4 Reasons for a Morning Routine

The door is rattling, it’s 5:34am, the two year old is awake and ready to start his day. I am in bed wishing that for just one morning 6:30 would be considered an appropriate time to rise and shine. Finally, I stumble down the hall to open the bedroom door.

reasons for a morning routine

“Mama” he calls out with his arms up. This is the point where, depending on the day my mood, my heart melts at his loving cry or I feel utterly deflated. Knowing that “my time” is gone, I sometimes set him up at my desk to watch Curious George on my computer so that I can steal away a few more moments of sleep. Sometimes, I give him an applesauce cup at the table so that I can get in some time on the computer before my daughter awakens.

Before I know it, everyone is up and ready for me to make breakfast or coffee or help is needed with getting dressed. I make coffee while my hubby is the shower. I find clothes and dress my son. Then, I usually make eggs or pour cereal into bowls for breakfast for the kids and myself (hubby is not a traditional breakfast eater so I’ll make guacamole or he’ll heat up leftovers).

Back to my desk: I want to plan my day, read my Bible, prepare for lessons, and play a little bit in blog-land (reading and writing). A little while later I realize that I have spent entirely too much time at my desk… and I haven’t even showered or dressed myself. Stress and worry ensue. This is NOT how I want to begin my day.

My routine (the one that is written down, not the one that I practice) begins with making coffee, making my bed, making lunches, putting away dishes, and getting dressed by seven o’clock. Then by eight I want to have read my Bible, checked email, and finished doing what I do on the computer. At eight I can begin breakfast and finish chores such as laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning the bathroom. It’s better to get all that stuff done early so I don’t have to worry about it. If this is all complete by 9:00am when I like to begin school, then I’m a happy camper.

Now that is all great, but over the last couple of months it just was not working for me anymore. I questioned why it wasn’t working and what I needed to change to make it actually feel like I am accomplishing my tasks and getting ready for the day in a reasonable amount of time – AND how to do all of this with little to zero stress.

Reflecting upon my routine made me realize that I had not factored in a very important piece, or two important pieces who run around with wants and needs calling me Mommy. My “perfect” routine consisted of me doing desk duties, things that tend to require a little more focus, right in the middle of the morning scramble! No wonder things aren’t working.

Here are 4 reasons for a morning routine:

1. To ensure that quiet time with God happens. Every day.

2. To provide a time to shower and get dressed. Because we moms tend to spend more time on the little people in our lives. And let’s be honest, making an effort to be dressed (sweats don’t count) can really boost your confidence and make you feel super terrific.

3. To prepare and plan for my day. The day just works better when I know what’s on the agenda.

4. To complete a few key tasks. There are a few which can help keep the day moving along smoothly if they are done ahead of time.

These are things that have to happen to start the day right. And these reasons are why it’s so important for me to attain a working morning routine.

Routines don’t have to be confined to strict time limitations, but they do provide structure. This framework creates a flow or rhythm: do task one, do task two, etc. Once in place, a routine naturally gets you doing what needs to get done. You know what is first, what’s next, and what’s last. Chaos is avoided because you and your kids know the order things should go. Without a routine you never know what you’re gonna get.

Stick with me to see what changes I’ve made in my morning routine in an upcoming post.

But for now… Do you have a morning routine? How do you start your day?

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What I Have Learned: Meal Planning and Expectations

Before beginning any task or job you have to know what is expected of you. How is this task supposed to be done? What should be the end result?

Once, I took a job as an assistant to a real estate agent. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of what it meant to be a real estate agent and eventually be all on my own. I loved the idea of working with people to help them find their home. But, after I started working with this agent I realized that I really didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing. I felt like I was doing an awful job. And this was difficult for me to understand, at first, because I have always been a good employee. Finally, I recognized that this working relationship was lacking expectations. He didn’t tell me what or how he wanted things done and I didn’t ask (which was naivety on my part).

Earlier I talked about how I refuse to fail at my job as mom and wife, particularly when it comes to meal planning. As of late, planning and preparing meals has been super stressful for me. We go through phases of eating healthy and purposefully to eating whatever makes it to the table. I lose my oomph and fail to come up with something creative. When I try something new and it doesn’t come out so great then I become discouraged. Then, I am so hard on myself (as a lot of moms are) that I tend to not do anything at all, I don’t even know where to begin.

meal planning expectations

So, the first step is to know what is expected of me. What is the goal of meal planning and how should this be done? For our family, in this household, the goal of planning meals is to ensure that there are healthy foods available and that a nutritious dinner is ready in the evening. (And of course to maximize our budget.) Easy enough? Sure. But, what is “healthy?” And when exactly is dinner?

The dinner time question usually irons itself out depending on the season of life we are in. Early in our relationship it was when we got hungry. After our daughter was born my husband worked during the day and I worked at night. Dinner was whenever he made it or heated up leftovers and I ate whenever I got a break at work. When I stopped working after our son was born, dinner was twice a night. Once with me feeding my daughter and myself (baby boy was nursing) and once when my husband was due home from work at eight o’clock at night.

Now that I am a SAHM and my husband is working for himself, dinner is between 4:30 and 5 o’clock, a reasonable and consistent time (yay). And of course your reasonable dinner time can be different from ours. Maybe the time you eat isn’t that important in your family. But that is what spelling out your expectations is all about.

Now to address the “healthy” question: we all have our answer to this and all of our answers can be quite different. Even my definition of healthy and my husband’s are slightly different. We are committed to educating ourselves and sharing with each other our thoughts so that we can be better aligned when it comes to labeling a meal healthy or not so healthy.

We know when we want dinner prepared and we are working towards a unified definition of healthy. It’s time to figure out what we expect to be eating for each meal. I have created a list of foods that work for us. I will be using this list as a guide when planning out the week. For breakfast I have listed things like steel cut oatmeal, eggs, raw juice, and guacamole. Lunch: I have salad and leftovers. For snacks, we need to get away from the prepackaged things like granola bars and such (too much sugar). I want to offer more whole fruits with nuts or nut butters, veggies and hummus, guacamole or salsa with chips, and homemade trail mix. The dinner meals I have listed are Thai and Indian curries, soup, and chicken with veggies.

We also have agreed that what we eat should follow this food pyramid guide by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Veggies are at the bottom consisting of half our intake, then fruits, beans/legumes, and seeds nuts and avocados: leaving whole grains, potatoes, eggs, fish, and dairy towards the top. The very top, the ones to eat sparingly, is beef, sweets, cheese, and of course processed foods. We want to strive for a plant based diet as our staple: as a guide to healthy eating.

Now that expectations have been laid out, it is easier to know what I should be buying at the stores and what I am serving at the dinner table. Understanding what is expected keeps the stress level down and I don’t have to wonder if I am doing a good job.

The Great Laundry Conundrum

washer dryerAre you a do all the laundry in one day kind of person or one load per day kind of person? Over the years I’ve struggled with the laundry. Should I just get it all over with in one day? Should I just do a little bit at a time and perpetually be doing laundry?

I have settled into the decision that I am a do one load of laundry a day kind of person. When I was working, my schedule was never the same from week to week. Add in going to school and making last minute plans with friends and laundry day would never be a day I could count on actually having my laundry cleaned. After having my daughter, forget it, babies somehow create more laundry in two days than my husband and I do in a week.

Doing laundry every day also allows everyone to have clean clothes. It is expected that at some point the washer and dryer will be used in the course of a day and with that laundry requests can be made. Now, I’m not saying that I am going to drop everything to wash somebody’s favorite shirt or that I am at everyone’s beck and call. I’m just saying that because the laundry does get done everyday then the underwear drawer is never empty.

This was not always the case. Yes, there have been times that the underwear drawer has been empty, but mostly because it just hadn’t made it’s way out of the dryer yet. Did I mention laundry has been a struggle for me? Not so much anymore. I have finally found the rhythm to make it work.

I realized this in a conversation with a friend tonight. Somehow we ended up on this subject and she was talking about how she always forgets to put the laundry from the washer to the dryer. I used to always forget. We chuckled about how frustrating it was to come back to have to rewash the load and even then it still didn’t make it to the dryer. Then she asked me “what do you do?”

I told her that usually I put the laundry in the wash in the morning and sometime during the day it would find it’s way to the dryer. That it wouldn’t be too long where it would need a rewash. Upon further reflection, I realized that my rhythm is pretty simple. Basically, after every meal you move the laundry to the next step.

After breakfast I put a load in the washer. After lunch I move it to the dryer. After dinner I move it to a basket. Usually there is a point in time where it gets folded. Sometimes not. Seriously, if there was a “worst chore” list, folding laundry would be my number one. But eventually it gets done: maybe when we are all sitting down watching TV, or maybe I’ll fold while talking to the hubby about the day when the kids are in bed. Once it’s folded, I’m pretty good about getting it to the proper rooms and into the proper drawers.

In this season of life, the laundry trouble is minimal. For now, doing a load of laundry a day is what works for me. Now, when is it that my children can fold and put away their own laundry….?

How is this chore/task done in your house?

P.S. I have learned to hang my laundry on the line during the warmer months, and I take delight in it!

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