me wrong, I never leaped out of bed ready for the day (except maybe for a select time in college when I had less responsibility). I did however, want to get up early and enjoyed it after I was out of bed. Then I had a baby. I was no longer a morning person, nor was I night owl; I was not really sure what I was. Maybe an afternoon person. Is that a thing? It took a few long months for me to realize that the lack of a morning routine was really messing up my whole day and leaving me feeling cranky, unproductive, and dare I say, mad. Mad does not look good on me, or really anyone for that matter, but the early days and months of Hudson, I was not as joyful as I should have been. There are many reasons for this shift in mood and attitude, but I do think a large part of it had to do with not having a good morning routine that put me in the right frame of mind to face whatever that day held for me. What works for you is likely to be quite different, but here are 5 general tips to start building your morning routine that gets your day started right.
1. Set an Alarm
Trust me, I hate the sound of an alarm going off as much as the next person, but I learned that even when you don’t need to, setting an alarm is one of the best ways to start the day. Why? I think part of the reason alarms can be so important to a morning routine is because they help you start your day off demonstrating discipline. We are faced with thousands of decisions per day, research even concludes that the average adult person makes about 35,000 decision in a day. That is a lot of opportunities to either demonstrate discipline or not. By choosing to get out of bed when your alarms rings, you are allowing your first decision making opportunity one in which you are saying yes to your day and no to the comfort of continuing to sleep. We often focus more on the big decisions in our day like where we are going, what we are doing, and who we are seeing, but tend to not to give as much weight to the smaller ones that fill our days. These smaller ones are just as important and can make or break a day. All this to say, that setting an alarm is important and actually listening to that alarm is even more important. I definitely have noticed a difference with my days where I stop or snooze my alarm versus the days I get up right when my alarm sounds. Set an alarm, get up early, start your day saying yes.
2. Make Your Bed
I have gone in and out of bed making phases. I sometimes fall in the trap of believing the lie: “I don’t have time to make my bed”. Time how long it takes to make your bed. For me, it takes about 1 minute. Granted, we have a pretty simple bed, you might be fancier with more throw pillows and such, but the reality is that making your bed does not take long at all. No matter how crazy life can feel, we can always choose to make our beds. It seems like a small choice, but starting the day by completing a task is extremely satisfying. In the matter of the first 10 minutes of waking up, I have already made two positive choices. Gotten out of bed and made it. When the morning starts rolling and the anxiety begins to creep in that I am a failure of a mom/wife/person and can’t get anything done, I can at least catch a glimpse of our neatly made bed and tell myself, “You made your bed! You’re doing awesome!”. Also, a point of clarification, when I say make your bed, I don’t mean just pull up the covers. I mean really make it. Fold the sheets precisely. Fluff the pillows. Flatten out all the wrinkles. Be able to step away, not only feeling like you accomplished something, but that you did it with quality and care. This makes a difference. Try it.
3. Get Grounded
After making my bed, I cannot just begin on my to-do list. I need to first ground myself. Again this is going to look different from person to person, but the best and only way I know how to truly stay grounded and reminded of my purpose is spending time in the Word. This will look different depending on the season I am in. There have been seasons where I honestly was not in the Word. And this greatly affected me. Just like taking vitamins every day in the morning, reading scripture is a necessity for me. I desperately need the Word of God to remind me who I am. I need scripture to give me a more heavenly perspective. Sometimes I read just a few verses, sometimes I read a Psalm, sometimes I read multiple chapters. Regardless of season, the importance is being in the Word. For me, part of my routine is also avoiding any screens in this early time. Therefore, I always read scripture in the Bible during this morning time. Again, this is just a personal choice, but I really enjoy physically opening it up. About a year ago, Lance gave me the She Reads Truth Bible for a Christmas present. I love this bible for many reasons. It is pretty and inviting. It has excellent devotionals interwoven throughout. And the CSB translation feels very accessible to me. Obviously, how your bible looks does not matter. All that matters is the Truth contained within the cover, but there is nothing wrong in finding a beautiful bible, especially if it helps you get in the Word on a daily basis. Maybe you are reading this and thinking: “getting grounded sounds great, but I am not religious. I don’t even own a bible!”. I could then go on to tell you that as an alternative, you could read a quotation that inspires you. There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel like I would be remiss in not encouraging you to try reading scripture. I love literature and I love a good quotation, but the words of an author simply do not compare to reading the living Word of God. It is amazing how wherever I open up my bible to, I am met right where I am and given the words I so desperately needed to hear. If this is something you have never done, I think the Psalms is a great place to start. Read just one verse, maybe read more. God will meet you where you are. He can ground you.
4. Find Your Morning Place
I sit in the same chair every morning. I light the candle. I pour my coffee. I sit in my flannel pjs. Your morning likely will look different. Maybe for you, you are already dressed in work attire and you are sitting in your car. Maybe you are out walking on a trail. Maybe you are lying on a yoga mat. However you start your morning, I think there is something nice about creating a very similar atmosphere every morning, even if it lasts for just a few moments. It does not need to get crazy. It can be simple. For me, it is a familiar chair, the flicker of a candle, and coffee. Pick a couple things that will help create a morning environment that brings you peace and calmness.
5. Pray and Plan for Day
If you have just read a couple of posts, I think the fact that I am a woman of prayer and planning has come across. I hope it has! If not, I am not conveying who I am very well. My morning routine typically ends with me praying for the day and mapping out in my planner the tentative time schedule for the day. I always start with gratitude. I thank the Lord for giving me a new day. I then pray for the things ahead in the day. I pray for my attitude. I pray for people. And then I always end with love. I tell the Lord of my love for Him and ask Him to help me better love the people in my life, and ultimately thank him for the love He has given me. Also, just want to clarify this looks different based on the day. This is real life. I don’t want you to falsely get the idea that every morning I have a full block of time where I perfectly get to do everything I outlined above. I don’t want you to think every morning I am in fervent prayer. I wish I could tell you I was, but here’s the truth: some mornings, Hudson cries. Sometimes (actually many times) I am interrupted. Sometimes I don’t get to sit in quiet and converse with the Lord. Sometimes my prayer time is simply “Lord, please help me” as I attempt to not break down as I try to console Hudson. The point here is that, yes, some mornings I get amazing quiet time filled with scripture reading, reflection, and prayer. Those mornings are great! But the reality is that those mornings do not happen every day. They may not even happen for days. This does not mean that I throw out the whole routine and I hope I can get in good quiet time with the Lord tomorrow. “Quiet time” does not always have to be quiet. As I type this, I know that I am still attempting to learn this lesson. I am learning to be okay with the noise and chaos and being out of control. If I only prayed in the morning when I had 15-20 minutes of quiet, I would not be praying very much at all. I hope these words can encourage you to be less focused on finding “quiet time” and more focused on communicating with the Lord regardless of how crazy or calm your morning looks.
Along with prayer, I also try to squeeze in a couple minutes of writing out time blocks for the day. I am linking to a youtube video that has helped me re-think how I chunk my day. She has some good insights that I found helpful. Writing out my time schedule for the day, even if it does not go exactly as planned, helps give me direction and focus for the day. By writing down what needs to get done, I am so much more likely to actually accomplish it! Also, sometimes I end up doing things that I did not initially write down, I try to record these once I finish them so I can give myself proof that I am in fact being productive, even on days I do not feel like I am.