Is it possible to have a morning routine when you have a baby? What could a morning routine look like? How do I find time for me?
In this post, I will attempt to answer these questions (and more) and share with you my current morning routine in the hope that you find it helpful in shaping your own routine that works for you.
What do I actually mean by routine?
I mean that I have a consistent way/order of doing things in the morning that set me and Theo up for the day in a way that works for us. It takes a lot of the thinking out of what I’m going to do (which is so useful if I’ve been up in the night with Theo and am tired). It also gives me a sense of normality and it’s hopefully reassuring for Theo so he knows what’s going on. However, it’s not fixed in stone and I adapt to Theo’s needs (and my own).
Is it possible to have a morning routine with a baby?
Yes! It is possible to have a morning routine when you have a baby. I also believe that you and your baby will both benefit from having a routine in place that works for you. All babies are different and so the routine you have may be different to that of other mums, but that’s ok! As with most things about being a parent, there are many ways to do things and you have to try different things to establish what works for you.
It took Theo and I a while to establish a routine that works for us, I think we had a good flow from when Theo was about three months old. It pays to be patient and try different things, I do remember thinking that I was never going to feel like we could have the normality that a routine brings, but it did happen! In the early weeks (months!) you and your baby are still learning about each other (and your baby is learning to be in the outside world- it’s tough to be a newborn when everything is new). You may be lucky and establish a routine early but if this doesn’t happen, it is completely normal and just give yourself some time.
Where did we start? The morning routine arguably starts at night!!
I knew that it would be easier to establish a good morning routine if Theo and I got a good night’s sleep. From when Theo was about 5 weeks old, we started to try and have a consistent bedtime routine and found that this really worked to settle Theo into a good sleeping pattern.
Our bedtime routine has evolved over time. When Theo was still feeding through the night, we started to introduce cluster feeding in the early evening (essentially topping Theo up so he’s full when he goes to bed by giving him a bottle every 2 hours in the lead up to his bedtime (from approximately 6pm to 10pm)). We’d also try to give him a dream feed before we went to sleep (at about 11:30 to midnight). This worked really well and Theo would only get up once in the night to feed (at about 4am). After doing this for about 5 weeks, Theo stopped feeding late at night and so we stopped the dream feed, he also started sleeping for longer stretches and soon was not feeding at all in the night. If Theo did wake up in the night, he would go back to sleep if I gave him his dummy or with a gentle stroke of his face.
Now, Theo’s Bedtime routine consists of bathtime, some singing with Daddy, a bottle and then into bed. Theo still wakes in the night but will often settle himself back to sleep or will go back to sleep if I give him his dummy.
A consistent bedtime routine, I believe, has meant that Theo mostly has a predictable sleep pattern and we all get more sleep during the night.
What could a morning routine look like?
I wanted a morning routine that was simple and helped Theo to understand that it was daytime. As such, I didn’t want too many elements in it and I wanted it to be active – so it was noticeably different to Theo’s bedtime routine.
Below is our current routine, as I’ve said, you need to find a routine that works for you and incorporates the things that are important to you. Have a look at our routine to see if any of it works for you. It may also give you some ideas of different things, not in my routine, that you’d like to try and have in your own routine.
7:30 am – Theo would normally wake up between 7 and 7:30 am. I like to get up when Theo get’s up. I don’t get up earlier because, frankly, I need the sleep. Even though Theo doesn’t feed during the night, he still wakes up (sometimes several times). He sleeps in a Chicco Next to Me dream crib (which I love!) so he’s right there next me and I can hear everything.
7:45 am – I like to make clear to Theo that it’s the morning and show him that it’s light outside. So we open the curtains and windows (as long as it’s not raining) and let in the natural light. I feel this really helped Theo establish his circadian rhythm early on and learn the difference between night and day. At this time I’ll also get Theo ready for the day, which means giving him a top and tail wash and getting him dressed.
8:00 am – It’s time for Theo to have his breakfast, which at the minute is an 8oz (240 ml) bottle of formula milk. We use Aptamil first milk, which Theo seems to like (he never has any trouble finishing a bottle!) and we’re really happy with. I like to take my time with Theo while he eats, I find it a really nice time to bond and he will often look at me or hold my hand while I feed him.
8:30 am – It’s time for some fun! I like to be active with Theo before his first nap as he has lots of energy in the morning. We often spend some time on his play mat so he can kick around, roll over and have some tummy time. If we don’t play on his play mat, we may sing, dance, play with his toys or read. I love this time with Theo, it’s so nice to see the joy in his face when we play together.
9:00 am – Nap time! Theo typically spends about an hour and half awake before he gets tired and it’s time for his nap. I like to get Theo ready by changing his nappy and putting him in his sleeping bag so he knows it’s time for sleep. We’re currently using the Love to Dream Transition Swaddle Sleeping bags. These are great as they keep Theo’s arms snug and in a natural position which helps with combatting his startle reflex. Now that Theo is rolling over I can zip the arms off and it becomes a normal sleeping bag. It’s also hip healthy and so has ample space for Theo’s legs relax in the frog position. Who knew there was so much to think about with a sleeping bag!
How do I find time for me?
While Theo is sleeping, it’s time for me! I like to prioritise doing things for me during this time. I was reminded very early on that Theo relies on me and so I owe it to him to look after myself. Here are a few of the things that I like to do during this time:
– Exercise. I like to try to look after myself and I want to have a long life with Theo so exercise is important to me. I may go on the cross trainer, do some yoga or a little circuit of star jumps, squats, running on the spot and sit ups.
– Shower. It’s obviously important to be clean. However, I found it so difficult at first to shower unless there was someone else in the house who would watch Theo. Even if he was sleeping I would worry that he’d wake up while I in the shower and I couldn’t get to him quickly. Now, I use the monitor and even if he does wake up, I know he is safe in his crib and I can get to him within a few minutes. This has actually been a game changer for me and really makes me feel great!
– Eat. Eating is so important! This sounds so obvious but I remember numerous days after Jamain had gone back to work where I didn’t actually eat anything until Jamain came home from work and we had dinner. This was not sustainable and I knew I needed to look after myself. I need to fuel my body to have enough energy to look after Theo. I really try to have a good breakfast to set me up for the day (my favourites at the minute are Weetabix with raspberries or porridge with blueberries- both really quick to make but very filling and keep me going for a while).
– Journal. Jamain bought me an amazing little book of inspirational quotes. Each morning I like to write one in my journal and think about the day I want to have and writing this down. I also use my journal to write down any thoughts I’m having about what I want to do, how I want to be or anything I’m thinking about for Theo. An example of this is when I wrote about the types of classes and experiences I wanted Theo to have- this helped me to get myself into action and start leaving the house on a regular basis.
– Read. I used to take reading for granted and now the chance to sit down with a good book is a real luxury that I savour every moment of. Reading for me is a way to give my mind a rest. Since having Theo, I feel like my mind never switches off as I feel I have so much to think about and learn. I even sleep very lightly, which I’m sure all parents can relate too. So having an escape for even 10 minutes while reading a book is so beneficial for me.
It really is only after I do these things for myself that I think about housework and other tasks. The housework is never finished and I don’t get that buzz from doing the washing or hoovering that I get from looking after myself! I also know that I can ask for help with the housework but only I can look after myself.
Looking at this list, it seems like quite a lot of stuff that I try to do while Theo is having his first nap, it can seem overwhelming to try and fit it all in. However, to overcome this, I think of my time in 10 minute blocks and just focus on trying to do one of the things from my list in that 10 minutes. Knowing that Theo could wake up at any time, I prioritise and so I do the most important thing to me on that day in the first 10 minutes. By using my time in this way, I feel great every time I complete an activity and it makes me feel like I have time for me. Whether I get 20 minutes or 2 hours while Theo is sleeping, I know that I have taken positive steps to look after myself.
I really hope it’s helpful to see my morning routine and the things I try to do for myself in the morning. I hope it will help you shape your own routine and to think about what things are important to you when looking after yourself. It’s important to remember that a routine that really works for you may take a while to establish and you may need to try a few different things until you find something that works for you and your baby.
I also talk about my morning routine in two of our YouTube videos, see the links below: