In the years before I was a mom, I had a lovely morning routine. One palm wrapped around a warm cup of coffee, I’d sit on the comfy couch, still in my pajamas, and scrawl out at least three long-hand “morning pages”—a technique I’d learned from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.
Forcing myself to write out three pages ensured that I got any mental sludge out of the way—the resentments, disappointments or worries that were hanging over me. Doing this first thing in the morning, before I even ate breakfast, meant I was more open, still lingering in dreamland. Oftentimes, after I got my complaints out of the way, other ideas that had been previously lingering in my subconscious had space to surface.
I usually ended my writing with a short gratitude list, and an intention for the day.
It was a kick-ass morning routine.
It felt like the equivalent of a morning shower, a way of starting the day fresh and purposeful.
Then I had kids. Real showers became scarce, let alone a half hour to leisurely write out my frustrations, hopes and dreams.
Within the last year, I’ve created a new morning routine for myself. While I can’t usually afford 30 minutes amidst the rush of getting my kids ready for their days, I can almost always carve out 10 minutes.
Each morning, I head up to my bedroom, shutting the door tight.
My routine has three simple parts:
Presence: I start with a short period of meditation. Depending on how I’m feeling, I either set the timer for somewhere between five and ten minutes, or I listen to a short guided meditation. This mini-meditation helps drop me into my body and the present moment—a space I slip out of easily and often, especially during the morning rush.
Inspiration: After my meditation, I sit down for a daily spiritual reading—usually something by Melody Beattie. This only takes a minute or two, but it’s an important part of my routine because it brings some focus and wisdom in.
Intention: I close my morning routine with an intention. My intention usually starts with help. Help me be present today. Help me be gentle—with myself and others.
Some days, if I’m feeling particularly ragged, it’s simply Help.
That’s it. It’s not fancy, and it doesn’t get all the sludge out, or ensure that I fully process my life the way my morning pages did. I don’t light candles or ring bells—in fact, I’m usually crouched next to a heaping pile of dirty laundry.
But here’s what the routine does do: it reminds me that I’m a spiritual being, and not just a nagging robot, which I can easily forget as I ask my kids, “Please eat breakfast,” “Please get dressed,” and, “Please brush your teeth” over and over and over again.
Though I have less time, I need this new version of my morning routine more than ever. On the days when I skip it, I feel it. I’m less present, more in my head and often, more anxious.
Someday, maybe I’ll find the time to bring journaling back into my day.
But I’ve learned that even a small window of time set aside to become present and intentional makes a big difference. And that is kick-ass enough for now.
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Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Loren Kerns at Flickr