How we start the day often sets the tone for the rest of it. I believe this wholeheartedly. Since I spend most of my days surrounded by three children under the age of nine, with all of their needs and noise and my own to-do list a mile long, starting my day in peaceful solitude feels pretty much essential in my life.
I've gradually trained myself to wake up at 5:30am most days—an hour and a half before my kids. It is hard to get used to at first, but it has made such a difference for me.
Right now I have a ritual of sorts, that varies very little from day to day, and I love it. In two months or so I'm going to have a newborn again, and I know that for a season this will likely not be possible, but I'm sticking with it enjoying it while I can.
I start by putting the kettle on, grinding coffee beans with our manual burr grinder, and squeezing a lemon wedge and little raw honey into a mug. I let our dog Lily outside, and do some stretches and basic yoga to wake up my physical self and get my blood flowing. The water boils, and I pour some into the lemon juice, and the rest over the coffee in the French press. Then I sit with my hot lemon water and I just breathe. It's my little meditation time—before my brain gets into all of the day's tasks, I aim to just breathe deeply and quiet all thoughts. It's the hardest thing for me—therefore probably the most important—and I'm gradually starting to get a little better at it. From that place of silence I begin to pray, and then I often start to write out my prayers and other thoughts in my journal. Then I read a daily devotional, something from the Bible, and often a bit of whatever book I'm currently reading.
By this time usually Manny has woken up, and brings me my cup of coffee. I usually pull out my laptop around this time too for some work—I check emails, do some editing if needed, draft a blog post, place print orders with my lab, and other tasks. I'll catch up with anything Monat-related too if needed. I often listen to an audiobook or podcast while I edit photos. (This hour of morning work time helps so much in keeping from getting behind on things. Many days I also manage about 1-3 more hours later in the day—during Eaden's afternoon nap, and in the evening in times when I have a heavier editing load.)
The boys make their way into the family room. I've been making it an intentional thing to stop working, set my laptop aside and hug and greet them with a smile and short conversation first thing in the morning. Then they go off to play for little while and I return to my work.
7:30am- sometimes 8.
Eaden starts to call for me from her crib, and that's mu cue that it's time to switch gears. I go and get her, give her the non-negotiable morning banana (which I believe functions for her the way coffee does for many of us), and make us some breakfast. On weekdays, we'll start schoolwork at about 9. I've been aiming to put at least a small load of laundry in each morning so it doesn't get overwhelming—I'm successful at this maybe about half the time, but it's still more consistent than it used to be!
So by April I'm assuming most of this will be different. I'll either try to make most of it happen with a baby attached to me, or (more likely) I'll let go of parts of it. And that is okay with me of course. I'll be well preoccupied with staring at my perfect little baby boy, after all. One thing motherhood has taught me is how short it all is, how the varying seasons come and go so quickly. And before I know it I'll have my quiet mornings again. (But I don't want to rush it.)
I felt like I should also give a disclaimer. I have by no means perfected this, and it doesn't happen like this every single day without fail. I never want to make anyone feel like I "do it all", because that is simply impossible. For me personally, waking early has helped. Getting my head and heart in a good place before the day begins has made a difference in my motherhood. But I also can hardly function after about 10pm—my brain just shuts down. Maybe for a night owl, your time is late at night. Maybe you have to be to work at a certain hour and this type of morning isn't possible in this season of your life. Whatever your reality it, I encourage you—do what you can to find a time for the sacred, for feeding your soul, as frequently as you're able. It makes a world of difference.