One year ago, you probably didn’t give much thought to your morning routine. Every day you’d get up at the same time, get ready for work, make coffee, eat breakfast, maybe help get your kids ready for school or drive them there before your daily commute to the office. Every day looked pretty much the same, and it just felt normal if not hectic a lot of the time.
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic abruptly changed all of that. Shutdowns and quarantines had many of us working from home, while our kids attended school remotely. One year later, a lot of people are still working remotely, and children are still learning at home, and morning routines are a thing of the past.
Maybe you have gotten used to only dressing professionally from the waist up for Zoom calls, or you gave up your daily workout once gyms closed and haven’t gotten back into the habit. Healthy breakfasts have been replaced with sugary cereals or door delivery of fast food. The past year’s changes that upended our daily lives may have caused you to abandon any kind of routine whatsoever. And you’re not alone.
As we all slowly begin to emerge, every so cautiously, from the past year, and as more and more businesses and schools begin to reopen, it may be time to rethink that morning routine. Perhaps your pre-Covid routine wasn’t working for you, but your lack of routine now definitely is not working.
Now is the time to create a new routine that will help you start your day off right as you begin to put the challenges and hardships of the past year behind you. Normalcy is what we are all craving right now, and getting back into a daily routine can help you rediscover that feeling—just with some improvements.
Prepare the night before.
Sleep schedules have definitely changed during Covid. Maybe you’re sleeping less or more, or sleeping later than usual since you’re not having to commute to an office or school. But as that changes, it’s important to get back to a regular sleep schedule for both you and your children. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is crucial to getting restful, good-quality sleep. Yes, even on weekends. Make sure you are going to bed early enough so you get at least seven full hours of sleep; children need more depending on their ages.
If you have kids who are going back to school in person, doing some preparation the night before can save your sanity in the mornings. Pack lunches, layout clothing, or have your kids choose their clothing for the following day, and pack backpacks (making sure they have all books, notebooks, and other supplies they’ll need) so you’re not frantically searching for that permission slip in the morning.
Wake up before your family.
Setting your alarm even just 15 minutes before your children and partner wake up can give you some much-needed alone time before beginning your day. Create a new morning ritual and use this time to relax with a cup of coffee or breakfast, to work out, read, or meditate—whatever it is that relaxes and rejuvenates you. Use the last free minutes before the rest of your family gets up to review the day’s schedule so you know what lies ahead of you, where you need to be, and when.
Resist checking your phone.
Reaching for your phone first thing in the morning can create stress and overstimulation. Use a regular clock as your alarm clock instead of your cell phone so you’re not tempted to check your messages upon waking. Once you start scrolling through your phone, then you’re pretty much plugged in for the rest of the day, and this can derail your morning in an instant if you see something that upsets you or stresses you out.
Work in a workout.
People who work out in the morning tend to stick with regular exercise more consistently. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood, doing an online workout routine, or going to the gym before work, starting your day with exercise will give you more energy, help you to make healthier decisions, and give you a feeling of accomplishment that will set the tone for the rest of your day.
Don’t skip breakfast.
Don’t leave the house on an empty stomach. Even if you don’t normally eat first thing in the morning, having a smoothie that is packed with healthy fruits or vegetables or a bowl of instant oatmeal can help you stay focused and be more productive the rest of the day. Breakfast is especially important for children and teens, so prepare the night before so they can have a healthy breakfast before school.
Make your bed.
Aside from being tempted to crawl back into an unmade bed for five more minutes of sleep, making your bed every morning is a very simple way to feel good. Making your bed (and teaching your kids to make their own beds) keeps your home less cluttered and more tidy; it encourages good sleep habits, and you will have completed your first task of the day. This small task will give you a sense of pride and a feeling of accomplishment, which will encourage you to tackle more tasks throughout the day.