003 | The Realistic Mama’s Guide to an Effective Morning Routine

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Hello there!

I hope you’re having a great day today, mama.

I was just thinking about how difficult it is to actually have a great day without some sort of grounding before it really kicks off. It always feels like everything is 10 steps behind whenever I wake up and start 10 steps behind.

Before I became a mom, I never really thought about creating intentional time for myself first thing in the morning. It was already plentiful! 

No way I was gonna wake up at 5am to do what I could do at 7!

After my daughter arrived, her 4:00am nursing sessions led to a groggy back to sleep until 7 routine. Then we flipped around to daycare drop-off and work. 

It wasn’t the most productive I’ve ever been and I’m sure this contributed a lot to feeling like I wasn’t accomplishing anything at all.

But when I had an international work conference call every week at 4:00am on Wednesdays, I realized how much I LOVED getting up early to start my day. How much of an impact it made to me feeling accomplished.

OK, 4:00am was incredibly excessive. I needed naps many of those afternoons because I hadn’t quite nailed the early bedtime routine. But when the call ended at 5:00am and I had the morning to myself before my girl woke up? Priceless.

And I definitely adopted the habit as much as I could … which led to margin in my day, and more importantly, margin within my mind to make things happen!

So in this episode, I’m talking about morning routines and little steps you can take to navigate into your own, even if you aren’t a morning person AT ALL and dread the idea of waking up before the sun!

When I Adopted a Morning Routine in My Life

Even though I learned years ago how important it is to wake up early and be intentional with my morning hours, I haven’t always been able to lean in fully.

My last few years have been an up and down rollercoaster of health inconsistencies. 

About 6 months after learning how much I loved waking up early, I became pregnant again. 

And I was completely, utterly exhausted. Instantly. I couldn’t wake up early for the life of me. 

So for 9 weeks I needed all the sleep I could get … and that’s OK, for the record. Our bodies tell us what it needs, not the other way around. 

But then I learned that the baby I thought I was carrying wasn’t actually there. It was a missed miscarriage and I’d been telling my husband for weeks that something wasn’t right. 

So while it was a shock to have it confirmed, it wasn’t a total surprise to me.

Literally the next day, I felt a fog lift and my energy returned. It’s truly amazing what our bodies can tell us if we’re listening.

With that increased energy and strong intuition to take action, I started my morning routine again. 

But this time, there was a purpose. It wasn’t just “wake up, pause, and go.”

I quickly read Hal Elrod’s “Miracle Morning” and drafted out my own plan.

This was the mental support I desperately needed at this specific time in my life and the simple morning process I followed kept me from drowning in perfection and feelings of failure and lack of control. 

As an Enneagram 1 who takes great pride in being in control and getting everything “right,” I still look back on the time immediately after my miscarriage and wonder how I didn’t lose my ever loving mind. 

I truly think it was my morning routine that kept me fully grounded in reality and faith that something better was coming along.

Regardless of your reasons for pursuing a morning routine right now, I want to share a few of my favorite things about it. Things to plan or look out for as you create your own routine!

Morning Routine Quick Reference Guide

Look Out for Roadblocks

As you’re getting ready to design and follow a morning routine, it’s important to look out for a few roadblocks first. Things that’ll derail you before you even start.

Here are a couple of the big ones I’ve had to attack head on throughout the last few years.

Sleep

The first one is sleep. You might not keep listening after this one, but hear me out. Sleep isn’t something you can just decide to get more of and poof, you’re rockin’ 8 hours a night and fully energized. 

I understand that sleep is suuuuper hard to come by in motherhood. But it’s definitely not impossible.

Since sleep is critical to an energized morning routine, I promise to talk more about this topic. I’ve been successful with a ton of different ways to get more and better sleep so I’ll be sure to share with you soon.

In the meantime, just focus on gradual change towards earlier and, if you need it, longer sleep durations that lead to a wakeup at least an hour before the kids. Work in 5 to 15 minute increments until you’re at your desired sleep window.

If you’re going to bed at midnight right now and waking up at 7am, you’re getting 7 hours, but those same 7 hours from 10:30pm to 5:30am will energize you MORE, believe it or not. I used to consider myself a night owl, but I can say with certainty that this can be switched. 

I’m definitely a morning person now.

But again, this isn’t an overnight flip of the switch. Focus on gradual change over a 3-4 week period until your schedule is shifted.

Leading a productive life filled with margin begins and ends with sleep. Believe it or not, you don’t become more productive for the purpose of getting more sleep. You’ve gotta aim to get more sleep first, so that you can work towards being more productive using the increased energy more effective sleep provides.

So, if you’re not getting enough, it’s time to assess the reasons why and make the shift towards more. It’s so important, mama! 

Distraction

The 2nd potential roadblock for a fulfilling morning routine is waking up to instant distractions.

Specifically, the distraction of seeing all the things to be done that day. Your to do list, dishes piled up from last night’s dinner that you decided to postpone, laundry piles, you know the drill. 

Your morning routine is YOURS, mama! 

You have permission to build some bookends into your routine, like putting the first load of laundry in before beginning and switching to the dryer when you’re done, but you aren’t allowed to spend the whole time catching up on chores. 

I won’t allow it … and you shouldn’t either!

So this distraction is mostly solved by creating a dedicated space for your morning routine and preparing what you need the night before.

Now, let’s discuss what a morning routine might look like for you.

Build A Life-Giving Morning Routine

At the end of the day, your morning routine should consist of exactly what fills your cup. 

There’s no specific routine that you must follow. 

As you hear these next few options, be sure to consider what would be most meaningful to you in your own process!

Whenever I have a clear framework for something, I find it’s so much easier to create a longer term habit. A morning routine is no different.

So here’s Hal Elrod’s, which is pretty simple & straightforward.

  • Silence
  • Affirmations
  • Visualization
  • Exercise
  • Reading 
  • Scribing aka Writing

He calls this his “SAVERS” framework and it’s an excellent place to start. Check out his book here as he digs into tons of great tips & tricks.

But over multiple instances of using his framework to get me going, I’ve figured out what I actually benefit from the most. 

Quick pause for a life lesson → you should challenge everything you hear about morning routines (and all things) so that you can create something that works best for YOU. 

I always want you to use my recommendations as a bouncing off point vs. gospel.

So here’s my ideal morning routine plan along with a few updates that I’m planning to pursue in the coming months. Take what appeals most to you, friend.

Journaling in My Morning Routine

OK, first, journaling. I have an 8.25” x 5” Moleskine journal and each day gets a page. I date the top and journal my intention for the day first. I ask myself “at the end of this day, what will feel like success to me?” It’s not usually a single task, but a purpose for the day.

Once I’ve decided on my intention, I list out my top 2 tasks in each of my major life categories. The categories I track here are my home, day job, and side-hustle. 

Of course, each of these major categories has plenty of sub-categories. I know I’m also leaving lots of other life stuff out, but the goal here is to document my daily MUST DO tasks under each category. If you already joined Camp Clarity, you know that I use Batch Theme Days to be more productive with my time. 

Next up is identifying risks. As a program manager in my day job, nothing is ever guaranteed to go as planned, so I’ve been conditioned to identify risks. It’s been so helpful to write out what might cause problems that day as I work to achieve my goals.

Not only does it help me flip to a problem-solving mentality, but it also helps me become more self-aware of my shortcomings so that I can take action to improve my future.

When I know what might bring me down, I know how to hack my thoughts and prevent it from happening. I talk about this more in Camp Clarity’s 5th lesson on Abundance.

For my final initial journal entry, I document a few positive “cheers,” as I call them. It’s a way to pump me up for the day when my natural inclination is to be a bit more negative and primarily see all the problems.

This daily “cheer” isn’t necessarily an affirmation, but rather something I’ve done well or have nearly achieved. It’s a way to point out that I’m doing the things – showing up and making things happen!

Reading a Book During My Morning Routine

The second stage of my morning routine is reading a chapter in a book. I try not to overcommit to the reading phase of my routine because it can get overwhelming. 

Especially because I love to read and often want to keep going, despite needing to move on! One chapter seems to do the trick.

Usually I choose a personal development book of some kind … totally obsessed with that genre for obvious reasons. 

I’m pretty sure the last time I read anything “for fun” was prior to my daughter being born. It’s totally fine though. I don’t miss reading for fun quite yet. I have other hobbies that serve the same purpose.

But something that’s been on my heart to do for a long time now is to read the Bible from cover-to-cover and actually apply it all to my life as I go. The ultimate personal development book right there!

I’ve tried to read through it in the past, but I just wasn’t connected to my why for doing so, nor did I have a sustainable reading plan, so I barely made it past Genesis.

It took me 35 years to invest in my very own journaling Bible. We have a few already, but I wanted one with whitespace inside. 

I found the most beautiful Christian Standard Version Bible by She Reads Truth

To go with that, I found a brand new reading plan called “The Bible in 52 Weeks: A Yearlong Bible Study for Women” by Dr. Kimberly D. Moore.

And now I think I can actually do this! So my plan is to follow the daily reading every morning in my routine beginning this fall.

So typically, after I read a chapter, I document a quote in my journal that resonates the most with me. Something that calls to my intention of the day or just something I want to remember.

I love how this wraps up my reading with a little bit of extra comprehension that I can refer back to in days ahead.

Silence & Meditation Practice in My Morning Routine

OK, well … the next thing is silence and meditation. 

I’ll just go ahead and admit that I’m not great at relaxing in silence. I’m 100% sure this is just my own personality. 

I know that I eventually want to master this, but my interim solution is to listen to a calming station while I journal and read. I really love Marconi Union on Pandora.

Effectively, I’m blocking out the distractions around me, tuning into the present, and focusing on my journaling and reading practice. My energy seems to fill up the most when I’m brain dumping and learning, so the focus on these two tasks is really where it’s at for me.

I continue to see and hear different things I’d like to add into my morning routine, but we BOTH know that time is limited, so what ends up sticking in your own routine must be that which drives your energy and focus throughout the day the highest!

So after hearing about my own routine, have you started to figure out what yours might look like? 

Or any modifications you’d consider making to your current routine? 

Are you still a little bit stuck on the idea of waking up early?

Set the Stage

OK, well I’m going to assume that you’re convinced and ready to dive into a morning routine. You know that your day will run so much more smoothly when you’ve filled your cup first thing.

With any good (and especially new) routine, it’s important to mentally check in to align. Just a short 5 minute habit checklist of things that’ll remind you that it’s time for your morning routine.

For a quick rewind, as soon as you wake up, what will you do to “set the stage” and mentally prepare and check in for your morning time?

My checklist starts by pulling down the blackout shades in our room, even if that means it’s still as dark as before when we get to the middle of winter. 

Then I sip more of my water from my nightstand. I’ve been meaning to try adding lemon to this and going for a full 8 ounces because it’s so important to flush out overnight toxins and it feels so refreshing!

Next, it’s time to freshen up a bit. I tend to get ready after my morning routine since I work from home full time, so this isn’t a big production. 

You might like getting ready for the day first thing, which is totally fine. 

My husband and I have been talking about doing a cold shower challenge, so getting ready for the day might have a bigger place in my morning routine soon enough!

If you’re the type who likes a fully made bed, then dive into that now too. That alone is such a positive way to start the day! 

But I admit – it’s one thing I drop if I get too excited to go start my day. Out of sight, out of mind.

Finally, I do a little stretching as a final wake up task and then grab my coffee to tee myself up for my official morning time.

Stay Flexible & Shift with the Times

There will be times in your life where you need to shift your routines, so it’s important to remain flexible and open to change. Take what you need from your routines when they’re calm and consistent.

There are two main reasons I’ve had to exit my standard routine for other things. 

First, health issues that required more than average amounts of sleep. Most recently, when I had mono in March 2020 and for a few months later, there was no chance that I was waking up during the 5:00am hour. 

While I didn’t love the loss of my morning routine, I dealt with it. I simply needed sleep more than anything in the world, so I had to take it. 

If your physical body is calling for something other than a full morning routine right upon wake up, then I’d suggest at least taking pause for 5-10 minutes with silence or that Marconi Union radio station I mentioned earlier. 

The second reason I’ve paused my morning routine is to pursue major projects in this business! As a side-hustle, I must fit work into the margins while I navigate my day job. 

So whenever I have BIG projects to pursue, such as preparing for the launch of this podcast a few weeks ago, or writing my own digital course coming soon, I have to eliminate a few things in my day to accommodate the need to get my most important tasks done FIRST thing in the morning.

I do usually come back to the routine later in the day, but not always. It depends on what I need in that moment.

But personal time IS important to me, even as I fill my margin with this business. 

One of my favorite things to do to retain most of my own personal time is to invest in digital courses to help me do ALL things faster & easier. 

It’s basically DIY outsourcing and when you find the perfect course to meet your needs, it makes everything easier and more productive. And you can totally build the learning process into your morning routine! 

I’ve been into this form of outsourcing since my photography business days, and it’s truly the best way to achieve purposeful progress in less time. No need to reinvent the wheel!

With that, be sure to hop over to the episode page at homesweetworklife.com/003 to let me know what your plans are for your new or refreshed morning routine. 

Fall is such a perfect time to reset and lean into a cozy morning routine that fills your cup and prepares you for the day ahead.

Nothing but good things ahead, my friend. Enjoy!

Don’t forget to hit “subscribe” on Apple or Spotify Podcasts.

xo, Jessica

productivity for working moms

welcome!

I'm Jessica!

I used to glorify "busy." If I wasn't busy, I wasn't doing enough. But when I became a mama, my entire outlook shifted.

 

The only way out involved a complete overhaul of my time, money & communication systems.

 

Today, I'm doing LESS and achieving more.

It's a productivity dream!

I'm still learning (and always will be!), but my purpose here is to help YOU achieve this level of space in your life too.

 

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