Are you a morning person? If you are, lucky you! I’m a night owl. At college, I would rather sleep from 2 in the morning until 10 and wake up mid-morning ready to start the day. I love staying awake late at night reading, painting, watching, planning.
It’s much better to be a morning person, especially when you have children and suddenly a lie-in becomes 7am instead of 10. I learned to adapt, especially since work life is set up for getting in and getting started. Life with pre-schoolers was great: wave off Daddy to work and crawl into the playroom for an hour while my head caught up with my body. Breakfast was a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast grabbed on the go and getting showered or dressed? Well, it might happen before lunch if I had somewhere to go. but there were days when even lunchtime could come and go as I sat in my pyjamas.Not very conducive to family hygge or happiness.
In my defence, I never took the children to school in pyjamas. Once school days started and it became obvious that mornings needed to change, I started working on a better way. And even though these are the techniques I started using when the children were small, they still work now. They wil work with or without children, whether you live with someone or alone.
- Wake up before the rest of the household and use 30 minutes just for what you want to do. Are you a yoga fan? A journaller? A walker? These 30 minutes are yours just to enjoy. On a weekday morning, my 30 minutes is usually spent in bed, sometimes with a cup of tea, listening to Radio 4 and scrolling over social media. I love my Instagram feed, because I keep it happy and clean. I don’t follow anyone controversial, political or liable to post anything other than pretty house shots and children. Come the weekend, I creep downstairs before the household, make a pot of tea and crochet. If I’m time starved, I set a timer but some mornings (Saturday, I’m looking at you!) I can luxuriate in a burst of solitude for however long it lasts that sets me up for the week.
- Get your morning routine down to a fine art. Showering, washing, dressing can all take as long or as short a time as you need them to. I love to shower in the morning, since I’m of the age when night times can be very sweaty without extra help and I need to feel clean as I go about my daily grind. I keep the bathroom clean and mostly tidy, and try to wipe over sink, toilet and bath after I use them. A little cleaning everyday is better than a weekend trudge and it is more relaxing to get ready in a bathroom that isn’t screaming “Clean ME!”
- Allow enough time for everything in the morning and then some. It takes me 35 minutes with no stops or interruptions to do everything I need to do. That’s the fastest I can be up, washed, dressed and out the door. That’s not relaxing, but by doubling the time to over the hour, I can go slower, find time for a 10 minute read or that second cup of coffee and still be out in time. Work out how much time you need,and then add extra.
- Have a proper breakfast. And at the weekends, have a proper family breakfast. My teenagers are all popping off at different times. They grab their food and run, but at the weekends it can be great to slow down and have either a family breakfast, with toast, cereal, fruit and yoghurt, or if it’s late enough, a family brunch with bacon, eggs and hash browns. We started family weekend breakfasts when they were small and it was a way of showing that the weekend was special. Dad was home, we weren’t rushing out, and we had time to slow down and relax. I don’t wake the sleeping bears that are teenage sons every week, but I will get them up sometimes and insist on all eating together, especially if we have something to do that weekend and want to be on our way early or if it’s a special event like a birthday. At the very least, the Husband and I eat scones or bakery products with a caffetiere of flavoured coffee. We sit back, chat and relax.
- Do what can be done the night before. Get the children in the habit of packing and checking their school bags the night before, setting out uniform or clothes and running through the next day in their head to be sure they have everything they’ll need My daughter is a natural at this: she will have everything laid out and ready to roll. The sons, less so. I like to have my bag sorted and my clothes ready, if only in my head.
- Don’t panic if it all goes pear-shaped. Keep a sense of humour and try to rise above the minor panics, ill-humour and absolutely unavoidable mis-haps that are part and parcel of being a human. Perfection is so over-rated, isn’t it? I remember so well the day as a new mother when my 4 month old managed to vomit over the bed and me during the early morning feed, and then produce a nappy so vile and amazing that it covered his clothes, his feet and the lining of his car seat, where he was sat. Of course, it had to happen after we’d already had his morning bath. Back to the bathroom, full shower down and bath for him, partial shower for me, and dressed again before going downstairs and washing everything that he had ‘done’ something to. I could have cried, but my switch flicked and I laughed instead. I felt much better, and it’s still one of my abiding memories of motherhood. A real “You know you’re a real mother when….” moments.
- And don’t EVER do comparisons. It’s easy to listen to others or look on social media and start thinking how can they get out on time, how do they do breakfast by candlelight every day, how do they always have work done, children dressed, blah blah blah. Different people do different things. My mornings are never going to be beautiful enough to photograph, but they work for us. And ultimately, that’s all we need.
Hygge and happiness go so well together. If you’d like to read about the small things that have helped me to be happier, my new book is available from Amazon. Happier is all about how to use the small details in life to make you happier. You can get it at Amazon.
I also think the principles of enjoying life and making the most of small details is an important part of How to Hygge Your Summer , my second book which contains my advice on having a hyggely time at home and outside, and which is also available in ebook and paperback version. You can find details about all my books, and how to connect with me on social media on the Start Here page of my blog.