Whether it’s starting your day at 5am, or fitting in a workout before breakfast, we’re all well-versed in the best daily habits for getting your morning off to a great start. And while the advice might be well-intended, unfortunately it’s just not always realistic for busy parents. So, how can you reinvent your morning while taking care of small humans, too?
For many parents, the morning is the most stressful part of the day – whether that’s due to a rush to drop children off at childcare, negotiating breakfast with a toddler who just threw their toast on the floor, or trying to function on a few hours of broken sleep. Establishing routines as a family is actually really important; family routines have been linked to social skills and academic success. But, with busy lives, mornings can also help you carve out some important time for the day ahead.
The sticking point is that, all too often, the suggestions we read don’t seem feasible when caring for small children. After all, how are we supposed to do a workout or make a smoothie with a two-year-old glued to our hip? The good news is there are some simple changes you can make to reinvent your morning routine as a parent – here are some of our top tips.
1. Get up before your children
We know what you’re thinking: your children already have you rising early, but, when their sleep is in a routine, try setting your alarm clock just 10 minutes before you know they’ll stir, to help start the day with calm rather than chaos. Use that time however you’d like: to make a to-do list for the day ahead; to catch up on the news; to have a shower in peace; or to finally drink a cup of tea before it gets cold.
“If you can create some time for yourself to wake up before your children, then that’s great and can be really helpful,” says psychotherapist Sophie Harris. “However, there will likely be many times that this doesn’t happen for various factors. If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up.”
2. Get the kids involved
Many things on our morning to-do list don’t seem achievable when looking after children, leading us to start our day with a feeling of missing out. But can you get the kids involved? If you’re determined to start the day with exercise, there are workouts that can be done safely when wearing your baby or, for toddlers and preschoolers, head to YouTube – they’ll love the Hey Duggee Joe Wicks series, which means you can exercise alongside them while they burn off energy. This can apply for other things too; get the whole family out to walk the dog or, for slightly older children, involve them in simple chores and making breakfast.
3. Prep the night before
“If you have somewhere to be, organise your things the night before where possible,” Sophie suggests. “This can help reduce the overwhelming feeling that may come from busy mornings.”
Of course, when the house is finally quiet, the last thing you want to do is delve into chores, but it may be worth using evenings for prepping. Breakfast is an easy one; overnight oats take seconds and can be grabbed from the fridge first thing. Go through the nursery and school bags the night before as well, to avoid any last minute ‘Where’s my…?’ dramas the next day.
4. Be realistic
For new parents, adapting to change can be hard, but remember that what you achieved in the morning pre-baby probably isn’t realistic now you are a parent. After all, it was easy to make green smoothies from scratch when you weren’t responsible for a whole new human!
Set simple goals, let the small stuff go (if you need to bribe kids with screen time to have your coffee in peace then so be it!), and realise it won’t always be like this.
“Hold in mind that this is all just a chapter. Although times may feel hard, nothing lasts forever. Give yourself compassion,” adds Sophie Harris.
5. Subscribe to happy post
One of the few adult interactions we get first thing in the day is the postman. So why not set an intention to treat yourself to some happy post to make sure you always get your day off to the best start? Subscription boxes are a great way to do this. We love Tassie Club, a subscription box specifically focused on helping busy mums prioritise their wellbeing with a book, self-care goodies, and a group chat community with morning gratitude prompts and check-ins.
6. Make your bedroom your happy place
If you’re going to be woken up at the crack of dawn, you might as well make your bedroom the most relaxing place to be, to help boost your mood from the second you open your eyes.
“Make your bedroom somewhere that is nice to wake up to,” advises Sophie. “Consider treating yourself to comfortable bed sheets, or other small luxury items, like soft towels. These little treats can act as self-care to yourself in busy moments.”
Treat yourself to items that can make that bedroom-to-kitchen transition easier too, such as a gorgeous coffee mug for that first morning brew, or fancy cereal. Who knows, it may even get you through being woken up at 5am?
7. Weave in moments of gratitude
It can be hard to do when we’re bleary eyed, but gratitude does make a difference. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology actually found that those who wrote about gratitude for 10 weeks felt better about their lives.
The good news is this practice doesn’t have to involve lengthy journaling if you haven’t got the time – simply thinking of a few things you’re grateful for while enjoying a cuppa could help.
“Try to think of what you are grateful for upon waking. This can help to create a mindset shift to start the day,” adds Sophie. If you need some inspiration, we love LSW Mind Cards: New Mum Edition, which are specifically designed to help you look after yourself during the early stages of motherhood.
8. Don’t fall down the priority list
You’ve factored in feeding the baby, sorting clothes, and packing bags, but what about you? It’s natural to not focus on yourself in the morning when you have children to take care of, but Sophie reinforces the importance of this: “Try to place your own needs as equally important to your children’s – make time to eat a nutritious breakfast, or put on clothes to make you feel good.”
Not everyone is a morning person, and that’s OK! While we can’t promise you’ll jump out of bed full of energy and gratitude every morning, putting in place some of our simple tips may make a real difference to how you and your family begin your day.