I used to hate waking up early.
The alarm would go off and I’d roll over and hit snooze repeatedly until I eventually opened one eye to look at the time and then bolted out of bed in a frenzy because my endless snoozing was now going to make me late.
I’d rush to get ready and then run out the door in a mad dash to catch the subway to work, not having any time to collect myself or even drink a cup of coffee.
Sound familiar? It was the worst.
Once I had kids, the cries of a hungry infant on the baby monitor or the bouncing of a happy toddler on my bed would wake me from slumber and I’d go right into “mom mode”.
I was not a happy camper in the morning. Even as I settled into motherhood and resigned myself to waking on my child’s schedule, I was convinced I would never be a morning person.
However, as the years went by, I noticed that when I did happen to wake up before the rest of my household, and had a few minutes of calm before I had to jump into my day, I quite enjoyed the peaceful quiet of the morning.
I started to think that maybe there was something to this “morning routine” thing that so many people talked about.
So awhile back in my personal development journey, I decided to give it a try. I made it a point to give myself dedicated time each morning to do things that brought me peace and calm before taking on any of the day’s tasks or activities.
It started out simple.
I’d drink my coffee outside in my favorite porch swing when the weather was nice, or inside in my specially chosen spot on the living room couch. This would be followed by some type of movement, either a workout or walk outside. Then I’d listen to one of my favorite podcasts on motivation and personal growth.
After a while of doing this, I realized that morning was now my favorite time of the day! I actually LOVED my mornings and I looked forward to them. If you would’ve told me this would be the case ten years ago, I would have laughed in your face.
It may not have been intentional at first, but I’ve managed to establish a morning routine that makes me love waking up!
A few weeks ago, I was feeling like I needed more space within my days so that I could be more calm and present. I decided to wake up one hour earlier to give myself more of this morning time that I had come to cherish. This change has been extremely beneficial and has become key in how I practice self-care.
How a morning routine can be used for self-care
Mornings have become my sacred time. I will go as far as to say, this is my time for deep soul connection.
In the quiet hours of the morning, it is much easier to find solitude. This time set aside in solitude will help you center yourself and discover what may be lacking in your current life and what you need to nourish your soul.
Doing some self-reflection in order to determine what you need is the first step in practicing self-care and having this time in the morning is the perfect opportunity to do this.
Journaling is great for self-reflection and can be done by using a pre-printed journal that gives you prompts each day or the old-fashioned way of “writing in your diary” by using a blank notebook. I do like the prompts, as I sometimes need a little guidance to get started, and a beautiful cover is inspiring as well.
Try journaling in order to set your intentions for the day ahead, as well as for longer term goals. Also, journaling is a great way to express gratitude and remind yourself of all the blessings in your life. Studies have shown that regularly expressing gratitude contributes to your overall happiness and sense of well-being, among other positive benefits.
Meditation is another way to connect with your soul & practice self-care during your morning routine. I am not consistent with a meditation practice in the traditional sense, but early morning exercise provides a time for me to zone out. I find that it quiets my mind as I try to focus solely on my breathing and body movements. At this early hour of the morning, I find that exercise is indeed meditative for me.
You may choose to meditate the more traditional way by sitting still in a quiet space, focusing on your breath and bringing your mind back to your breath when it wanders. Of course there are also plenty of apps you can download for guided meditations, affirmations, or meditative music.
The point is to find what feels right for you and incorporate it into your morning routine.
So how do you create a morning routine that works for you?
1.) Listen to your intuition
The first step in creating your morning routine is to listen to your intuition as to what you need at this particular time in your life.
This will look different for everyone depending on your lifestyle and season of life and it may change over time as you transition through different phases.
You may find that you’re waking up feeling very anxious every day and feel like you need more peace in the morning. Therefore, you may find it helpful to journal about this anxiety and/or create a priority list of tasks for the day with “must do” and “can wait” items.
On the contrary, maybe you wake up feeling like you need more energy, so exercising to an upbeat playlist that will get you pumped for your day is what may work for you.
Know that what you need in your routine can change depending on what you are going through in your current life situation and also what your lifestyle is.
2.) Choose your sacred space
The next important step is to choose a space that feels right to you. You should choose a space where you feel comfortable and able to give yourself what you need.
For me, sunlight and fresh air are important. Therefore, I usually sit on my front porch when the weather allows or if not, I sit in my living room, in the same specially chosen spot on the sofa where the sunshine beams in through a large bay window.
You may prefer a dimly lit room where you can light some candles. Or you might even choose to start your morning routine by leaving your house, especially if you have to be home most of the day for work or other reasons and it’s important to you to get out of the house in the morning.
Wherever you choose, just make sure it is a space where you can connect with yourself. A space where you have the things that bring you joy and comfort, like cozy blankets, music, books, or fresh air.
3.) Wake up earlier than everyone else in your household
You should strive to wake up earlier than the rest of your household so that you are undisturbed during this sacred morning time.
This is time for you and you alone, without distraction from others who likely need or want something from you.
Figure out what you want from this time and how much time is necessary to allot for it. Then make sure you factor in additional time that will allow you to transition from your “me time” to your “mom time” or “work time”.
I’ll share a little secret with you that works for me. I cheat a little and break up my morning routine into parts.
During the week, I wake up an hour and a half earlier than my kids and I start my first “part” with exercise and then coffee in my favorite spot. This allows me some time to clear my head and let my body wake up before I need to make myself available to anyone else.
After I get the kids ready and off to school, then I continue with the second part of my morning routine, which includes a walk outside, journaling, and listening to a podcast or reading.
This works for me in this season of life because I am home during the day (and I know that waking up any earlier to do ALL of this before the kids get up is just not realistic for me). If you are someone who likes to rise at 5am, then your schedule may look different.
Basically, figure out what works for you in terms of timing and what is sustainable and go with that!
4.) Do not look at your screens
I cannot emphasize this step enough. When you pick up your phone to check your email or social media to start your day, you are getting pulled further away from yourself and the purpose of establishing a morning routine.
Information on social media, emails, and requests from other people distract you from what you need and turn your focus onto what everyone else needs.
The point of the morning routine is to give you what you need so that you are refreshed and prepared to take on the rest of your day with intention, calm, and clarity. When you start your day by looking at your screens, you are immediately distracted by what matters to everyone else in your space, not what matters to you.
You have the rest of the day to digitally connect with others, so don’t let screens distract you from connecting with yourself first thing.
So do you feel ready to establish a morning routine will make you love waking up?
Even if you were convinced you would never be a “morning person”?
Seriously though, I am on a mission to live life as the best version of myself. I know that waking up early and creating a morning routine that includes meaningful things like self-reflection, soul connection, exercise, and goal setting is the key to my own personal growth.
These things are so important, but unfortunately they probably don’t feel as urgent as your work emails or grocery shopping during the rest of your day and hey, life happens and things have a tendency to go off-course during the day.
So do the things that matter first thing.
If you save these things for “later” or for the end of the day when you are exhausted and can’t focus, then they’ll always be on the back burner.
Your personal development and self-care should not be an afterthought that you may or may not have time for depending on how your day goes.
And let me be real, full transparency here. What I am describing for my morning routine is my ideal morning. This is how I strive to start my day because I see the benefit in it, but there are some mornings when I just want to sleep a little longer and so I do.
I don’t beat myself up about this either because at the end of the day, it is all about giving yourself what you need. If you need to sleep in a couple of days a week, then do that and practice your morning routine the rest of the time.
Decide what works for you and establish your own ideal morning routine. I promise you will see transformation in your life and will start loving your mornings like I do!
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.