Perfect Morning Routines Don’t Exist for Parents
My typical morning begins anytime from 1–5 am when my daughter scares the bejeezers out of me by standing next to my face in the dark saying “I had a nightmare mum”.
At that point we have 2 choices: let her stay. Or walk her down the hallway back to her room.
The first choice means we don’t sleep all night. Because when she clambers into our bed, she splays herself out as if she’s the Queen of England on her own king-sized bed — our bed is a queen and at that point, there are 3 of us sardined in it.
I try desperately for the next 3–4 hours to get back to a light sleep (deep sleep, what’s that?) — while she kicks me painfully in the kidneys and sleeps on top of me, breathing heavily in my face.
The other choice is to reluctantly drag ourselves out of a half decent sleep in our deliciously toasty bed, to walk out in the cold, dark, long hallway to her room. And stay with her until she falls asleep. Then creep out half an hour later, wide awake and with no damn hope of falling asleep for the rest of the night.
Of course, by the time my husband’s 5.30am alarm rolls around, I usually haven’t gotten much more sleep since 1 am.
I drag myself out of bed, crankily reminding my precious to get started on her morning list. Yes, she has one — mine got scrunched and slam dunked into the bin 6 years ago.
The rest of the morning is spent repeating myself about 100 times in a crescendo-ing voice (yes I just made up that word. It’s proven, creatives come up with awesome stuff when sleep deprived).
Then having to stand like a British guard watching her while she gets dressed.
“Brush your teeth. Brush your teeth. Teeth Adele…”
“Stop getting off the chair Adele”
“Clean up the mess. Shoes on. We’re going in 5 minutes. 2 minutes. 1 minute.”
“You’re kidding, you need to go to the bathroom now?!! The traffic is a nightmare. Ohh we’re gonna need a late pass. Definitely no monkey bars before school.”
Somehow I’m supposed to get myself ready in between the herding…
Yes, she’s physically capable. Most of the time. Yes, she can talk. Yes, she does understand what I’m saying.
Someone give me a shot of whiskey. Now!!
The perks of gorgeous morning routines
Psychologist Ron Friedman in Harvard Business Review tells us our first three hours after waking up are important.
“…if we end up squandering those first three hours reacting to other people’s priorities for us, which is ultimately what voice mail, or email is, is a list of other people’s requests for our time, that ends up using up our best hours and we’re not quite as effective as we could be”
He speaks about willpower and waking up to exercise at a ‘time where it feels the most fun’.
Peace and purpose. Ohh Jeff, I too wish for peace and purpose every morning…
“In our busy lives, sometimes we need to do a few things by rote simply to ensure they get done. Otherwise, you spend the rest of the day playing “catch up.”
Oh no… what has my life come to?
I dream about lovely morning routines
There’s a wonderful collection of advice about morning routines.
(I’d like to build a million-dollar routine to get my kid out the door every morning without me having to do a thing.)
A few suggestions on these joyful morning routine to-do lists are to: meditate, make the bed, ignore our phone (or avoid our inbox), work out, do something escapist (like reading), skip the shower, drink bulletproof coffee (yes it’s a thing), and listen to songs on repeat.
Morning routines like these are ideal.
I remember the days when I leaped out of bed all perky and fresh at 5 am for a run followed up by weight training and a stretch, a shower, breakfast, then personal training clients at 7 am — all before my full-time job.
My mistake. That couldn’t possibly have been me.
Fast forward to today, and we’re a model household of imperfect morning routines.
My imperfect morning routine
I can’t remember what it was like to have a calm morning routine. Here’s what I do manage most days — in between the shenanigans my daughter kindly delivers us each morning:
Make the bed, not check social media 4 days a week, drink 2 glasses of warm water, and get school lunch and breakfast ready.
Am I meant to play catch up every day for the next 20 years?
Are we, parents doomed to an uncreative, unfulfilling, second-rate life until our kids finally get their shit in order on their own every morning?
What are we meant to do with our consistently crazy mornings?
Forgive. Accept. Surrender.
The theme of my yoga flow class this morning.
It reminds me that we are all where we are meant to be at every moment.
Let’s forgive ourselves for losing our shit most mornings.
Let’s accept that we’re doing the best we can.
Let’s surrender to our imperfect, noisy, insane mornings.
Who else has trouble with perfect morning routines?
Your routine may not be as calm and purposeful as you’d like. It’s not perfect, but perhaps like you, I’ve decided perfection is overrated and is no longer welcome in my world.
My day heads uphill the moment I dig myself out of my grumpy mood. Sometimes it’s on the way to school where I have a serious chat to my daughter about why we have to re-live groundhog day every morning.
Other times, it’s after school drop off when I put on a podcast or blast my favorite tunes. Anything to change my state of mind.
Parents, let’s take on board all the superb routine morning advice. Take what fits. Toss what doesn’t.
Roll with your crazy mornings. Laugh — because if you don’t, you’ll most certainly cry. Look at your little ones in wonder. And love.
Let the shenanigans go now and then. Be content knowing that not every battle can be won.
Forgive. Accept. Surrender.
And have a wonderful day.