Stone Soup for Five: When You Can't Get Your Morning Routine to Work

When You Can't Get Your Morning Routine to Work

Most of us have heard how essential it is to have a disciplined morning routine to start the day off right.  I definitely agree with that, but it can be a HARD thing to do!

I have struggled at each stage of parenting to get the mornings done well and still do.

Not that long ago I hit another Morning Routine Rut and could NOT get things going.  I'd wake up later than I wanted, stumble into the kitchen for coffee, and waste a couple hours online.  I'd feel like the rest of my day was ruined, no matter how I tried to make up for it.

So I stopped trying to fix my morning routine.

Instead, I changed my focus to my evening routine.  And it made all the difference.

Instead of watching TV, being online, or reading (falling asleep on the couch with a book in my lap), I make it a priority at about a half hour to an hour before bed to work on my evening routine.  The cool thing is that when my evening stuff is done, it almost always guarantees a great morning routine!

Here's my usual evening routine:

10 Minute House Pickup--when the boys were babies, this was essential to get all their toys tossed into baskets and all the bottles loaded in the dishwasher.  Now that they are teens, I usually ask them to do their assigned rooms.  (Each boy has a room of the house that is "theirs" to keep clean in addition to their own rooms--My oldest has the kitchen, because he's the biggest mess offender in that area, my middle son has the dining room, and my youngest the living room.)  10 min is a great amount of time to get things put back in their places and wipe down messes.

Sweep--Most of the time, the boys do this as part of their pickup time.  There is nothing worse than walking into a kitchen with bare feet in the morning and having crumbs sticking to your feet.

Take Laundry Out of Washer--The boys all do their own laundry, which means they start a load in the washer then forget about it... which means they sour quickly and smell awful.  So each evening I double check the washer and make sure all clothes are at least drying in the dryer.

Make Lunch-- Mr. Measure takes a lunch each day and likes the ease of sandwiches, so every night I make him two sandwiches and store in the fridge.  I really hate making sandwiches, but I hate reaching into a bag of cold, wet lunch meat first thing in the morning even more. *urp*

Shine the Sink--This is 100% Flylady.  Sometimes I just make sure there are no food scraps hardening in the sink, but when I do it right and spray bleach cleaner and use windex on the faucet, it's pretty awesome to wake up to.

Change Dish Towels--I HATE that sour smell of old dish cloths!  Every evening I put a fresh one out and add the old one to the laundry.  I do the same for the hand towels too.

Lay Out Workout Clothes-- If I lay them out I can make sure everything I need is washed and ready to go.  If they're out, it's quick to dress in the morning and if I'm dressed in workout clothes it improves my odds of actually working out.  My goal has been sweating in the morning for a half hour 4 times a week.  Laying out the clothes pretty much ensures it happens.

Charge Electronics-- I check my iPod (with the couch to 5k app I'm currently sweating through with my youngest), my phone, and my kindle.  Charging as needed.

Lay Out Bible--I clean off my desk (where I read my Bible in the mornings with coffee) and lay out my Bible, journal, and pen.  I make sure the desk is uncluttered and inviting.

Shower, Floss, Vitamins--I moved our huge Costco sized multi-vitamins into the bathroom and have been consistent with taking one a night when I am brushing my teeth.  Same with my allergy meds, and this year has been the best for not having eye-swelling, throat-itching allergies!

Wipe out bathroom sink and change hand towel--I usually just use the bathroom hand towel and get a bit of it wet and wipe down around the soap dispenser.  There is so much soap dripped there that I use that to clean the sink, faucet, and countertop.   The old handtowel goes in the wash and a fresh one is laid out.  If the mirror is bad, I use a dry section of the same handtowel to wipe it down the the glass cleaner we keep in the bathroom.

Read-Aloud--We started our Reading Promise years ago, and though we aren't as regular as I'd like in the summers, it's been a good way to get everyone calmed down for the night, and a great way to just be together again before bed.

My morning is completely dependent on if I've done my evening routine.  If I haven't then I spend the day putting out fires instead of what I want to do.  If I focus, it really takes me no more than a half hour to do the activities and another 15-20 min for read aloud.

It requires discipline to stop what I'm doing and get to work on my evening routine, and Flylady recommends starting it right after dinner.  I seem to do better if I do it an hour before bed, so I can use that right after dinner time to enjoy my family or read before I'm too tired to.

What do you think? Do you have a evening routine?  Is there even just one thing you could start doing the night before to make a better morning?


  1. I love your take on this. It is easy to make an idol out of a morning routine. I've got 4 small kids, so I'm never guaranteed this time alone. I made a prayer binder with your tutorial last month and I love to start my morning reading a devotion from My Utmost For His Highest, then a few psalms as part of my Praise prayer time. Then, I get through what I can but at least I have spent time praising my Maker (and spending a few minutes begging for grace to get through the day).

    I read At Home With Madame Chic, and something she recommends is setting the table the night before. I also like to at least make sure my coffee maker is clean so I can load it in the morning and not have to make noise banging the filter in the trash can in the quiet, sacred morning hours.

    I love your blog!

    1. I've never heard of that book! Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. I'm doing the Makeover Your Mornings class by Crystal Paine and I had given up on the morning thing too but you're so right! The bedtime routine certainly makes the morning! I have been doing that for the past week and mornings have been noticeably easier.

    1. I love her thoughts on the mornings and I'm working through it too, but yes, I noticed that the evenings are crucial! Thanks!

  3. These are really good tips. I have no morning routine and you're right, you feel like a big #fail all day long. I especially liked the idea of one room for each kid and cleaning off the desk for your Bible. You're brilliant, thanks for keeping it real.

    1. Yes! With the boys helping, it isn't so overwhelming. We're still working on them doing it with a good attitude... :/

  4. Funny you mention Fly Lady. When my son was still at home, I lived by Fly Lady. It was the only way I made it through the weekdays working a full time job and being a Mom and wife.

  5. In our house it all has to be done the night before, morning as usually a mess, even when we wake up earlier. Having my kids help is something we have started and I think it's good for them and gives me less stress.

  6. Great minds think alike, Kari! I'm working through my morning and evening routines and have written blog posts for next week about them. I agree that a solid evening routine can make all the difference in how my mornings go. Much easier said than done (especially when I'm tired in the evenings) :)

  7. Now that you do your morning routine at night, you wanna come to my house in the morning and do my morning routine? ;) Just kidding! I love this idea, thanks so much for sharing, I've done a few of these in the past, but I need to get back on track.


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