Starting the day on the right foot – the importance of having a solid morning routine

A few weeks back I had a listen to The Power of A Morning Ritual from the Accidental Creative. I was at a point where I often found myself frantic, scattered and overwhelmed in the morning which made me irritable and unpleasant the rest of the day. Mornings around here can get pretty busy. Mer is up and trying to get ready for his work day while I’m mostly dealing with Margs on my own (who wakes up FULLY energized and ready to rock) which leaves very little time to wake up, focus and start the day off on the right foot.

For quite some time, we had a great system going. She’d wake up and we’d cuddle in bed together for a good while before we all headed downstairs to get a start on our day. Recently though, she’s decided that once her eyes open she’s got to get right out of bed and mosey on down the stairs. This leaves very little time for me to do anything for myself since before I know it I need to whip breakfast together, change her diaper/clothes and start moving and shaking to keep up with her.

The Accidental Creative podcast was really eye opening and helped me realize how badly I needed to nail down a realistic morning routine that would help me start the day on a positive note instead of a frantic, scattered and impatient one. Does anyone else feel like their morning flow somehow predicts how the rest of the day will go?

Todd Henry talks a lot about centering yourself in the morning. To do this, he suggests waking up at the same time every morning and essentially taking the time to just sit and be with your thoughts. He outlines his process with includes things like reading, clearing your mind, reflecting and writing. Although inspiring and likely very beneficial for him, I didn’t necessarily feel that his approach was a good fit for my current lifestyle.

What did stick though was his idea that we need a predictable period of time to be alone. In my case, waking up with Margs as opposed to before her gave me basically zero opportunities to just sit and be still with my own thoughts or to do basic things like shower and get dressed for the day.

Inspired by this idea ofΒ  “predictable periods of alone time” I set out to create a morning routine that would help me refocus my energy in the morning and start things off on a better foot. I’ve been following this routine for roughly 2 weeks and although I’m sleeping less I feel far more energized and ready to take on the day. Below is a rough idea of my morning ritual which is really quite simple and so far has been really effective.


I wake up before Margs. Margs wakes around 7 am and to give myself ample time to complete my routine I set my alarm for 5:30 am to give myself roughly 1.5 hours of alone time at the start of my day.

I sip my coffee while listening to podcasts for 30 minutes. I’ve gone so far as preparing my coffee pot the night before so as not to waste any precious alone time in the morning. Sipping coffee and listening to inspiring podcasts helps me stay motivated and set realistic goals.

I write down 3 simple goals for the day. This step has proven to be the most important part of my ritual. Since I’m home with Margs, I’ve started to realize that I’d often get through the day coasting on mommy auto-pilot without necessarily achieving any specific goals. I’m a goal setter by nature and I felt like there was something missing from my day to day life. Now, I set 3 goals that I look forward to accomplishing each day. The goals can vary depending on what my day/week looks like but ultimately they make me feel better, more accomplished and motivated. Today’s goals included: calling a friend who has been struggling to let her know I was thinking of her, creating digital copies of important household documents and completing one creative activity with Margs. I accomplished all 3 and it felt really great to know that I followed through on 3 things that wouldn’t normally be part of my daily life.

I shower and get dressed. This is self explanatory I think. Having the time to take a proper shower and get dressed makes a world of difference in my mood. Some mornings were so busy that I’d only get the opportunity to shower and or get out of pajamas during Margs’ mid morning nap. Being dressed and ready to face the day before she even wakes up is really a game changer.


What does your morning routine look like?





  1. I want you to know your not alone! I often feel like I’ve failed my family somehow if I don’t wake up with a smile on my face bright and cheery after a nights sleep. I don’t want to blame my children for my mood for the day but my daughters attitude in the morning really seems to set the tone for me. When she wakes up and is a miserable thing fighting about what to wear or eat for her lunch that day it really makes it difficult to wake up properly and positive. I think this is a wonderful idea to have time to yourself that you can look forward to each morning and maybe something worth trying! Especially with baby #3 on the way! Yikes 😬

  2. Recently when my baby gets up for her feed at 6am I don’t bother going back to sleep with her – I put her back in her crib around 6:45 and that gives me a least a little while before I need to get up the monster and get him going for the day. And I agree that even a little bit of alone time is such a sanity saver.

  3. I like morning routine to a certain extent, like starting with a coffee before anything, reading through news in Flipboard and let cats assholing me after they got their meal. I couldn’t start a day on any other way. Especially coffee is critical part…well, 5x a day.

    1. The 3 goals are my favorite part. Being a stay at home mom means that some days I have nothing concretely established as goals. This really helps me keep focus and get things done.

    1. My advice to you is pick something simple that you can follow through on each day. I’m really finding that it makes a difference for me so I’m excited to keep at it.

  4. I remember those days. They were the ones where my daughter (Jenny by the way) used to rule my day and even night hours. I was on HER schedule instead of setting one for myself as well.
    We all have to compromise when we have kids. Nothing remains the same, of course. However, I did realize that she ruled the roost so to speak and I needed to set her off into a morning routine as well.
    They say that kids tend to get more active just before a “growth spurt” (can be a learning curve as well) and that they do calm down again. In my case, I had to calm her down and get her into a morning routine that would allow me to have one as well. I was also missing sleep and didn’t last long, doing what you’re doing. I’m hoping it works out for you though! πŸ™‚ As rambunctious as they can be as toddlers or babies, (I haven’t read enough of your blog to know her age), they can adapt to “routines” somewhat too. Perhaps, a bottle or sippy cup of something ready for her with tv on or music or something to occupy her while you take a bit of time to wake up? Taking her into the bathroom with you while you shower or, perhaps….showering the night before your bed time? Having your coffee ready as you’ve said you already do? You shouldn’t have to miss sleep or if you need that time in the morning and it’s working for you, making sure you’re in bed earlier by that much as well, might lead to a better situation for both of you?
    My routine now (Jenny is now 34 years old and living elsewhere and I’m retired…well, sort of), is to get up, (I shower before bed, helps me sleep and relax to sleep) get dressed, get my tea and get onto the computer or into a book or journal thoughts and ideas and wait until the caffeine kicks in. I usually spend about 45 minutes to an hour if I can. Then, it’s off to the races, doing what I need to do for the day.
    By the way, I think we never grow out of both a morning and bed time routine. πŸ™‚
    Did I just write another blog here? I think I did. πŸ˜‰

  5. I agree that morning routines matter and are a good way to start the day. I get up at 4:30 on the days I go to office and up at 5:30 on the other days. I usually set out my workout clothes the night before so I can grab them, head to the bathroom, and then downstairs for a run on the treadmill or some yoga. Morning exercise boosts my mood a lot. I too get less sleep but feel better!

    1. I think the separation and the time away to just be “us” is such an enormous mood booster isn’t it? Even though I’m getting less sleep I feel like the positive energy that comes from following this routine is a huge pay off and so so worth it.

  6. I love the sound of this. This will be a goal for myself when my baby is a bit older. Currently I’m still spending the nights on the floor of her nursery and I wake when she wakes at 6am. I REALLY want to do this alone time thing though. I can see it really helping me.

    1. I find it really helpful. Having said that I don’t think this would have worked until she was probably 8-9 months old since her sleep was unpredictable before.

  7. I love the routine that you have set up. And you are totally right, the morning sets the stage for the rest of the day for the whole family. I have a fairly structured morning in order to get my oldest up and on the school bus on time. But I make sure that I get up 10-15 minutes before her and at least get my first cup of coffee poured before it is go time.

  8. 5:30am! You’re an inspiration! I agree with all of this in principle but when it comes down to it, there I am in the morning, every ounce of my being fighting to stay asleep as my bubba chatters away crawling on top of me. Ahhhhhhh πŸ˜‚

  9. This is a great post, I have started laying out the kids breakfast bowls and spoons with their own individual milk bottles (which I pour in the morning) so that I can get ready and have my coffee without sorting them as well then we all get dressed and go. On the rare occasion that I am up first, I thoroughly enjoy sitting alone in my living room, reading, or even doing some work, catching up on TV and having coffee. I must check out that podcast. Thanks!

  10. I think you’ve been mind reading again. I have been thinking more and more about morning routine. or rather my complete lack of. Two years into SAH Motherhood, I miss so much any sense of routine. my daughter has always been a bad sleeper, so the idea of waking before her seemed bonkers, I needed to grab every last second of rest on offer. But now she is sleeping a *little* better, i think I am going to try and set that alarm, and carve out a tiny square of ‘me time’. I will keep you posted!!

    1. I try πŸ˜‰

      I’m really pleased so far. At first I thought it was nuts to actually consciously decide to sleep less but I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it feels to pull myself together BEFORE she wakes up! Let me know how it goes!

  11. I agree this is so important. Even if I just have 30 minutes before anyone wakes up and also 30 minutes after everyone goes back to bed so that I can get back to myself and not necessarily my role as a wife and mother but just me.

  12. I’ve never been able to have a morning routine ( even when the kids were little ). I am not a great sleeper and more of a night owl so I had my “alone” time in the night. It took me a long time to realize that it was ok ( instead of having a morning routine ) but luckily, we have all survived. I think it’s great that you have found something that works for you and your family. That is so important! <3

    1. To each their own! If you’re more of a night person then go for it! I’m absolutely more of a morning person so this works quite well for me! Whatever works right?

      1. So true. If I have learned anything ( which I hope I have πŸ™‚ ) is that one size does not fit all though I see life would be way easier with a morning routine that a night routine for Moms with babies. πŸ™‚

  13. I can’t start the day without my coffee and some me time. I usually drink my coffee while catching up on the news and reading some blogs. I then feel happy to get myself ready and off to work for the day. My children are now young adults and don’t require me in their morning preparations, so this does take the pressure off. I’ve just discovered your blog and love it! You have another follower.

  14. Great article! I always wake up half an hour before my kids and have some coffee, otherwise I am not nice to be around! We all need alone time, no matter how much we love our kids:-) It simply makes me a better mum!

  15. I use the concept of three “to do” list items at work. I call it a MIT list (which I had read somewhere but can’t remember where) – Most Important Things. If I can only accomplish three things that day, those are the three things. It helps keep me focused throughout the chaos and fire drills of the day.

    1. YES! I used to use this idea with my students actually. We’d have a 10 minute reflection/meditation at the beginning of our class and I would ask them to make 3 goals for themselves for that day. It really helped focus them!

  16. Wow! I absolutely love this process. I started trying to get up and spend 5 minutes just free writing a while ago, but that fizzled out. Lately I’ve just felt so drained that I can’t seem to force myself to get up any sooner than I have to. My work schedule doesn’t help, with swing shifts that don’t allow me to get in a regular habit for longer than 3 or 4 days. I totally agree that a good morning routine helps, but I just can’t seem to get myself in one. I’m planning on moving soon, so I don’t want to buy anything big, but I know I need a new mattress to help me sleep better. I want to wait until after I move so I don’t have to cart a mattress with me, I can just get the new one once I get to the new destination and leave the old one behind, but until then, my sleep isn’t going to improve. I’m hoping once the weather starts getting consistently nicer, I’ll want to wake up a little earlier. I’m not promising anything, but I hope it helps! πŸ™‚

    1. I find it really helps. The weather has actually been getting a little nicer recently which really helps with getting up earlier. It takes some adjusting for sure. Some mornings I look at the clock and have the desire to just roll over and go back to sleep but then remind myself that I’ll feel so much better if I follow through on it.

      Good luck with the upcoming move!!!!!

  17. It is best to wake up and enjoy your first waking thoughts whatever they are. If you wake anxious tell yourself that you will look after you today and make yourself smile. Keep your inner dialogue positive and Yes to a morning ritual – I like Whittards tea leaves in a China pot with cup & saucer

  18. Morning routines are super important! It sounds like you are making great progress. I love the part about setting 3 goals each day. My mornings are spent on helping my daughters stick to their routines and hoping I can get one cup of coffee while it is still hot and fresh.

  19. It’s super healthy for your body and mind to be on a morning and evening routine. When your body gets used to it, you feel more rested and not so much out of wack. I shoild start making gosls of the day list. I like your thinkingπŸ‘

  20. A good start in the morning can really make or break my day! I find it tough to get up early because my teen wants to stay up and watch a couple of TV episodes with me at night. Of course there are always a few things to finish before bedtime and before I know it, it’s quite a bit past the time I wanted to be in bed. *sigh* I’m still working on it…

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