A few weeks ago I posted on Instagram about my morning routine and how much joy it brings me. I am absolutely 100 times over not a morning person so I do need to make that clear. I also need to let you know my routine took a lot of trial and error to create and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much; it’s evolved as my life and priorities have evolved. But first a little back story on where this morning routine thing all came from.
In early 2012 I was really struggling with boundaries in my life. Both personal and professional. I was pulling all nighters (and all day-ers if that’s even a phrase) and saying yes to everything and everyone. I was tired and spread entirely too thin and didn’t know how to break the cycle of despair and misery. It sounds so dramatic to phrase it like that but at the time I was in a rough cycle of running on the hamster wheel and didn’t quite see how I would ever get to a more stable place of running my business and living my life purposefully.
Enter this post of Lara’s.
Reading that post was like switching on a light switch for me. So many things, so many SIMPLE things could be done to drastically change the situation I was in and it was like Lara’s post was giving me permission to do just that. I immediately bought my ticket to that year’s Making Things Happen conference thanks to a friend’s recommendation (you can still snag an early bird seat to this November’s!) and with that my journey to protect what I treasure and find balance in my life began. Actually it’s still happening as I type this to you at 6:30 pm, stirring a pot of pasta in the kitchen with the laundry machine going since we have another wedding this weekend and I’m trying to stay on top of all my priorities coming up soon. Because balance is like riding a bike, you have to give a little and take a little from one direction to the next to stay upright. But I digress.
About a year after I attended that first MTH I met the incredible Nancy Ray who served alongside me as a speaker in Chapel Hill. And I listened in awe to her talk about her morning routine. This girl has it going on! Early wake up time, a moment of silence for her heart, time with The Lord, I think maybe there was even a work out in there? In short Nancy had a morning routine that sounded pretty darn good and I wanted my own slice of that. I wanted the Nancy Ray Morning with a side of fries so when I got home from North Carolina that first time I was a speaker I gave it a shot. I actually gave it a shot for over a year, trying my best to fit all of Nancy’s essentials into MY day. And well you can see where I am going with that. I failed miserably.
Nancy’s day works wonderfully for her because she’s figured out what she needs to start her day off on the right foot. For me to try and fit Nancy’s ideal morning into my life would be like me trying to fit perfectly into Nancy’s custom tailored wedding gown. Or vice versa. Again it hit me one day when I realized Nancy’s point isn’t that her day is the solution for everyone but that finding a day that works best for YOU, is.
So I changed my thinking a bit. And here we are!
• My number one strategy for having a restful, joyful and productive morning is to leave my phone downstairs. Either on our main living level on silent or even in the basement studio. Sometimes I even turn my phone off completely. For me, my phone and my email can bring me anxiety if I have it near me at all times and it shouldn’t be near me when I’m spending time with my husband or doing things outside of my work. Literally it comes down to physically separating myself from it. When I don’t I fall asleep with my phone in my hand aimlessly scrolling through instagram, I find it hard to fall asleep, I often have pretty vivid dreams and/or insomnia and then even worse, I grab my phone as soon as I wake up and lose track of time in the morning. Starting my day in social media and in my email before I’ve even said good morning to my husband, 10 times out of 10 never ends well. Also just because some people have asked before, my husband does usually keep his phone in our room or in our hallway on vibrate in case there ever in an emergency and someone needs to reach us.
• My second strategy for making the most of my mornings is doing little things to plan ahead the night before. Ashley Brooke and I roomed at a conference together a few years ago and she told me about her childhood memories and nightly ritual of ‘setting herself up for success.’ Her parents would set a timer and for ten minutes she would purposefully prepare for the next day. Pack her backpack, lay out her clothes, whatever. Since then I too have tried to do this as often as I can because the stress of everything hitting me like a ton of bricks in the morning isn’t worth it. Some of my favorites? Downloading my to do list in a notebook on my bedside table pre-sleep, laying out my towel for my bath (I have a hot bath every single morning), picking out my clothes based on the weather and what I have scheduled for the next day, getting a water bottle filled and iced to have on my bedside table so when I wake up it’s there, and making sure Andrew sets his non-phone alarm for 6:30 am. Each day varies a little in terms of when I get up but feeling in control of my morning puts me in a better mind set for the day. Oh! And I make our bed 99% of the time. Andrew and I do this together actually and we still think we’re each better than the other at fluffing the pillows.
• My third strategy is to treat my morning time as leisure time rather than a busy whirlwind of time to prepare for the day ahead. My love language is quality time (and Andrew’s is not!) so I love to take our two hours together in the mornings and treat it as a reward for the day (and he goes along with it bless his heart). Everything from talking in bed before we get out of it, snuggling with Zoe on the bed after she’s woken up from hers, lighting a candle on my bedside table so the scent relaxes me, and even listening to the radio together while we get dressed and then make the bed, is so sweet. Sometimes one of us is off before the other with events or meetings but when we are home together I treasure this time and try to look at it as a gift to be enjoyed together.
• My fourth strategy is a recent one I’ve adopted and I’m not sure if it’s an early mama to be nesting thing or just my organized tenancies but doing a little bit of house work each day rather than devoting an entire Sunday to cleaning house, has been a huge blessing. I used to feel so busy and spread thin that our house would literally look like it was lived in by a family of 6. Dishes everywhere, laundry piled up, the bathroom a mess, work things across the tables, couch, and anywhere but my studio. This made (or rather makes) it very hard to focus on my work and left me feeling very far from at peace in our own home as I was constantly distracted by the mess and chaos. I read a post from Emily recently about her ‘farm chores’ and so loved Emily’s similar approach to doing a little bit each day to treasure more of your time. Laundry on a Wednesday morning? If it’s a quick load why not! A quick push of the vacuum after dinner on Friday? Sure. Running the dishwasher over night so it’s ready to unload in the am? Brilliant. These little yet very intentional steps have saved me tremendous amounts of time and in turn I have come to value our home a little more as a relaxing retreat.
So there you have it! A little glimpse into my morning routine. I would love to hear more of yours too!
Photo by Kelly Sweet Photography.