While cruising Facebook, I came across this lovely little article, with “10 Things You Should Do Evert Day Before 10 AM” to help you start your day right (http://www.powerofpositivity.com/10-things-you-should-do-every-day-before-10-am/?c=sb).
Now to start with, I will tell you that I am against “should”s. I have a belief that it is impolite to “should” on anyone. We can’t presume to know what’s best for anyone other than our self. Having stated that little pet peeve, the tips were pretty good, but I noticed that good’ol human negativity bias kicked in right away and I came up with all the excuses, that I called reasons, that these strategies are not possible for me to follow.
Thanks to my work with mindfulness, however, I was able to bring myself back to the reality in front of me without judgment. I actually do practice these strategies but in a modified way, my way, to be more precise! Maybe some of my quirky ways, will inspire you to recognize your own modifications to make your mornings more enjoyable to start your days in the best vibe possible.
The article begins with a lovely quote, and I would love to think of these things the first few moments my eyes open in the morning.
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive; to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
My reality however, is that the alarm, AKA: One of my daughters, either the 4 year old or the newborn, will wake me up demanding my brain turn on and meet one of their needs. Usually, I am not conscious enough to reflect in such a tuned in way to do this first thing when I “arise”, however, I do find a moment, usually during breakfast time at the table, to breathe, enjoy and love the life I have with my family. The key is to find a time in the morning, where you can make this work.
Would love to have time set aside before 10 AM to do this, but alas, not my thing to have set time for myself in the morning. But then I remembered, that my form of meditation is the constant practice of mindfulness. This is my version of reflection, but it is while my body is in motion.
My current meditation practice happens during the first nursing time with my newborn. We sit in her nursery where it’s quiet, where there are no distractions. We breathe together, I reflect on how amazing she is and how lucky I am to have her. I feel gratitude for my life, my family, the various blessings in my world, and the greater universe. Keep in mind, this may only last 5-10 minutes because of the needs of my other child, but it is meditative and a great grounding, connecting ritual.
Reflect in Gratitude
As a mom of young ones, I try to condense activities together when possible, so I build in my gratitude with my mindfulness reflection during that time nursing my daughter. I also try to keep a nighttime gratitude journal. This helps me feel settled through the night, even the really tough ones, and feel primed for more positivity by the time the morning comes.
Set Your Daily Intention
Well, the fires need putting out right from eyes open, so again I have the time while nursing, or during breakfast where I start thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the day. I keep my goals very simplistic because of where my life is at, so I might decide to make sure I have a shower, go for a walk or make a certain phone call that day.
Setting simple goals does make me feel like I’ve accomplished something at the end, but also makes sure that I prioritize something for me that reminds me I’m still a human in my own being, plus a mom and a wife.
While I don’t schedule free time, I try to keep daily activities at a level that feels manageable. My version I guess is limited scheduling rather than padding a schedule. There’s so much focus on basic living requirements with little ones that I want to attend to, that there isn’t a whole lot of room for additional pieces that are equal in priority, so they simply don’t make the schedule.
This one I absolutely agree with and I’m not very good at it. Hydration is key to emotion regulation, body functioning, (yes, nursing too!) and virtually every activity we do. Getting as much hydration in the morning is a great way to set up for the day. I have a reminder tone on my phone that prompts me to drink my water, so if I forget, I have a little help remembering.
This one was interesting. I thought about how I get out of bed. Roll out of bed, reach for sweater or robe, drop it, bend and reach for it with the other hand, stand up, slip my arms into each side, stretching to get my hands through, rotate shoulders to shrug into it. Ta-da! Morning stretch routine, when done consciously and deliberately. It’s my stretching version of the “wax on, wax off” Karate Kid training, but it is the mindful practice of the movements that makes the difference. Ahhhhhh, nice and limber.
Listen to Music
Generally, I like the quiet of the morning when it exists, but generally, there is so much noise in the morning in our house, that music actually adds more stress. I do find it beneficial in the car on the way to school. This shifts focus from traffic or the morning rush, to something me and the kids can enjoy together to set our tone for the day. It’s even better when it’s music we can both sing along to so we can stretch the vocal chords and diaphragm, and we get it in before 10 AM.
Smiling at myself in the mirror isn’t a guarantee, unless I can get to the bathroom for more than just the basics, however, laughing with the kids and seeing them smile, makes me smile. Whether it’s telling silly jokes at breakfast, noting something new that one of them does or says, smiling together reduces any of the hurried stress and helps us slow down and appreciate the moment.
… And everyone else! This is not something that gets done before 10 AM, but it might get done during afternoon nap time. Sure putting things away in the moment is preferable, but hey, I’m not superwoman with superhuman speed. If the house doesn’t look like a tornado hit for at least a couple hours in the afternoon, it gives me a sense of calm and sanity that is indescribable. A definite necessity for a mood lifter, just not happening before 10 AM.
Do Your Hardest Task First
I like the idea of this, but again the practice is modified, depending on the task, and how the kids are in the morning. One way that I do this is with appointments and phone calls. I will often make phone calls earlier in the morning, even though it usually means leaving messages, because I have the time to make the calls after taking my eldest to school. This also takes the pressure off of me to make the calls and puts it in the court of the other to respond, which usually only takes a few seconds to firm up times, etc.
My version of this I guess, is to do my most time efficient activities when the opportunity arises, not necessarily before 10 AM, but when the time allows. I can’t put things off because I might not have the block of time I need again for a while. Kind of like writing this piece, actually. I happened to get the time, so here we are… Now it’s time to go on to the next thing.
All the best in finding the ways that work for you to set up your morning (and day time) rituals and routines!