For months now, my to do list has had either the word ‘blog’ or, as I realised that that was not going to happen, the word ‘write’ scrawled on it. I’ve put it on daily to-do lists, on weekly habit trackers, on priority lists for months or weeks or seasons. It has been something I want to do, but, well, just have not.
How does a habit become a not-habit? Something occurs that breaks the physical aspect of the habit and then, before I know it, I just don’t do something any more.
In the case of writing, it was sleeping badly in the night that broke the habit. Waking up early to write was hard work. That phase of sleeplessness wore off months ago though and yet, no writing.
The summer routine was definitely different to the winter routine, and somehow, although I can’t quite work out why, writing first thing didn’t fit quite as well.
Then came a slight obsession with not reaching for a screen first thing in the morning, which made writing on a laptop impossible. I have no doubt that not working on a screen first thing, when my day is spent doing that almost exclusively is a good thing. But, despite that, I kept ‘ blog’ or ‘write’ on the to do list and felt a bit rubbish about myself for never getting it done.
As we move towards November, I am steeling myself for winter proper and the reduced daylight. And sitting here and writing first thing in the morning feels like a comforting thing to do in the winter, so well worth getting back in the habit I think.
Since September 2014 my morning routine has been shaped by school timetables and the need to support the offspring to be somewhere at a certain time. Over the past few years, the mornings have been marked by a family walk at a specific time as we shared some of the morning dog walk/run route with the teens walking to their bus. It has been the perfect shape for my morning; plenty of time for coffee, writing blogs, preparing for work, then a specific time to get outside for exercise.
I am good at planning, I am very aware of what is working well for me and what I would like to achieve in my mornings. Nevertheless, it feels a bit difficult this morning. That’s it, no more school in the family. Work will start in September, but that is 11 weeks away and I cannot even begin to guess what that routine will look like, so I am focussing on this chapter.
So far it feels a bit the same as usual I have to say. Except there is no teenager to drag out of bed – those with a knowledge of teens will know their sleep is heavy and it can take a while to rouse them and check they did get out of bed. So that is an extra 5 minutes of morning gained so far.
I am determined to keep to the usual time of blog writing, but the moment it’s over, I have to face the lack of routine, so I am extending it by fetching another coffee, following an email link down a rabbit hole. I have discovered the husband tidying up the “Tupperware” cupboard – that is obviously what has filled the lunch-making void for him.
I am suspecting a joint reluctance to make ourselves go out for a run. The family walk made us leave the house, now we need to make ourselves. And we need to relish this new chapter with all its opportunities and its space to be filled with new ventures.
I am struggling with making myself write in the mornings. Yesterday was a good lesson in why I should though. There is always a list of things I should be doing in the mornings; various parts of my volunteering roles are very much email or computer based, so this precious 15 minutes could definitely be used for the greater good.
This morning is no different. I need to write a report, it should have been done a few days ago, so I need to crack on. Yesterday I got the laptop out deciding I would check my diary for the week and then do my account reconciliations – also overdue. I wrote this blog instead.
The result surprised me. It gave me a bit more energy than crossing things off the list would have done. I had forgotten that this exercise of putting thoughts onto paper first thing seems to straighten out my thinking for the morning and enables me to just get on with things a little bit faster.
I still didn’t get the report written, but I did get lots of other bits and bobs done yesterday, which I suspect I would not have had I not taken this bit of time to do something fun first. To get my own thoughts sorted and out there before I start writing for everyone else and doing the chores that enable everyone to flourish together.
This is my version of putting on my oxygen mask before helping others. I still need to plan what I am going to write though, eventually this is going to descend into sheer babbling if I don’t. Some may say it already has!
I am trying to write this whilst also having a conversation with two members of my family and dealing with a dog who is insisting on being cuddled over the top of the laptop. The teen has just read the first line and has just jokingly accused me of prioritising screen time over him. I have suggested he head towards the shower as he is supposed to be. All fairly normal family chaos.
We have, as the children have got older, settled into a lovely morning routine. We all wake up and prepare for the day in our own way. Not all of us want large amounts of social interaction over breakfast.
But we eventually gather for a walk, which each of us does our best to prioritise. And it is that walk that is the key. We know that whatever else we do in the morning, we will get to hang out with each other at some point very soon.
This has always been true, the walk to school was always the time for us to chat and sort out problems and listen to the news from school, or the latest obsession in the minds of a small child.
It still took me decades to work out that this is our happy time though. My one slight regret is that I did not realise years earlier that we all really enjoy the bustle of the mornings. We all like the noise of a house getting ready for the day. We’re not always cheerful, but somehow it’s at least understandable, and therefore acceptable, to be grumpy or stressed in the morning, so those moods don’t affect others quite so much. It took me years and years though to let go of a vision of bright sunny mornings filled with cheerful humans.
I am pleased we have all reached the point of enjoying mornings though. It makes life much easier. Not much quieter or calmer, but I can’t have everything.
This is my relaxation. I know, for some, writing is not restful. It is for me and this is a great way to start my day. By the time I leave for work, I feel like I have done something productive, got my thoughts in order, practised one of the skills I will use for the rest of the day and have had some fun in the meantime.
I could be spending more time with the family at this point, but those who know me and my family will know that our circadian rhythms are not actually in rhythm. I am the morning person around here, so I wake up thinking and talking. Everyone else stands up and starts the morning routine, but are not particularly interactive. In fact, they seem to have quite an adverse reaction to me blethering on at them in the mornings.
So here is my space to talk, get the brain working, whilst everyone else eats and dresses. After a while, we all meet up in a more similar place and able to talk.
That’s the theory anyway. I have a ton of other little jobs that I could be doing in this time though. This morning, I have resolutely put them aside in favour of this. Mainly because I have noticed that getting up to write a blog is fun, so I wake up a bit earlier. Last week I decided to use the time to do some other things instead, and found my body refusing to wake up to do chores. Hardly surprising. I have the same reluctance to wake up and do some exercise straight away, although that is equally useful.
As you may be able to tell, it is still silly season around here and my thinking is hardly high level as I am very tired. So, this is an exercise in what my mother calls ‘chuntering’. Thanks for not telling me to shut up.
It’s that odd time of year of clock changes in UK. It always amazes me what an effect it has on me. How can just one hour of time difference discombobulate me for several days? It was quite hard to keep time last night as it felt so much earlier than it actually was, so I did rely very heavily on looking at the time closely. I just did not feel tired at my usual bedtime, so found myself reading and chatting to a friend on WhatsApp instead of sleeping, so of course I feel a bit more tired. The mornings are suddenly so dark – I do feel like I have woken up in the middle of the night.
This week is all about adjusting. Relishing the light evenings is easy. We spent Sunday evening in the pub waxing lyrical about the sunshine, light evenings, the general feeling of wellbeing that a beautiful spring day brings. This evening may include a quick walk after dinner – something that only ever happens in the light evenings.
The mornings are being faced by a grim determination to reset the body clock – making sure I get up with the alarm and get moving and that we get out to see the sunrise. Although rainy skies this morning may put an end to that.
Hopefully it will all feel normal by the weekend, but has anyone else got any tips? Does everyone struggle like this?
I love mornings, I am a lark, not an owl. That said, I need sleep, if I have not had my sleep I cannot wake up – those are the mornings I do not like.
The morning routine is something I think about a lot. And it is a routine which changes over the years.
Pre-children it was a short shower, breakfast, leave for work routine. With a lot of talking to anyone alive in the house. They did not always respond, I did not always notice this.
Offspring the elder is a similar lark, so morning feeds were sometimes in the World Service broadcasting hours rather than Radio 4 (which means before 5.20am). The mornings were long, cuddly, busy.
Offspring the younger is a night owl, he woke late. So, I had a year or so of a child-free half an hour or so at about 6am. I drank tea and baked bread and listened to the radio in a blissful time.
Now they are teens, they need to up and out early, but they do not need my assistance. How times change.
Now my early mornings can be a good chunk of time in which to do what I want. I have discovered something exciting this winter. Getting up and doing something quiet and sedentary feels as legitimate as getting up at the crack of dawn to exercise, which seems to be the usual recommendation. So, to soothe me through the dark cold mornings of the quiet season, I am indulging in mornings of coffee, reflection, writing, reading and prayer. Not all of those every day, but always the coffee. Here’s to mornings.