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Before I had kids, I didn’t think much about the mornings. Each day was different. I woke up when I needed to based on my calendar. But kids have brought more routine to my life – a rhythm to the day, week, and year. For the first five years of parenthood, we had a full-time nanny who arrived around 7:15 AM. The early mornings were never the same, but when she arrived, I would head into my office and begin my work day. That was my routine.

This fall, our mornings changed significantly once again with the start of full-time preschool, which starts daily at 8:30 AM. My husband generally takes the kids to school, but until then, it is a negotiation. A negotiation with family members and with myself.

It has taken a few months, but I have discovered my own personal “awesome morning” recipe. Here’s how it goes…

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bulletproof Coffee
  • A quick 15-minute Headspace meditation
  • Thoughtful work time
  • T25 workout
  • Smoothie
  • Quality time with the kids

In the wee hours of the morning when the house is dark and quiet, I sneak downstairs to make a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, which gives my brain and body fuel to perform at their best. Then I settle in for a quick Headspace guided meditation to clear my mind. After that, I move straight into some kind of thoughtful work, usually a task that requires generating ideas versus reviewing someone else’s work. Ideally, the night before, I’ve planned which one thoughtful thing I’m going to work on in the morning so that my brain can start to prepare while I’m sleeping. After 30 minutes to an hour of thoughtful work, I do my 25-minute workout in front of the TV. By then, it is 7 AM and the kids have emerged for breakfast. I enjoy an hour or so with them to talk, make breakfast and lunch, and get them ready for school. Amidst all this, I strain our homemade kefir and we make a family green smoothie.

That’s the recipe. By 8:00 – 8:30, my brain is calm, I’ve gotten my workout done, I’ve spent some quality time with the kids, eaten my vegetables, and accomplished something important from a work perspective. It is a great way for me to start the day.

This was not an easy recipe to create. There were so many priorities that I wanted to fit into the morning. It is a magical time with the kids when there’s space for it; they are happy little chatterboxes in the morning, literally jumping up and down with excitement when the sun comes up. If I don’t work out in the morning, I feel cooped up and guilty throughout the rest of the day. My brain is at its very best right after I wake up, so I love to do thoughtful work then. I prefer to clear my inboxes (email, slack, text) at the beginning of the day so that I can then focus on other priorities as the day progresses. And of course, there’s sleep (sometimes I just want to press snooze over and over again).

But to get mornings to work, I had to give up my morning email habit and find times for it later in the day. I have had to get up earlier, which requires going to bed earlier or being tired throughout the day. I also had to break my 5-year old’s habit of crawling into bed with mommy and daddy in the middle of the night because he would then end up waking up at the same time as me in the morning. Once he decided to stay in his own room, I had no more excuses for skipping my morning meditation, work out, and thoughtful work time.

Since starting this around Thanksgiving, I’ve stuck to it a majority of mornings, and it really does make a difference to how productive my day is. Now if I could just figure out the kids’ bedtime routine… boy, do they have a lot of priorities other than sleeping!