The Creative Life: Morning Routines
Other people's routines and the processes behind their creative (and non-creative) work fascinates me. It always has. Including how people start the day.
I didn't use to think I was a morning person, but that's because I didn't really know what it meant to be a morning person. As a kid and teen, I thought morning people woke up happy, jumped out of bed fully dressed, and threw open the window to join the birds and other woodland creatures in their song. This could have been a side-effect of the Disney Channel. I'm not sure. ;)
As I got older and spent more and more mornings with different people at school, then at work, my thoughts on what it meant to be a morning person shifted to mean anyone up in the morning and won't bite your head off for no reason. Growing up, no one in my nuclear family was actively angry in the morning, so the fact that these people exist shocked me.
But that definition isn't right either. And it probably doesn't matter.
In fact, I've since stopped worrying about morning people and moved on to think more about morning routines. I suppose for me, being a person who recognizes the value of starting the day off right and who attempts to do so - even (or especially) when it's hard - is more important than whether I feel like doing it every morning.
"Starting the day off right" means different things to different people. What works for an adult with no children will differ from what works for the parent of a newborn or the parent of three school-age kids or the parent of adult children. And so on.
Looking for the perfect morning routine won't work. Not that that stops us from trying to find it. I think I've Googled "best morning routine" dozens of times every year, hoping for that one perfect routine that will change my life.
I'll save you some time - it doesn't exist.
What exists is a better-than-nothing morning routine that fits your life as it exists right now. Over the years, my morning routine has transformed as my life has changed. When my girls were tiny, I was lucky to scrape together a few minutes to collect my thoughts and create a to-do list for the day. As they grew, I spent my mornings running and meditating or practicing yoga or doing some other physical activity.
After I broke my ankle, my mornings became the perfect time to write.
There have been lots of changes to my morning routine over the years. But what hasn't changed is having a morning routine. My morning routine has saved me over and over, helping me get up and get going on mornings when I'd rather stay buried in bed. It's something I look forward to when I fall asleep, and something that brings me clarity in times of darkness.
My morning routine is nothing special. But it works for me.
Since I love reading about other people's routines, I thought I'd return the favor and share my current routine here with you:
4:45 AM - 5:00 AM - Wake up, wash face, etc.
5:00 AM - 5:20 AM - Transformative meditation
5:20 AM - 5:30 AM - Push-ups, plank, & squats
5:30 AM - 6:00 AM - Journal with a cup of tea
6:00 AM - 8:30 AM: Make kids' breakfasts and lunches See kids off to school Have veggies-for-breakfast with hubby Get dressed, make calls to family, etc.
8:30 AM - Start work for the day
The times shown above are only my "goal" times - I'm not perfect at hitting them.
Some days I get up later, some days earlier (though I try not to get up earlier unless I have to!). When my kids have late-start twice a week, I sometimes work or create a little before making their breakfasts since they don't leave for school until almost 9:00 AM.
I can't think of a better way to start and end my day than with meditation.
Meditating almost first thing in the morning has made a dramatic difference in the rest of my day. On the days I miss it, I've noticed an appreciable drop in my productivity and mood. I also do twenty minutes of loving-kindness meditation at night before I go to sleep.
For a while, I was starting my day with hot yoga... and I loved it! But the logistics were a nightmare, and it created chaos in the house. Maybe when the kids are out of the house and I have more time in the morning, I'll resume. In the meantime, starting this month, I'll be swapping out my journaling time with yoga at home three days per week.
I'll let you know how it goes.