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I think one of the things that surprised me the most about motherhood was how little control I had over my schedule once babies came along. I was used to being able to plan out my entire existence. Although life got in the way from time to time, for the most part, my day went as planned. My morning routine of running to the gym (along with the rest of my routines) usually went off without a hitch.
Then my first baby came. He wanted to be held all day, but he hated all of the baby wearing carriers I had. So I held him. All day. I’d put him down to quickly make a sandwich for myself, cry while he did, and then drop mustard on his head while I attempted to hurriedly eat with him in my arms. Yes, it was clear early on that we were on my son’s schedule now.
Although things got better and better as my kids got older, as a work-at-home homeschooling mom, my day is still unpredictable. For this reason, my morning routine is even more important than it was in the days before kids. Wondering why to wake up early, how to wake up early and what to add to your morning routine? Keep reading.
Why you need a mom morning routine
To get some peace and quiet
Before you have kids, if you want quiet, you can just walk into a room and close the door. You don’t have to worry that quiet might mean that someone is coloring on the side of your couch.
I don’t know about you, but in my house, it’s almost never quiet between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Boys are bickering, talking to me about Transformers, or asking for help with a project. Because I wake up at least an hour before they do, though, I get some peace and quiet before the craziness starts.
To set the day with intention rather than reacting to things
The saying “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” is there for a reason. The manner in which we start the day often determines how the whole day goes. So much of being a mom is about reacting and responding to what other people need. Using the time before people need you to get your head in the right place and accomplish the things you’d really like to do will allow you to respond graciously when they do need you.
To find more time
We all complain that we are sooooooooo busy—that we have no time. The fact of the matter is that we don’t all use our time as efficiently as we could. However as moms, during the day, any time we do find is in major danger of being disrupted. Waking up early not only gives us more time to accomplish the things that are important to us, it also allows us to use this time to the fullest by working distraction-free.
To enjoy less stress and better mental health
Motherhood is stressful—there’s lots to worry about, tons to do, and a constant barrage of stimuli. Waking up early gives us time to practice stress-relieving behaviors like exercise, meditation, or stretching. It also allows us to work on other things that are just for us, which makes us happier.
How to enjoy waking up early and not feel tired while completing your mom morning routine
Get the right tools
If you’re not a person who naturally wakes up early, you’ll want some sort of alarm clock. If you have the room to yourself or your partner will be waking up, too, this is a gentle option. It gradually brightens the room to wake you up gently and will play nature sounds or the radio when it’s time to get out of bed.
If you need to wake up without disturbing a partner, one option is a fitness tracker with a vibrating alarm. You might also like this Bluetooth speaker headband, which will connect wirelessly to your phone or tablet and allow you to go to sleep with a bedtime meditation and wake up with your own personal alarm.
Coffee drinkers will benefit from a programmable coffee pot. Getting out of bed is a little easier knowing that a cup of coffee is already waiting for you. This study even suggests that smelling it helps to wake you up even before you’ve had a sip!
If you, like me, love sleeping in a cold house, but not getting out of bed when you’re in one, try a programmable thermostat like this one. Program it to raise the temperature just before you wake up so you can jump out of bed in comfort.
Prepare for your mom morning routine as part of your evening routine
I’ve written before about the importance of an evening routine. Set yourself up for success in the morning by thinking about it the night before. Whether it’s programming your coffeemaker, putting your workout clothes right next to your bed, or putting breakfast in the crockpot, do something the night before to make your morning better.
Go to bed earlier and with as much consistency as possible
I know it’s tempting to stay up late after the kids have gone to bed, enjoying some adult time with your husband and catching up on Netflix. The earlier you can get to sleep, though, the easier it will be to wake up in the morning. (Duh!)
Also, although kids will hijack them sometimes, try to be as consistent as possible with your sleeping and waking habits. When you practice going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, your body learns this cycle and begins to find its natural rhythm. I’m willing to bet that you’re pretty dedicated to keeping your kids on a set bedtime schedule. Show yourself the same love.
Make it a treat
Getting up early will be easier if you’ve got something you can really look forward to. Maybe mornings are your time to drink your gourmet coffee while reading a book for a few minutes. Maybe you sit and watch the sunrise while you write in your journal. Maybe you just do some quiet stretching in the dark. Give yourself something to really look forward to as part of your morning routine, and you’ll jump out of bed.
One of my daily habits is to drink 70 ounces (half my body weight in ounces) of water. I like to get a big bottle of it with some lemon right when I wake up. It sets me on the path toward achieving a goal, helps wake me up, and makes me feel great. Your body is dehydrated after the hours you’ve spent sleeping. Hydrate.
Start with affirmations or a mantra
I love starting the morning with a positive intention. Affirmations can feel kind of cheesy to our ‘thinking’ brain, but our lizard brain just hears us repeating these positive statements, and it believes them. Repeating something as simple as “today is a wonderful day” can make you smile and put you in the right frame of mind to love waking up early.
Taking a few minutes to stretch in the morning will help get your circulation going to increase your energy and help you wake you up faster. (Not to mention, it relieves tense muscles and helps you build flexibility.)
Know why you’re waking up early
I already suggested that you give yourself a treat or two to look forward to in the morning, but even more important is having a higher purpose for why you want to get up early in the first place.
Knowing that you’re waking up early to meditate so you can be calm and cheerful for the kids later in the day, to ride your bike to compete in that sprint triathlon in the fall, or to work on your side business to help support your family, makes it easier to push through the tiredness and get busy.
What to do as part of your mom morning routine
Alright, I’ve convinced you that you need a mom morning routine, and I’ve shown you how you can wake up early without being tired, but what should you do with this time?
Do something important, and put it first
It’s easy to get up and kind of putter. We check our email, go down a rabbit hole, and before we know it, little ones are coming downstairs or crying for us from the bedroom. As part of your nighttime routine, identify your number one priority for the morning, and do it first. My first priority currently is writing 500 words every morning when I wake up. I have a terrible time concentrating well enough to do it once the family is awake, so I do it as soon as I open my eyes.
Much like saying an affirmation in the morning, this sets our heads up in the right place. Finding that state of calm, focused attention is much easier when it’s quiet, and getting in the habit of ‘going there’ first thing in the morning will make it easier to center yourself in the middle of a hectic day.
In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron advises everyone to write Morning Pages, a sort of stream-of-consciousness, free-writing exercise. This sort of journaling is really useful in the morning for dumping out all that stuff that is clogging up your brain. You might uncover things that you’re worried about, novel solutions to problems, or a to-do list for your day as you scribble or type.
When I was training for my marathon, I frequently did ridiculously early runs, before my kids woke up and before my husband got ready for work. I figured that if there was some kind of emergency, my husband could wake up and handle it. Most mornings, I was out and back before anyone noticed, feeling alert and accomplished.
If I’ve finished writing my 500 words, and no one has woken up, I’ll often move on to learning something. It feels great to pick up a few new spanish words or learn some new tricks for blog SEO while the house is quiet. What have you been itching to learn?
Get some work done
Maybe you have a side hustle, need to sit down and pay your bills, or are trying to plan out your family’s calendar. The morning is a great time to do this focused work with a fresh brain and no distractions.
Mom morning routine advice for moms with very little kids
You are in the trenches of motherhood. I understand that your little monster is messing with your sleep. Only you know, if waking up early is, in fact, possible, or if it’s something to try again in three months. Some moms manage to accomplish astounding things with newborns. I didn’t have much of a mom morning routine with a new baby besides changing his diaper and sticking my boob in his mouth. You will get through this. You will sleep again. You will have some control over your schedule again. I promise.
As your kids get slightly older, here are some strategies to buy you time for your morning routine:
Try a ‘trainer clock’
This clock worked really well to keep my toddlers from coming out of their rooms once they’d woken. (We still use it now that they are 5 and 7 and can tell time). I set the clock to turn green at 7:00 a.m. The kids know that when the clock is green, they can come out of their room, otherwise, unless there’s a problem that needs my help, they need to rest in bed.
Put on a TV show or allow tablet time
I know. We’re all trying to get our kids to spend less time in front of screens, however, if putting on an educational show for the kids or allowing them to read an Epic book on the iPad gives you a few minutes to start your day off right, you should consider it.
Getting your personal priorities accomplished in the morning will mean that you have more energy and enthusiasm to give to your kids throughout the day. Put on your oxygen mask first.
Remember that even 10 minutes of a mom morning routine is something
One of the reasons I mentioned above that we should do the most important task first is that our time is no longer our own. Being a mom means knowing you might be interrupted at any second. You might only get through a few minutes of your morning routine before someone wanders out for help with a wet bed. Make those minutes count, and know that even 10 minutes, done consistently day after day, can yield awesome results. Go get ‘em, Mama!