I am not a naturally punctual person, and for most of my life I have been driving the punctual people in my family crazy with my bad habits. But since arriving at work by 6:55 a.m. is not optional, I have to compensate. I need time to wake up, spend some time with the Lord, and contemplate the day ahead. I have found that sleeping until the last possible minute just doesn’t work for me. Sure, I could stay in bed until 5:30, or even 6:00 and make it to work fully clothed and half presentable, but the stress of that just isn’t worth it. Creating a routine that does work means getting up at 4:50 a.m. By getting up early, I can prepare my heart for the day ahead, and sometimes, I even have time to do things around the house to make the evening go better once I get home from work. When I get a chance to unload the dishwasher or put a meal in the crock pot for dinner, or maybe fold a load of laundry, it is such a good feeling to come home and know there is one less thing I have to do after work. Especially if it’s been a particularly tiring or stressful day.
Another thing that helps a lot is having everything prepared for the next day the night before. I pick out what I will wear to work, including shoes, and hang my clothes in the bathroom the night before. Most of the time I even hang a towel and washcloth on the shower curtain rod so that all I have to do is jump in. And I know this sounds crazy, but sometimes just having a good-smelling body wash or lotion to use encourages me to go ahead and step in the shower when I am still too sleepy to function. I also try to put everything I will need for the next day in my work bag the night before as well, although I do have to add my phone and iPad just before I run out the door, since I use them during my quiet time.
If you have children who have to get up to get where they’re going, it helps to start their wake up process early too. Kids can handle mornings so much better when they don’t wake up feeling rushed. Many older kids can set an alarm and get up on their own. This worked great with my son, but my daughter is a different story. For her to get up, it takes me calling her a couple of times. We have limited the number of times I will call to three. If she’s not up by then, she is on her on. And she does pretty good with the whole getting up thing now. When she was younger, that was a different story. Although some kids…and grown-ups for that matter…are just natural born sleepy-heads, adequate amounts of sleep can make a tremendous difference in the ease of getting up out of bed in the morning.
Kids often need more sleep than we realize. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that preschoolers through 5 years old get 10-13 hours of sleep. Children between the ages 6 and 13 need 9-11 hours. Teenagers 14-17 should get 8-10 hours of sleep. For us grown-ups, 7-9 hours is recommended. So many times we don’t get enough sleep. We think we don’t have enough hours in the day to sleep that much and still accomplish all that we have to do. But dealing with tired kids is no fun, and even as grown-ups, we can make our waking hours more productive and enjoyable by getting enough sleep. God created rest for a reason! We need it like we need the air we breathe.
A good breakfast is also key to a good day. I am one of those people who wakes up hungry, so I need something pretty filling to start the day. If you don’t like to eat in the mornings, consider a breakfast shake, or take something to work with you to eat later in the morning. Once of the best take-along breakfasts I have found are the Belvita breakfast bars. They come in lots of flavors, but my personal favorite is the cranberry orange. Diamond breakfast pouches with the nuts and granola also make a terrific light breakfast.
The most important thing about my morning routine is finding the strength to make it through the day with time spent in the Word of God. I love having time in the mornings to read and pray and just spend some time with my creator. It helps to have a reading plan, so that you don’t have to spend time randomly deciding where to read from that morning. There are all kinds of reading plans online. www.biblestudytools.com is a resource I have enjoyed. You can pick from a wide variety of reading plans, explore verses by topic, or get a verse of the day. There are lots of other free Bible study tools out there, so if this one is not for you, explore until you find one you enjoy. Lifeway has lots of Bible study materials at reasonable prices. No matter how you choose to do it, I encourage you to find a consistent reading plan that works for you. The Bible is our guidebook for living and offers advice and inspiration for any situation in our lives. The Word transforms us. It is an incredible gift that we should all take advantage of. God’s Word, along with prayer, is the way He speaks to us and draws us closer to Him, all the while giving us what we need to keep going and living our lives to the fullest. When I’m sleepy or my mind is wandering, using a journal is a good way for me to pray. I don’t always do this, but prayer is something I often struggle with because of tiredness or being distracted. I used to wonder how God felt about my writing my prayers, and then I realized that just as I am a better communicator in writing than speaking when talking with others, the same often applies to my conversations with God. He isn’t picky about how we talk with him, as long as we keep the lines of communication open!
Morning doesn’t have to be the most dreaded time of the day. Even for us who aren’t natural born early-risers, it can be a time of restoration, reflection and refueling for the day ahead! It takes a little planning, but the effort you put forth in advance will pay off with a calming start to the day.