How to Start And End The Day Right
There’s no magic trick, but there’s something better: intention.
I always said I was an afternoon person. Catch me between 2 and 5 and I was there. Ready to give it my all.
Late nights? Yawn. Not so much. I’d rather read a book and turn the light out.
Early mornings? I’d rather snooze…
But it appears children and real life had other plans for me.
So how have I made my mornings simpler and smoother?
Partly by following a routine that creates calm and partly by making my evenings more focused and deliberate.
I set my alarm for the same time every morning, allow myself one snooze worth of cuddles with the warm, sleepy hubby and then take myself off to the sofa in our study, facing the window and the morning light, to do 10 minutes of Headspace. It’s not a lot. Many people will do much more. But those 10 quiet minutes let me fully awaken slowly, focusing on me and my breathing, with no other distractions. It’s the moment of shift from standby to fully switched on.
Then I set myself a one sentence intention for the day. Sometimes it can feel profound “play big”, sometimes it can be instructional “stay calm”, sometimes it can just be there to remind me to smile. But this one focused moment allows me to set my tone for the day, rather than letting myself be carried away by what others might have planned.
And I write it down.
It is the top of every day’s journal page and reflecting back through them over time is like a flip-book of memories.
Then the cup of tea (I am British), the shower, the getting dressed & the elephant herd of children running down the stairs to surprise us and start the day’s chaos.
On the days when, for whatever reasons, I don’t enable myself to have this time, when I don’t set my intention for the day — that elephant herd truly feels like a stampede and I am powerless to do anything other than be dragged along with it. And the day’s course follows that tone.
And so to allow for the morning’s simplicity, I realised I needed to put some evening routine into place too — to allow for the calm, the space, the time that is needed…
The evening wind-down
I always thought my parents were mad for setting the breakfast table each night, but with three small kids, and a schedule to hit, I’ve realised that having breakfast ready to go “the moment” they sit down saves a whole pile of time, plus my ears.
Bowls out, spoons down, cereal box at the ready — less choices and questions for them, and an immediate couple of minutes for me to pop some bread into the toaster for me.
Same goes for choosing and prepping my clothes. I’m as far from a fashionista as you can get. My wardrobe consists of blacks, greys, navys and whites — with plenty of items in these multiple colours — making my mixing and matching easy. Not quite as dedicated to minimising decision making as Mark Zuckerberg maybe, but a nod in the direction of his thinking. And if I’ve pre-selected my outfit, I can get dressed in auto-pilot mode in the morning, rather than having to um and ah about whether this works with that. Decision made. Time saved.
And to clear my head? To aim to go to bed in as good a frame of mind as possible? That (new) old faithful — the gratitude habit.
I am grateful
Last thing before bed every night, I write.
I write in my journal and comment on how my intention went for the day. And with all that is coming at me for the following day, I start to think about what my intention might be in the morning.
And finally, I commit to paper, in a 5 year diary, 3 small things I’m grateful for from the day. Sometimes big, sometimes small — often something that the kids have done or said — this provides a day by day, year on year, reminder of all that is good in my world.
And from gratitude, comes joy.
And joy is truly what my intention is.