Following these tips on how to have a good morning might even improve your entire day!
Although I am not by nature a morning person, I still manage to get the bulk of my day’s work done long before noon. That’s important to me because it means I still have a couple of blissful, quiet hours to myself before school lets out. Without those, well, let’s just say I might be writing this from a sterile environment under the supervision of medical personnel, rather than from the comfort of my kitchen.
For many years, I couldn’t claim to be productive in the morning. I was barely civil, and I’m sure people who called before 10 AM would agree.
Most of my now 24-year-old daughter’s childhood mornings involved a frantic race to get us both dressed, fed, and to school on time. There was plenty of rushing, occasional arguments, and near-constant stress — not a good way for either of us to start the day. I’d get home from the school run so frazzled and annoyed that I’d convince myself I needed to watch TV or go back to bed just to calm down.
It was a miserable way to live.
Sometime after my 16-year-old son was born things changed. I just couldn’t stand thinking of another 10 or so years filled with such stressful mornings. So, while I knew I’d never be one of those “up before the dawn” kind of moms, I was determined to find ways to make my mornings smoother. I didn’t want to make my mornings longer by, say, getting up an hour earlier — I just wanted to know how to have a good morning. Here’s what I learned and follow to this day.
How To Have A Good Morning
1. Plan ahead.
Fatigue and disorganization are two leading causes of stressful mornings. Fatigue negatively impacts all areas of your life, not just how much energy you have. It affects your decision-making, your coordination and stamina, and it can cause a host of health issues.
If you’re one of the 30% of people who regularly neglects to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep for adults STOP IT. You will never have a good morning if you sabotage it by getting too little sleep. Figure out what time you need to be awake then go to bed 8 hours before that, no excuses. Once you get your mornings on track, you’ll find you’ve got time to watch that show or read that book long before bedtime and still get ample sleep. For now, just do it.
As for defeating morning disorganization, make sure what you need to get out of the door is ready to go. Plan your outfit — including shoes and accessories — and set it somewhere other than the closet so you can get dressed without second-guessing your choices. Make sure your keys, purse, and wallet are ready to go. Put the travel mug next to the coffee maker. Pack and refrigerate your lunch. And don’t forget to charge your phone!
2. Ease into the day.
If you’re getting adequate sleep, and you’ve got everything ready to go in the morning, there’s no reason to launch yourself out of bed with a shrieking alarm. If you rely on a piercing, loud alarm clock you should know that how you wake up may be killing you by triggering your body’s “fight or flight” stress response. Setting your phone to play your favorite song is one way to ease into your day. But if you’re like me, you’ll just hear the song in your dreams and keep on sleeping.
Waking to an alarm clock is a relatively new phenomenon in the grand scheme of humankind’s history. Our ancestors woke when their bladders told them to or relied on the sound of birds or livestock to wake them. It wasn’t until the 1850s that programmable alarm clocks became part of our daily lives, making them a relatively new-fangled way to wake up.
It turns out, our early ancestors were onto something. After a period of sleeping in the dark, exposure to light stops our bodies’ production of melatonin, prompts a rise in our internal temperature, and signals our bodies to start producing certain hormones that help us wake up. Compared to the shrill blare of an alarm clock, this is a gentle process.
It’s also one that you can easily replicate with light-based alarms. Several years ago I bought an alarm clock that simulates sunrise and sunset. It’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. In the morning, the light comes on very, very slowly until your room is as bright as day. It’s so effective that I’ve only heard the backup birdsong alarm twice. (There’s a radio option for those who prefer music.) And I can tell you from experience: it’s a far more pleasant way to wake up!
3. Do something that makes you feel pampered.
I’m not saying you should jump out of bed and get a pedicure, but I guarantee you will find waking up more pleasant if you do something nice for yourself shortly after your feet hit the floor. For some that might be exercising, while others may feel pampered by taking a tub bath instead of a shower or reading a book while they sip tea.
Starting your day with something that makes you feel pampered ensures you get “me time” in your day. It also gives you time for your brain to catch up with your body by slowly transitioning from sleep to the alertness needed to make smart choices throughout the day. Front-loading an indulgent experience in the morning shores up your willpower, making it less stressful on you when Johnny drags his feet getting ready for school or your boss asks why you haven’t turned in the report that you’d emailed him four days ago.
I feel pampered when I don’t have to get out of bed in any particular rush. I’m a firm believer in waking up before your kids, not to them, so I set my alarm 15 minutes earlier than necessary. Then I stay in bed. I’m awake — it’s difficult to fall back asleep once my sunrise alarm clock goes off — but I have time to stretch, pet my cats, think about how delicious the sheets feel, etc. By the time I roll out of bed, it seems like something I’m doing by choice, and not because I have to. That makes a HUGE difference in my outlook for the day!
4. Fuel yourself.
We’ve been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but those of us who routinely skip it know that’s not necessarily true. Research has now confirmed that breakfast isn’t essential.
If you’re a fan of eating in the morning, make-ahead breakfasts can help you have a good morning by speeding things up. Knowing you can have a healthy meal ready in just two minutes means you don’t have to go without, or pick up fast-food if you happen to wake up hungry.
Whether you’re a breakfast eater or not, drinking 16 oz. of water is essential to fueling your body. After all, you’ve gone without hydration for 7-9 hours straight. Your body is dehydrated when you wake up, and dehydration will make you feel tired, weak, and grumpy. Chugging some water after waking up, with or without lemon, will help fuel your body even if you don’t eat.
5. Put the kids on auto-pilot.
If you’re struggling to find a morning routine that gets you out of the door on time, chances are it’s because you didn’t learn one in childhood. Don’t pass that on to your kids! Establishing a morning routine for kids, and expecting them to follow it, will help you have a good morning while also teaching them independence and, eventually, the skills to have good mornings when they’re adults, too.
I found with my kids that the key to getting them to follow any routine (waking up, homework, chores, etc.) was involving them in its creation. When I started getting my mornings on track, I realized things could go even more smoothly if my son had a routine of his own. So we sat down together and came up with a list of stuff he needed to do every morning before we left for school.
Some of the things (my suggestions) were obvious: get dressed; make his bed; brush his teeth; eat breakfast; and, pick up his backpack so we could leave. Other items (his suggestions) weren’t essential but proved to be important to him: petting the cats and making sure they had enough water; having a cup of hot cocoa at the table while I drank my coffee; and listening to music on our drive.
We figured out how much time he needed to do each thing (a total of 45 minutes) and wrote them on two different poster boards — one for his bathroom, one for the kitchen. After that, mornings got much calmer around my house. If he dawdled, I’d remind him there wouldn’t be much time left to pet the cats. After a few mornings of missing out on something important to him, he began watching the clock and getting through his routine on his own.
Now that he’s a teenager, we routinely sit together in the living room in the morning, each with a cat on our lap. He drinks his cocoa while I drink my coffee and we talk about what we both have planned for the day. After all of these years, that time together has become an essential part of my routine, too, and one of my favorite ways to ensure I have a good morning.
What are your best tips on how to have a good morning? What’s an essential part of your morning routine? Share in the comments, or join the Facebook discussion.