4 Simple Steps To A Successful Day, Every Day (Crafting Your Morning Routine)
Summer sucked the structure out.
The first part of the school year was always a struggle, it seemed. A mad-rush to get out the door, driving faster to avoid missing the bus (or having to walk your tardy kid into the front office of the school), making your other kids late to their school.
Maybe you used to have your shit together, maybe you're just trying to get organized, or maybe you've got everything in order and you're simply looking for new ideas to spice up your morning routine.
If any of that sounds like you, you're in the right place.
In this post I'll go over my 4 steps to a successful day, every day.
1. Make Your Bed
Sounds simple, but this one little action starts your day off with success.
You begin with a win, right out of the gate.
Granted, most of the school year my husband is still in bed when I get up so the structured "make your bed as soon as you get out of it" preach doesn't always suit, but that darned bed needs to be made before you sit down for work, take your kids to school, etc.
Why is it so important?
It's creating a good, duplicatable habit. One where, no matter what goes awry during that day, you had one success that day—you had your shit together enough to make your bed.
On the first official day of the 2017/18 school year, my husband had a call from 8-9AM with some clients in the U.K. so it was my responsibility to get all 3 kids out the door.
Needless to say it was a pretty hectic morning… One of the kids wet the bed that night (darned juicing), then another who can't tolerate sugar decided to have a sugary breakfast (removed that from the house now), and things were just a mess.
I shot out of bed after sleeping through my alarm, ran into the kitchen to make sure the kids were eating and readying for school, fixed myself my favorite gluten-free protein shake then headed back to the master bathroom to get ready for the day.
I saw the disheveled bed and thought, eh, it'll be fine. I really need to hurry up…
I got ready, did the girls' hair and sent them off to get into the van in the garage. I was just about to leave our bedroom when the weight of the unmade bed leadened my feet.
I'd gotten into a habit years ago to always, always make the bed.
If I do nothing else for the rest of the day, at least the bed was made.
Give yourself an easy "win" every day and make your darn bed.
2. Do At Least ONE Thing For You
You'd think we wouldn't have to cover this one, but especially for busy parents, we tend to overlook ourselves and constantly focus on other people.
I can go back through photographs of myself through the years and see exactly when I started genuinely smiling in pictures.
Sure, a lot of it was because I met the love of my life and had children I never knew I wanted until I had them, but the photographic proof of the happiness shift is undeniable.
Okay, so what kind of "one things" are we talking about here?
It's up to you. Decide what "simple win" will bring you the most joy and/or sense of accomplishment in the morning.
For me, my first "one thing for me" was making the bed. Later it was getting dressed and ready, every day no matter what was happening or where I was going. At another point it was doing some Pilates in the morning (till I blew a hernia in my gut, but that's a whole different story).
Now my One Thing is applying some light makeup and, well, getting dressed—I call it "Getting Ready", every day.
Maybe your One Thing is Getting Ready, too. Maybe it's:
- Taking your dog for a walk
- Playing or reading with your kids before heading off to work
- Writing or journaling
- Drawing or sketching
- Reading a chapter or short story
Can you think of anything else?
Whatever your thing is, you should incorporate into your morning routine to ensure at least one personal success every day—outside of just your bed, that is.
3. Minimize Your Morning Responsibilities
This is a toughy, I know.
When you have kids, you're generally at the mercy of their actions in the mornings.
I'm not here to give parenting advice although I'm sure I'll wind up giving tips on what works for me sometime or another. But there are a few things you can do to make mornings easier on everyone (but mainly yourself), like:
Let your kids (depending on their ages) get themselves ready in the morning. Put the cereal on a lower shelf, suggest they dress before eating breakfast, etc.
Give overviews, not step-by-steps. Creating successful habits for others start with step-by-step instruction, but it'll become a tiresome ordeal to constantly chime in for each step of the morning.
EXAMPLE: "Eat breakfast, kids." You go do something then come back and say: "Now go brush your teeth." Go do something then come back: "Now get your socks and shoes on." Annoying, yes?
Instead, write down or type up a list of what your family needs to do for themselves every morning and put it on the fridge or post it on the back of the pantry door (or even on their bedroom closet door—wherever's most convenient).
Start out with step-by-step instructions, if need be (especially for younger kids who can't read). Or, you can create a simple song for the mornings.
We used the cartoon "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" morning routine song and just added to it.
"Eat breakfast, brush teeth, put on shoes and off to school."
Most of the time we just stick to that simple little melody—they don't want to go to school in jammies so they know they need to dress before leaving the house, etc.—but as a second prompt after they've eaten breakfast (generally) goes:
"Socks, shoes, hair and teeth, ladies," and they're good-to-go.
Some more ideas to add for your convenience:
- Fix breakfast the night before
- Fix lunches 2-3 days in advance (or the night before)
- Set out your clothes (your kids' clothes, etc.) the night before—or have them do it
- Conveniently store your "one thing tools"—my makeup is easy to grab on small shelves on the wall next to my sink in the bathroom
How else can you ease up the weight of responsibility on yourself each morning?
4. Review Your [Daily] To-Do List
Much like the last point, setting yourself up for the next day the night before is a great positive habit to get into.
Before closing my laptop for the day, I take a look at my existing task list for the following day.
Whatever didn't get completed "today" moves to tomorrow, and whatever else day-specific task needs to be added gets added.
Generally in the mornings my mind is running through what I need to do for the day, so taking a moment to sit down and write it out is quite helpful.
Call this step what you will:
- Brain Dump
- Morning Review
- Morning Pages (a long-hand stream-of-consciousness record created by Julia Cameron)
Whatever you want to call clearing your head early on in the day, it's an essential part to your morning routine—crafting successful days, every day.
When will you start?
Tomorrow looks promising, yes?
Most of these steps are a basis for creating simple habits each day. The keyword here is SIMPLE. The simpler your routine is in the early morning fog, the more likely you are to succeed at it, and create stronger, more productive days.
So, every day:
- Make your bed
- Do at least 1 thing for you
- Minimize your morning responsibilities (this will take time and effort from the whole family)
- Review your to-do list (or day ahead or whatever reference works best for you)
Hi! I'm Sara—mom of three, wife, and non-fiction and fiction writer currently scrawling on Medium and about digital business growth on GoffCreative.com. Learn more about me right here and be sure to subscribe to get direct, hand-crafted ruminations delicately bundled for you each week.