I had this completely crazy moment this morning. It was 8 am. I was sitting drinking (still hot) coffee, doing my best dramatic presentation of Green Eggs and Ham for my 3 year old. The house was picked up. There were no dishes in my sink. The counters gleamed as the morning sun swept across the kitchen. The dryer hummed cheerfully in the background.
Had I just been transported into some other life with daily maid service? Unfortunately, no.
I had just completed my morning routine. It is a simple morning routine that has completely transformed the vibe of my household, and most significantly, my stress level as a work at home mom.
And it all started with making the bed.
First though, for you to fully appreciate the transformation, you should know that for the previous three years, things around my home were not looking so good. Not only were dishes and laundry constantly piled and breakfast crumbs were still scattered across the table by lunchtime, but things inside my head weren’t looking good either.
I was constantly berating myself, “You’re a smart, hard-working person, how can you be so horrible at homemaking? Why can’t you even manage to get the simplest things done?” I stressed all the time that I couldn’t manage both a home and a work at home job. There didn’t ever seem to be enough time or energy in a day, and that didn’t make for a very happy mommy.
Maybe it’s just that I’ve hit my 10,000 hours, and now I suddenly rock at this homemaking thing. Then again, probably not. My new morning routine has been working so fantastically, that I just couldn’t wait to share it with you, in case this is something you’ve been struggling with too.
Making a Morning Routine
My inspiration for creating a morning routine comes from some combination of the writings of some of my favorite bloggers and authors, but I finally decided to jump on this morning routine bandwagon while reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Money Saving Mom’s Crystal Paine. (affiliate links)
Update: I’m super excited that Crystal is now leading me through making my morning routine even more effective. If you’d like to join us, click here to learn more about her 14-day Make Over Your Mornings course.
Here’s what I’ve learned. Those basic homemaking tasks really are simple, but they’re never going to get done unless I have a plan.
Luckily, making a morning routine is simple, too. Pick about 5 tasks you want to do every single morning. It could be anything from working out, to praying, or scrubbing your kitchen sink.
You’ll see below, I keep mine very simple. I simply picked the things that, if they were the only things that got done that day, it would still be a good day.
I find it’s crucial to keep the list right where I can see it, especially at the beginning. Mine is on the side of my refrigerator. Otherwise I’d be stumbling through my routine every morning trying to remember what to do next.
After a couple of weeks, the routine builds into a habit, whether it’s remembering to floss or eating more veggies. We can build routines into our day, so that they just happen without thinking, and we can use our precious energy and discipline for more important things like getting work done from home and spending time with family.
My Simple Stay at Home Mom Morning Routine
Here’s what my morning routine looks like right now:
1. Wake up 6:20 am. Make the bed. For years, 30 to be exact, making the bed seemed like a total waste of time to me. You’re just going to un-make it at the end of the day, right? Despite my mom’s best efforts at teaching me this habit, I never appreciated the power it held.
Here’s what I finally discovered. Making the bed sets the tone for a productive day. It looks so nice and tidy, so it builds momentum to move onto the next task and keep putting things in order. (Making the bed is also a good thing to do when your bed resides in the middle of your living room!)
2. Breakfast and Wipe Counters. My husband usually makes breakfast before he runs out the door which helps a ton! That way I only have to focus on feeding the kids and after-breakfast clean up.
3. Unload & Load Dishwasher. Being debt free rocks, but I never want to go back to life without a dishwasher! After 21 months without one, I almost enjoy the task of unloading and loading the dishwasher everyday. This routine has been great for my kids too. My 3 year old’s first chore is putting away the silverware while I unload the rest of the dishes.
4. Wash pan. We eat eggs for breakfast everyday, so the cast iron pan needs to be washed.
5. Get dressed and brush teeth. I know this seems extremely basic. However, if you have little ones, you know what a feat it can be to get this done.
When you work from home, there’s nothing stopping you from staying in your pajamas all day. However, I’m finding that getting dressed early (or at all!) makes us ready to make the most of everyday.
6. Switch the Laundry. I make sure to keep the laundry train a-movin’ in the morning, so it’s ready to fold after I’m done working in the afternoon.
7. Make Coffee. Of course, I’m definitely not the first to write about morning routines or the power of making the bed, but I haven’t seen anyone else who talks about morning routines put ‘make coffee’ on their to-do list. However, this step is very, very important!
It isn’t just the caffeine addiction that helps build the habit but also a reward to look forward to and a way to fit a tiny bit of self-care into an otherwise very busy day. Our brains literally get addicted to this kind of positive feedback.
I love how this habit has already started building on itself. Now the calm post-chores coffee time has become coffee time with God as I spend time reading my Bible or reading it to my kids. That is something I always thought I didn’t have time for before making my morning routine!
Please know that I am sharing this, and I hope you will be reading this, with the utmost grace in the whatever season you’re in right now. A year ago as Chronic Fatigue settled over me, I could do little more than get out of bed in the morning. It was exhausting just to sit up and read my children a book. I’ve had some better times and some worse, but I always have to very carefully manage my energy. If you’re having personal struggles of any kind, please be extra kind to yourself as you make your morning routine! (Update: I was ultimately diagnosed with POTS Syndrome, a serious chronic illness that affects many women of childbearing age.)
The Power of Habit
After just a couple of weeks, there came a morning where I realized I had finished my whole morning routine without having to check my list once. I actually didn’t even remember washing the cast iron, but there it was, clean and dried waiting on my stove for the next morning’s eggs!
Moreover, I didn’t dread or drag through any of the chores on my list. I just did them! My mind was free to wander, coming up with new project ideas and planning for the day ahead.
With all of my basic chores out of the way first thing in the morning, I am free to spend time with my kids and then get down to work without the guilt of a mess piled up behind me.
Plus, just like with saving money, taking that first baby step gets the ball rolling for completing bigger and bigger goals. By accomplishing a few small tasks, I’m motivated to get more work done at home.
Free Printable Daily Organizer
I created a free printable to help you create and stick with your own daily routine. It helps so much to see everything at a glance. I printed mine out and framed it. Then I can fill in the details and check everything off each day.
Do you have a morning routine? Are you hoping to start one? Share your ideas in the comments!