Recalibrate Your Morning Routine

I always use summer and Christmas break to “recalibrate” my morning routine. You see, things change from time to time, and habits fall behind. A period of sickness will make me give up everything but the necessities during the mornings before school, and we all know that the habits we are talking about here can be broke in a few short days.

They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, but let’s face it, I can lose the habit of exercise in just a couple of days. Then I have to put in the 30 days all over again! So summer and Christmas break is when I do this.

Another important aspect of recalibrating my morning is figuring out when I need to start. For instance, if I want to start school at 9:00, and my morning routine takes 3 hours, then I must get up by 6:00. Periods of time with no 9:00 finishing line help me figure out how long my morning routine takes without additional stress.

First, I consider my wish list – what I want to get done in the morning. For me this list includes:

  • Quiet time (Bible and tea)
  • Exercise
  • Meals (breakfast, some dinner prep)
  • Pick up (my room and bathroom)
  • Laundry (a load or two)
  • Possibly a project (changing the kombucha, writing a blog, etc.)

Then I work out the best order to do all of this. I know exercise has to come early in my list, because if I work on a project, time will likely get away from me, and I won’t get time to exercise. On that same note, most projects have to be done last in my routine. It’s also much easier to exercise before the kids wake up and start vying for my attention. ย After I exercise my feet move faster, so I find that’s a good time to do moving items on my list. For that same reason, sitting down to read my Bible or drink hot tea doesn’t work after exercise, so I plan to do it before. Also, my house is two-story, and I don’t want to go up and down stairs a lot, so I plan around that. In the end I find a pattern that works for me, and then I do it in that order every day.

“If you donโ€™t plan out your behaviors, then you rely on your willpower and motivation to inspire you to act. But if you do plan out when and where you are going to perform a new behavior, your goal has a time and a space to live in the real world. This shift in perspective allows your environment to act as a cue for your new behavior.” -James Clear,, author of the free guide Transform Your Habits

So, my routine becomes:

Upstairs –

  • Make my bed, put on shoes (I exercise in my pjs), and grab the dirty clothes pile

Downstairs –

  • Sort the clothes, start a load of laundry and fold what is in the dryer
  • Clean litter box (which is in the laundry room)
  • Make tea and read my Bible while enjoying a cup
  • Do 30 minutes of exercise (treadmill is in the laundry room)
  • Move now completed laundry to dryer, and fold what I removed (because Iโ€™m still in the laundry room)
  • Check calendar (so I can consider the best dinner plan and how I will dress)
  • Possibly start dinner or do some prep (at the least have a plan)
  • Make breakfast (wake up the kids)

Back upstairs – (take folded laundry with me)

  • Put laundry away
  • Shower and dress for the day
  • Wipe down my bathroom and head back downstairs

Back downstairs –

  • Work on a project if there is time

If I do this routine day after day and note how long it takes, then I know how early I need to get up in the morning to be done by a certain time. For a while, my morning routine wishlist meant that I would have to get up by 5:00! That was just too early for me, so I had to cut some things down. For instance, instead of exercising for an hour, I had to figure out how to exercise smarter for 30 minutes. Instead of participating in a Bible study that required 30-45 minutes to complete each morning, I just needed to read a chapter on my own. Instead of completing two loads of laundry, I needed to just get one done.

My list above works for me. I can complete it in two hours if I stay focused. By doing it in order, I don’t have to think about it. Which means it requires less will power.

Here’s the best part – as I begin my day, the part that begins after my morning routine, I have a bunch of accomplishments under my belt. I am already having a successful day! I have exercised! I have completed two loads laundry and they are put away! I have started my day with quiet time before the Lord! I’ve had a little “me” time before the kids have awakened. I am dressed and ready to go wherever I need to. I have a plan for dinner, if not an actual dinner started. I feel successfully and it’s only 9:00 am!

Think about using these last couple of weeks of summer to recalibrate your morning. (And think about me as I prepare to move to a house with no laundry room! My whole routine will have to change.)

Good Morning Sunshine!
Summer is a Good Time to Practice
A Mom’s Habit of Attention

15 thoughts on “Recalibrate Your Morning Routine

  1. Kjlb37

    Great post! For a minute there, I didn't think you were going to get out of the laundry room;) I have a similar routine, what always messes me up is my email, blogs, forums etc. I get sucked in and then my time is gone and I am behind or need to rush. I suppose the answer is not to get sucked in to begin with, yes? ๐Ÿ™‚ Really enjoyed this series, Nicole.

  2. Nicole Williams

    I would say to reconsider when it falls in your morning. I don't get on the computer until "project time". For me, that is sort of like my free time. However, I find that I am more stingy with that time, knowing that if I do too much looking around at my email and forums, time can get away from me and I won't get to spend any time on the projects that I want to do. It's the different between between being reactive and proactive. There is a time for both, but we need to make sure we have a reason to quit the reactive stuff at some point – even if that reason is that the timer you set, just went off. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Don't ever get the impression that I talk about this stuff because I'm so together! In reality, I could float through every day. That is my true personality. When I say, that I write this stuff as much for me as for the rest of you, I mean it. Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the series.

  3. Bridget

    I love, love, love this post! Never considered a morning routine wishlist. This is perfect as we're counting down to our first day of homeschool and I am needing structure in my mornings. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Kjlb37

    A question as I'm reading through this again, do you have breakfast with the children or just serve them and then go upstairs to finish your morning routine. AND, what are the children to be doing when you are back upstairs? Details, details:)

  5. Amber

    I've been working a lot on my morning routine this summer and I've made some definite progress… but I'm also feeling frustrated because there's so much I'd like to do before the baby and toddler wake up, and I can only get up so early! Right now I'm up at 5 for prayer and Bible reading, then I do set computer tasks (email, bills, notes on books, comment on blogs, sort pictures and post to the family site, Duolingo, etc) or Commonplace for about 45 min, then I exercise then start breakfast at 6:45. Generally the baby and toddler sleep until then, but sometimes they are up as early as 5:45, which really derails my morning! I am proud of myself though for making 6:15 my hard stop for getting off the computer – that was a tough struggle at first, but over time I've gotten better at it. It helps to view it as a deadline and to keep reminding myself about what my bigger goals are.

    Another great post, thank you!

  6. Nicole Williams

    Thank you for your question. I eat with the kids, and then we clean up the kitchen together. After that, as I'm getting dressed, the kids are doing their morning routines, which include, getting dressed, brushing teeth, brushing hair, make bed, pick up bedroom and bathroom, feed the pet they are responsible for, and bring their laundry to the laundry room. I try to instill in them to importance of doing their own morning routine in order, just as I do, so as to help prompt them what to do next. But I also keep a laminated list that they are supposed to check when they think they are done with everything.

  7. Nicole Williams

    My question for you is – are you going to bed at 8:30 or 9:00? Getting enough sleep at night is vital to your good mood, patience and health. With your little ones getting up so early, you really do have to get up quite early to have the time you need in the morning, but don't neglect the importance of a good night's sleep. I'm proud of you! This year will be awesome!

  8. Kjlb37

    Thank you, Nicole. As I work through our schedules for this year, I am getting so excited to see what we can accomplish, with God's grace. You have been so helpful in my planning.

  9. Miranda

    Love these thoughts – thank you for taking time to write them! Quick Question…I battle being totally showered and ready for my day because I go to the gym later in the day with my kids a few times a week. I love when I have showered and put makeup on and feel ready for my "job" every day before we begin though… Any ideas here?

  10. Nicole Williams

    Thank you for your kind words Miranda. I would still "get ready" for your day, whatever that means to you. It might mean you can answer your door if the UPS guy shows up, or it might mean you can run to the store or the doctor without embarrassment, if the need arises. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to have make up on or your hair fixed up. I might encourage you to spend some of your gym time playing outside with the kids – maybe climbing a tree (pull ups) and playing tag (sprints) and slipping under the fence (yoga?). ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just don't forget the importance of outside time each day.

  11. Jessica

    I’ve been working on this the last week and the first several days were so great! Like you said, by the time the day really starts I already feel like a winner. The only problem is now, despite how quiet I always am, my kids (5.5, 4, 18m) are all of a sudden waking up hours before they normally do! Can’t figure out how to keep them asleep so that waking up at 5:30 am actually gives me so,e quiet alone time to work through my morning routine…

    1. Melissa Hendrix

      I am completely in this very same situation. All of our bedrooms are close and they hear the floor crackle when I walk on it. Mainly my 6yo.

  12. Rachel Whiteley

    What do you do when your children wake up earlier than normal? My oldest usually wakes up at 6:30am but sometimes he is up at 5:30 or 6. I’m just curious what you would do? For a season in my life (when my third child was still a baby), I was able to get up before she did and before my husband left for work. I’d go for a walk around the block and talk to God, then come home, get dressed, and start on dishes and breakfast. It was wonderful and I miss it. I’m working on it, but figuring out how to handle my early riser is getting me hung up. He’s 10 and an avid reader. I’m thinking about showing him how to take time to read and pray in the morning, too. Maybe he can do that while I finish wherever I’m at in my routine and then he can help me make breakfast? Thoughts?

    1. Nicole

      Hello, Rachel. I have never had a consistent early riser, but when my kids have gotten up early, I quickly established the atmosphere of my morning time. Most of my day revolves around them, but my mornings are my time. I want it to be quiet, with little to no talking. My experience was that they quickly got on board, finding an acceptable way to fill their time. Charlotte Mason says the kids should have school time, occupation time, and lots of free time. I’m ok with some of their free time being in the morning, as long as it is a quiet activity. On other note, I always felt bad that my kids did not see the habits I had in the morning – reading my Bible, taking a walk, doing standard routines. You have the advantage of showing by example a beautiful way to start your day. I would allow your son the freedom of choosing how to begin his day, but again, I would insist on the atmosphere you enjoy during that time.


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