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Getting off to the right start is all about having the right morning routines in place.
Which sounds better to you?
You drop the kids at school on your way to work, knowing that the beds are all made, there is a load of laundry in the washer, and tonight’s dinner is starting itself in the slow cooker. You had plenty of time for 10 minutes of stretching and light exercise as well as a refreshing shower before getting the kids out of bed. You know that there’s a list of tasks to complete at the office, which you prepped last night before leaving work. Your day has started smoothly, and it feels like it’s going to keep getting better.
You drop the kids at school on your way to work. At home, the kitchen is a mess from the hurried breakfasts, the laundry in spilling out of the laundry room, the beds are unmade, and you forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner. Shower? You’re just grateful for dry shampoo. The day started poorly, and you’re not looking forward to work and having to figure out what you need to be doing today.
I’m guessing you preferred the first scenario. What’s the difference in the two? Routines. Specifically, a morning routine that helps start your day right. I’ve written about morning routine here and here. But my morning routine doesn’t work for everyone.
I encourage you to find a routine that works for you. To help you accomplish that, I’ve created a list of ideas for you to consider adding to your morning routine.
Off To the Right Start | Routine Basics
- Get up early. Especially if you have young children, get up before they do! Getting up before your older children and teens is not so hard – they like to sleep in. But even if you don’t have children yet, or are an empty nester, getting up early prevents the day from slipping away from you. An early start puts you in the company of great men and women through the ages, including Benjamin Franklin, Margaret Thatcher, Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Oprah Winfrey.
- Brush your teeth first thing in the morning. Your mouth dries out and bacteria play havoc with your teeth and tongue during the night. Wash it all away with a good brushing, flossing, and some mouthwash.
- Drink water. You haven’t had anything to drink for 6 to 9 hours. You may not realize it, but your body is thirsty. Give it some good, plain water.
- Take a shower. There is nothing like a good shower to wake you up.
- Get dressed before getting the kids up. This was always important to me. Once they were up the chances of getting time to myself to dress, accessorize, and do hair and make-up without interruption were shockingly small.
- Make your bed. This is a key element of my morning routine. The day feels unkempt if I don’t make my bed. There is something about making my bed that starts my day right. Try it, I think you’ll agree.
- Make the coffee or tea and have a cup – also before waking the children.
- Eat a good breakfast. Don’t indulge in a sugary fix that won’t stay with you. Instead, go for scrambled eggs, peanut butter toast, or steel-cut oatmeal with yogurt.
Off To the Right Start | Spiritual Routines
Don’t forget to allow time for spiritual routines in the
morning. Starting your day with the Lord almost always makes the rest of the day go better. At the very least, if the day goes badly, you’re better able to handle it.
- Read your Bible. Just read a chapter or two from the Word and ask the Lord what take-away He has for you from that passage. Reading about Joseph in prison? The takeaway would be that we can be people of integrity in any circumstances. Reading about Paul’s missionary journeys? The takeaway would be that we should all be sharing Jesus as much as possible with those who don’t know Him.
- Pray. Praying over the concerns you carry around, the events of the day, your children, husband, and church, helps to focus your thoughts on God. He is the Answerer of prayers – so when we pray our attention is drawn to Him
- Review your verses for memorizing, even if it’s only one verse. Review it and think about it and how you can remember that verse when you need it. This only takes two or three minutes, and most people can find that in their morning.
- Read a devotional. Although no substitute for Bible study, a short devotional in the morning can feed your spirit for hours as you go through your day.
Off To the Right Start | Home Care Routines
Taking care of a few basic routines every morning will help you stay on top of two big tasks: laundry and dishes.
- Start a load of laundry. Doing one load a day kept me sane when my children were in middle and high school. I’d start a load before going to work, and then throw it in the dryer as soon as I came home.
- Start dinner. I love my slow cooker. In fact, I own three of them, all different sizes depending on what I’m cooking and for how many people. During our middle-school, high-school, college-classes, working, and baseball season of life, I couldn’t have survived without it. I started dinner in the crockpot at least 3 or 4 days a week. It was ready whenever we were. And since we were often on different schedules, that meant we could eat a hot, home-cooked meal at different times. It cut down on our fast-food expenses and help my get good food into my teens.
- Empty the dishwasher. Then everyone can load their individual breakfast dishes into the dishwasher instead of piling them in the sink or on the counter. You’ll have a tidier kitchen and be ready for the evening dishes when everything is just a bit crazier.
- Clear the kitchen counters after breakfast. A tidy kitchen is so much nicer to come home to.
Off To the Right Start | Routine Add-Ons
Depending on the time you have for the morning, you might want to consider adding one or more of these routines to your morning.
- Review your goals and plans for the week, month, or year. Written goals are not magic and reviewing them regularly increases the likelihood that you will achieve them. Along with brief morning reviews, schedule time for longer reviews, such as quarterly check-ups.
- Read self-improvement books. These can be Christian living books, business books, health books, or organizational books. Whatever type of self-improvement book you choose, reading for 10 to 15 minutes in the morning can get your mindset revved up to tackle that area. Do not use your morning routine time for reading fiction. However, reading a magazine article can be just as helpful, and easy to complete in less time than a chapter of a book.
- Exercise. I personally love to exercise in the morning. However, since my exercise consists mostly of walking outdoors, on cool days I delay my exercise until the temperature rises. On cold days, I do something inside, usually involving a video. When I’m stuck indoors or when the weather is pleasant enough, I exercise in the mornings.
- Journal. Whether you write prayers, thoughts about your day or the day before, plans, goals, or dreams, write something. Try to fill at least one to two pages. Ann Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way recommends three pages a day. I find a typical school theme book is great for this. The sewn binding holds up well, and the slightly smaller pages are not as intimidating to fill.
On another day, we’ll look at evening routines. Your task today is to determine your essential morning routines and stick with them.