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How to Create a Morning Routine (Without Waking up Earlier)

Want to create a morning routine, but not sure where to start? Do you have little kids and need to carve some time out for yourself, but not sure how? I can help you get started!

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of creating a morning routine for awhile now. I have three kids (ages 11, 8 and 4), and for most of their lives, I’ve just been pretty much winging it. For the most part, I got up when they woke me up (always too early!), and just mainly felt like I was one step behind all the time. I felt like I could never get anything done, like I never had any time to myself, and like it was never going to get any better.

Sound familiar?

Well, my youngest got accepted into preschool this year (afternoon program through the elementary school, yay!) and as summer was winding down, I knew that this was going to be the year.

Its time to start having some structure, some routine, some progress.

how to create a morning routine

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The Birth of a Morning Routine

I heard about the book Miracle Morning, and totally bought into the idea of creating a morning routine. In the book, the author advocates doing 6 things every morning, he calls them S.A.V.E.R.S.: silence, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and scribing (writing). The book is incredibly hacky, and feels like you’re reading an infomercial for a self help seminar, and I only made it half way through.

But! I got what I needed: the idea that I could create a morning routine with a handful of simple tasks and feel good about it, and consequently, feel good about my grasp on my life.

It helped to recognize that I don’t need like two hours of alone time in order to do a morning routine, in Miracle Morning, he suggests doing those 6 tasks for about 10 minutes each. That’s doable!

I came up with a list of things I wanted to do for my own morning routine:

  • Scripture study
  • Prayer
  • Meditation/Affirmations
  • Exercise
  • Write in journal
  • Start a load of laundry and/or dishes
  • Get dressed for the day

Having read Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, (which I totally DO recommend!) I know a thing or two about creating habits. Well, at least on an intellectual level, lol.

Implementing a Morning Routine

When school started, I gave myself a week or so to figure out who needed to be where and when. This year, I have three kids starting school at three different times. So I wrote out when each kid needed to be woken up, out the door, and how much time we needed between the two.

I came up with:
6:15am wake up Paige (8yrs)
6:32am Paige out to the bus
7:30am wake up Leah (11yrs)
8:15am take Leah to school
10:55am bus arrives for Tyler (4yrs)

I could have been really annoyed that I was spending almost 5 hours getting kids out the door every morning, because on paper, that’s what it was. And I knew that if I wasn’t intentional about utilizing my time, it would feeeeeeeel like freaking 5 hours of getting kids out the door everyday.

Finding the time for a morning routine

So instead, I looked at the pockets of time that I had and what habits I wanted to start doing, and started plugging things in. It took a bit of brain juice to figure out what could be done when. I knew I couldn’t shower first, because I also wanted to exercise and I didn’t want to get sweaty after showering, duh. And I couldn’t exercise until my youngest was either at school or my oldest was awake to keep an eye on him. I knew that I wanted as much peace and quiet for scripture study as possible.

Tyler, my youngest, is not very predictable with his wake-up time, so I knew I needed to accommodate things for him depending on whether he wakes up before everyone, or somewhere in the middle. This year, he has become a little more independent and less demanding, so he will sit and eat breakfast or watch a show or play Legos in the playroom while I’m getting the older kids ready and out the door.

I am FULLY aware that some kids will not leave mom alone for 30 seconds, and its rough. I feel you. I’m not above bribery, sticker charts, or electronics to help make mornings go more smoothly! For more ideas, you can check out my post on Keeping Toddlers Busy.

What my morning routine looks like

6am my alarm goes off and I snooze or read on my phone for a few more minutes
6:15am wake up Paige
–Help her get breakfast, make her lunch and send her out the door at 6:30
6:35am Fix morning shake and study scriptures, pray, meditate (for one minute using the breathe app on my apple watch!)
7:15am Wake up Leah and change into running clothes
–Make sure Tyler is situated with breakfast and a show
7:30am Out the door to run/walk around my neighborhood for 30 mins
8:00am Help Leah get ready, pack her lunch etc. (load DW if there’s time)
8:20am Leave for school carpool
Home by 9am
–Breakfast
–Start a load of laundry or dishes, straighten kitchen, etc.
–Head upstairs to the shower and get dressed
10:45am Make sure Ty is dressed and we go outside to wait for the bus
11am-2:30pm Write and work on my blog, run errands, etc.

It usually goes pretty smoothly, although sometimes I’m a few minutes late leaving for a run, or I snuggle Tyler and cut my scripture study a bit shorter. But most school days, I’m super pleased how its working out. I’ve done my morning routine every weekday for over a month now. That’s a win for this mama!

Tools for Successful Morning Routines

Obviously you don’t need anything in particular to create a morning routine. It’s like having a baby, you technically don’t need any extra gadgets or cutesy things. But they sure are fun! And sometimes a fun purchase is a good way to get some energy going on a new project. Here are my ideas, followed by my 7 best tips and a bunch of morning routine ideas to get you started!

Apple Watch

This is my first year with an Apple Watch (a old hand-me-down 1st generation model, but it works!) and it is LIFE CHANGING. Being able to check the time, my texts, track my exercise, use the meditation app, timers, everything. I have multiple alarms set to keep me on task, and help me get the kids out the door on time. And I can just hit “stop” on my watch instead of tracking down my phone. I know I’m probably the last person in the world to realize this, but whatever. I’ve joined the Apple Watch club. I am HOOKED. I feel like I’m more efficient and less tied to my phone. Which is what we all want, right?

Planner

I have a gorgeous Simplified daily planner, gifted from my favorite MIL. Every day has a column for the schedule and a column for tasks. I fill in my morning habits everyday, so I can have the pure satisfaction of checking them all off! But it helps to see it on paper, to reinforce the routine. Most evenings, I take a few minutes before bed to write out my morning routine and any other to-do’s that I can get out of my head and on to paper. I highly recommend it!

Some cute workout clothes

I know, this isn’t essential. But I wasn’t an exerciser (I barely consider myself one now!), so buying a few new items helped me get excited about exercising. I really like Old Navy’s active wear, especially these shorts and these shorts. Its almost leggings season here in the south, and I really like Nike’s Epic Run tights because they have a drawstring to help them stay in place. I can’t find them anymore, sadface. But I also like these from Old Navy.

A morning drink

For some people, its coffee. Others have no problem popping a Diet Coke at 7am. I have been doing the keto diet for a couple months, so I have been drinking a chocolate MCT shake, made with hot almond milk and a splash of heavy cream and this Keto MCT powder. I make it as I’m getting Paige ready for school at 6:30, and I sip it while I’m doing my scripture study. Its like sipping hot chocolate! I know its not a deal breaker, but its a cozy part of my routine.

New Journal

I am a SUCKER for a cute new notebook. I will take any excuse to buy a beautiful blank notebook, promptly use the first half dozen pages and then forget about it. Haha I also leave the first page blank, which probably says something about my personality? All kidding aside, if you are wanting to incorporate journaling or writing into your morning routine, a journal with daily writing prompts can be a great starting point!

My top tips for creating a morning routine

I’ve come up with a handful of tips on creating your morning routine. Many of them are ideas from Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better than Before, which is all about establishing habits. I read it years ago, but her ideas stuck with me, and I have put many of her suggestions to good use!

Start with one thing and then build on it

It feels a little intimidating to try and go from totally winging it every morning to 90 minutes of peaceful devotionals and self improvement time, lol. Don’t try to eat the elephant in one bite! Pick one area that might be the easiest to start doing and start there. Once you’ve got some good momentum going, you can build on that and add another habit into the routine.

It’s helpful to tie it in to a habit you’ve already mastered. Like if you’re good about praying on your knees every morning, add on meditation right after! Change to a sitting position after your prayer and do a quick meditation session. Even one minute of deep breaths and intentional thinking (or clearing your mind) is beneficial. Or try making yourself load the dishwasher after breakfast. Bring the laundry downstairs with you when you come down to study. Something tied to a task that’s already in your routine.

In time, you’ll be able to fit in all the things you want to. I finally added meditation in the last couple of weeks. I just use the breathe app on my Apple Watch and focus on a phrase while taking deep breaths for a minute. Someday it may turn into more of a meditation practice, but this works for now!

Have one place to do the majority of it

I’m fortunate to have a room in our house that I use as my office, downstairs near the kitchen. I have a desk that always has my open planner, computer, scriptures and a few of my folders and notebooks. Awhile ago, I bought a cute pineapple lamp, and it really gives me warm fuzzies to sit down in the dark morning and turn on my cute lamp. I do my scripture study, prayer, meditation, and writing all at my desk.

Having one place to do the majority of your routine cuts down on transition time. You’re able to go from one task to the next without a lot of time lost.

my desk for my morning routine
My actual current desk, not tidied up or staged for some fancy influencer photo, lol. Its a clean bright and colorful space that makes me happy. (Even with the dying plant, haha.)

If you don’t have an office, find a quiet spot and set it up for success. Good chair, warm blanket for chilly mornings and a side table with scriptures and journal. Or the kitchen table works too! Just pick a spot and let it help you be consistent.

Have a buddy to cheer you on

I’m all about social accountability, and totally thrive on praise. haha Luckily I have a friend (hey Suesan!) who is always supportive of my crazy ideas and plans. Its nice to have someone to text and celebrate your little wins. I literally texted her and two other friends the morning that I went out and exercised for the first time in like years. It was a pretty big deal, lol.

Maybe a friend or sibling has been meaning to start a morning routine too, and you can cheer each other on. It really does help!

Plan enough time for transitions and interruptions

Nothing goes as planned, that’s life as a mom, right?! So don’t try to plan your morning so tightly that you can’t take a few minutes to snuggle with a sleepy kid, or help a tween finish up a forgotten assignment. Priorities, right?

But I think on paper we believe we can do one thing from 7-7:15 and then another thing from 7:15-7:45. When in reality, you can’t start that second thing until closer to 7:18 because you’ve got to walk upstairs (picking up a few toys along the way). You know? So be generous in the amount of time you allot.

It helps to tie a few tasks to a particular time, and tie some tasks to a particular order, regardless of the time. For example, I always run from 7:30-8 because I want to get in 30 mins of exercise (to hit the ring on my apple watch! lol) and I need to be back by 8 to help my oldest finish getting ready for school. It’s a firm time. But meditation and prayer is more flexible, it just happens right after scripture study, which takes 5 minutes some days and 20 minutes other days. But the three things happen in the same order.

A lot of this is also keeping a good perspective and not getting frazzled if there’s a bump in the road. Some mornings, the order of things may need to change, or it may need to wait til after the kids get to school or when the littlest is napping. No big deal.

You don’t have to wake up insanely early

I think this idea is part of why I hadn’t created a morning routine before now. I don’t really love waking up early! I’ve seen other moms advise getting up at 5am or even 4am to do a morning routine. But oh man, that is not for me. I get up when I have to wake up my kid for school. I may someday bump the alarm earlier, if I want to add anything else to my routine, or if I decide to do a gym membership or something. But for now, I’m not waking up any earlier than I have to, and I’m still able to squeeze in all the things I want to. You can too!

Help kids be self sufficient

I would venture to say that one of the hardest parts of creating morning routines as a mom is the unpredictable kid factor. We helped our two oldest create morning checklists for themselves, so they can remember all the things they need to do to get ready for school without needing to be nagged. We have given them the space to do what they deemed necessary in the order they think makes sense, and I think its really helped them step up and take ownership of getting ready for school. Sometimes I will remind them of something if needed, but for the most part we’re trying to help them do it on their own.

Even the littlest can learn to be self sufficient. They can turn on the tv and watch a show by themselves, haha. I joke, but I’m also kind of serious. I’m fine with morning cartoons for my preschooler while I study scriptures or go on a run (while my oldest keeps an eye on him).

Be kind to yourself, life is a seasons thing

Does your mom tell you that too? That life is a seasons thing, and maybe now is not your season? Lol But its true. If you’ve got a 4 month old and 2 year old triplets, now may not be your season for an elaborate morning routine. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never have a morning routine, it just means that now is not the time. Maybe try to start one habit. Meditating while feeding the baby first thing in the morning. A goal to shower before noon. Its alllll good. When the time is right, you’ll know and you’ll be able to get a routine started. Give yourself some grace and patience.

Morning routine ideas

Are you ready to create your own morning routine? Grab some paper and get started! Here are some ideas:

  • Scripture study
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Affirmations (especially ones that help develop an abundance mindset!)
  • Exercise
  • Journaling
  • Breakfast
  • Shower/ready for the day
  • Planner time/calendaring
  • Household tasks (start a load of laundry, empty DW, etc)

I’d love to help you get started! You can email, message or comment with questions!

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Marilee Blonquist

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

You are so great! Lots of great ideas, without any guilt for not already having great habitsand routine already established. Thanks for sharing!

Suesan

Friday 1st of November 2019

Woot! I got a shout out! You’ve given me some great ideas to start working on a better morning routine myself. I love how you’ve been able to make this work for you. Keep being awesome!

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