Being a parent is, wow. The most humbling, challenging, and worthwhile thing anyone could do. But you're exhausted and barely hanging on -- most of the time -- right?
My wife and I became foster parents of three siblings (ages 4, 6 and 8) almost a year ago. Going from zero to three was a severe punch in the gut. But the biggest challenge wasn't adjusting to kids; it was losing control of our routines.
As a morning person, I thrive after I've done my morning ritual. If my morning ritual doesn't get done, I struggle. As Stephen R. Covey has said, "Private victory always precedes public victory."
However, to help my wife in our new family situation, I decided to forgo my morning routine to help the kids before school. The problem is, without winning my "private victory," I'm just not that great of a person. Don't get me wrong, I can be present and happy. But I'm just not in the zone. And that's the point of morning routines in the first place: To get you in the zone so you can be on the razor's edge of your A-Game.
Unfortunately, most people's mornings are reactive and chaotic. And our kids are learning these horrible habits by proxy through us. As a result, most kids go to school exhausted from a poor night routine and in a frenzy from a horrible morning routine.
This article does not go in depth about how to create excellent morning and evening routines as a family. That is for another time.
This article is directed toward the parent who wants to be in the best possible frame of mind and spirit when their kids wake up in the morning.
Putting yourself in a position to win requires sacrifice. In order to get myself in the right headspace for the day and for my family, I wake up at 4:15 a.m. and do my morning routine before the family wakes up at 6 a.m. Please note: your morning routine can be 15 minutes if that's all the time you have. The point is to mentally and spiritually prepare yourself for victory.
Here are the four things that have changed the father my kids interact with when they wake up in the mornings. I wish I could say it only impacts me. But I'd be lying. In a short period of time, our entire family dynamic has changed.
Here they are:
1. Prayer and Meditation
It's essential to get out of bed as soon as you wake up. Continuing to lay around only makes you groggier. If you have a spouse and can leave the house, jump in your workout clothes and head right to the gym. When you get in your car, or while you're driving, have your conversation with God. If prayer isn't your thing, take a few minutes to meditate.
The goal is to connect with your higher power and put yourself in a positive zone. Also during this conversation is the time to express gratitude for your existence, the people in your world, and for the opportunity to live another day. Lastly, during this time, seek clarification on what needs to be accomplished that day. If it's only going to be one or two things, what are those one or two things?
2. Listen/Read To Uplifting/Instructional Content
After my prayer, I pop in my headphones and continue my drive while listening to audio books, instructional talks, scriptures in audio form and other podcast type stuff.
Immediately while listening to quality content, your mind changes from the grogginess of sleep-mode. Your blood starts pumping as you get insights on how to live, work and be better.
I listen to 60-90 minutes of instructional content while driving back and forth to the gym, and throughout my workout. There's a fundamental difference between people who really show up to life and those just plugging along. Those with purpose are intensely serious about education while those without purpose numb themselves with entertainment in their spare moments.
3. Write In Your Journal
By the time I get to the gym parking lot, I've hydrated, prayed, and spent 10-15 minutes listening to incredible content.
Once I get to the gym, I spend the next 10-20 minutes parked outside with the inside car light turned-on. I open up my journal and begin writing. It's not enough to get insights during meditation, prayer, and while listening to quality content. You have to write it down. If you don't write it down, it gets muddled. If you don't write it down, you're far less likely to get further insight and far less likely to take action.
Consequently, writing has a few key purposes for me:
- Clarity: What are my big picture goals? What is my daily to-do?
- Gratitude: Opening myself up for abundance and realization of the amazing blessings I've been given.
- Inspiration: While I've been sleeping, praying, reflecting, and listening to audios, my subconscious mind has been forming ideas and creating solutions. Most of my writing and business ideas become structured while brain dumping in my journal.
- Relationships: What are my relationships like with the important people in my world? How can I better nourish these relationships?
- Anything else that comes to mind.
Daily journal writing is the number one contributor to everything I've achieved in life because it clarifies and hones my thoughts and attitudes.
Try this one thing and it will change your life.
It's usually between 5-5:10 a.m. when I enter the gym. It feels absolutely amazing getting a good workout first thing in the morning. Combo that with everything else I've been doing the past hour and I feel like a million bucks.
I usually workout intensively for about 30 minutes and spend 10 minutes in the sauna before heading home. During my drive home, I continue being mentally fed instructional content.
When I get home between 6-6:15 a.m., I park in my driveway and say another short prayer before going inside. "Help me to be present with these people I'm blessed to call my family. Bless with me discernment for their thoughts and feelings. Bless me to love them as they deserve to be loved."
Then I go in loaded with energy and excitement to be with my beautiful family. And the best part, they're excited to see me because they feel a wave of positively and love when I walk through that door.
If your mornings are terrible for you, they are terrible for your kids as well. Take control of your life. Get to bed a little earlier than you're used to. Get your kids to bed earlier (they need more sleep than they're getting as well!).
Wake up before your kids do and win your private victory so you can win your public victory as well. Your family deserves your best.
Please take control of your mornings now. The cost is too great not to.
Watch as see as your entire world changes. Watch as see as your family changes.