My typical morning routine for years was basically to drag myself out of bed and figure out something to wear before looking at something on my phone while I got dressed and made up. As time has gone by it shifted to the same basic routine with the addition of getting small children up and moving for some type of care- daycare, preschool and now kindergarten. In other words, my mornings seemed to happen to me and I was on the defense trying to survive and be relatively on time. There was nothing calm or centering about my mornings. It was usually high stress and manic with lots of running around and more loud and rising voices than I’d like to admit.

Over the past year I really recognized just how much these rough starts were affecting me, and how guilty I would feel about the interaction I would have with my daughter as I rushed us out of the house and drove like maniacs to her school. I talked with friends about needing to try meditating, but I just didn’t have time. Wanting to have a more relaxing start to my day, and then stay up late and try and stay in bed until the last moment possible. Obviously this would then add to the mayhem that would ensue the moment I did get out of bed, because of course, I was already running behind.

I bought these fancy alarm clocks that get brighter and birds start chirping for the kids, only to get up and turn them off myself before climbing back into my own bed. Yup! I have totally done that and perpetuated my own demise. It was after having a particularly rough start that included my daughter trying to eat porridge in the car and it dumping all over the floor of the back seat that I hit my breaking point. By the time I got to work that day I was literally crying over spilt porridge and our collective bad morning habits that were making everyone miserable.

That day I began mindful breathing, and I practice this activity every day and work with my young children to practice this as well. It’s really just taking deep belly breathes a few times an hour or when you notice yourself feeling tense or shallow breathing. It’s a transformational reset, so if you haven’t tried it…DO!

It has taken me all summer to create a morning routine. I have no excuses. I didn’t think it would make that much of a difference for one, and I didn’t think I’d create the time to have a routine I could stick with and the last thing I wanted was something else that made me feel like I was failing or being a bad mom. We are our own worst critics, aren’t we?

I have to tell you, having a morning routine is amazing; well I should be more specific having a morning routine that involves self-care is amazing. I had some motivation from some of my soul sisters in the Origin group founded by Kate Northrup. I learned of a nifty little app called Insight Timer, which is free if you want to check it out, and filled with a seemingly endless supply of guided meditations. There are meditations for sleep, for affirmations, for kids, and various lengths of time to meet any need.

So here’s my morning routine that I’ve been able to stick with for 22 days and counting. When I first get up I scoop a tablespoon of clove oil spiked coconut oil into my mouth and do 20 minutes of oil pulling. It’s a good start because it grabs on to any bacteria that’s been hanging out over night, but I also can’t talk to anyone. I still can’t believe my husband hasn’t picked up on this trick and started doing this himself. I’ll then do a 10 minute meditation, while oil pulling. This feels super productive to me and since no one can talk to me, I don’t get interrupted. When I’ve finished the meditation I’ll have a good idea of how I’m feeling and then I dress for how I feel, which all by itself is really life changing.

What I’ve learned is that by owning my morning I’m less rushed and frazzled. Even if we are running late, which is usually, I’m not stressed out or freaking out. I’m still moving everyone along to get us on track, but there is less yelling, less heart racing, less bad moods and hurt feelings. Admittedly we are a family of night owls living in an early bird world, so mornings are always going to be a challenge. How I prepare and face that challenge has been turned on its head by taking 20 minutes each day to be silent, and mindful and present.