Daily Dose

Summer Challenge

What’s on every teacher’s playlist in June:

School’s out for summer! School’s out forever! –Alice Cooper. Rock on. It never gets old.

Ok, maybe not forever, but for a carefree couple of months, school is out of session. And most likely, that means that routine and schedules are thrown out the window too. It feels freeing at first, but after a few weeks, most moms are craving the routine of kids being out of the house from 8 until 3 with a regulated bed time that comes before the dawn of early morning arrives.

As a teacher, I’ve often struggled with embracing the freedom of the summer along with the need for a certain amount of routine in my life. Especially now that my life feels like it’s in a constant flux between the weeks when I have my kids and the weeks when I don’t. So this summer, a friend of mine threw down a summer challenge. Before I even knew what it was, I boldly accepted (apparently, that’s the Aries rising sign in my birth chart that’s eagerly saying “did I hear challenge? I accept!! Ok…what is it?”). So I thought I’d offer up a challenge here for every mother who’s soul feels overwhelmed by the chaos of the kids during summer vacation. This challenge is the one thing that I keep consistent all year long and it’s my hope that it will help you handle the crazy with a little more self love and grace this summer.

Morning Routine Challenge

What does your morning routine look like? Do you have one? Is it consistent? Has it changed over time? I’ve been a mother for 18 years now. That’s right, I’ve raised one human from infancy to adulthood and despite all the bumps and detours in our road, I think my oldest turned out to be a pretty phenomenal work in progress. One of the best things I’ve done for myself as I parented through the tumultuous tides of childhood, is have a consistent morning routine. And if you don’t have one (or have one that’s working for you), that’s what I’m challenging you to create for your mental sanity this summer.

It began in my 20s before I was a mother. I learned about transcendental meditation and used to begin every morning with 20 minutes of meditation. Then I had a newborn and found that when I woke to do my meditation after multiple mid-night awakenings to feed my baby, I would promptly fall asleep. Hmmm. That sort of defeated the purpose. My morning routine needed to change. It became something I called “sleep”. That was the best way that I could care for myself with the inconsistent middle of the night feeding schedule and so I stuck to that routine through the birth of my second and third child. Sleep. That doesn’t seem like a morning routine, but for those who have risen in the quiet hours of the morning to feed their crying child understand why sleeping when you can is so monumental.

When my youngest weaned from breast feeding in the middle of the night and I spent my days between trips to the elementary school and the park and music classes and reading series at the library, I noticed that I started to feel worn and weary by the end of the day. I also noticed that I had no morning routine; I awoke and jumped into reactivity. I immediately greeted the day by meeting the needs of others: changing diapers, scrambling eggs, packing lunches, looking for lost shoes, feeding the dogs, kissing my (then) husband as he headed out the door to the sanctuary of work. Something had to change, and the one thing I had control over was my morning routine. I decided that I could set my alarm 20 minutes early so that I could awake to a silent cup of coffee with my favorite books and journal. I discovered that spending time tending to my own soul before catering to the needs of those around me served me and my family well. I spent many years starting my day in the quiet of the morning with a cup of coffee and my books and journal.

Fast forward a few years and our family moved to Idaho and I went back to work as a full-time teacher and part-time mother of three (is there really such a thing as a part-time mother?). I found that my early morning coffee and reading/ journaling time had to evolve into morning coffee and showering/getting ready for work time. That subtle shift in routine worked for a while because I was fueled by adrenaline and the rush of being back in the classroom. By December, I found myself once again exhausted in a frantic sort of way. It was time to bring back a morning routine that allowed my soul time to dance. Shoot, I immediately thought. I am NOT a morning person and my 6am alarm already awakes me so early. Can I really afford the luxury of an extra 30 minutes in the morning? Can I wake up at 5:30am? No was my brain’s immediate response. But yes was my soul’s answer.

So I found myself awaking at 5:30 am to meet with a gal named Adriene who had this at home YouTube channel that was promoting a January challenge called “30 days of Yoga”. Did I hear challenge? The Aries rising in me accepted before my lazy Taurus body could decline. I found myself rolling out of bed to my coffee maker and then to the yoga mat. I had made my new morning ritual “Yoga with a cup of coffee and Adriene” And it worked for me. The thirty days became 60 which became 90 which became 4 years of an at-home morning yoga practice.

Fast forward again through all the challenged that were presented into my personal life between 2018 and 2021 and yoga sustained me through it all. Then one day in February of this year I picked up the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and was challenged to write three long-hand pages every morning before moving into activity. Um, Julia, I’m sort of in a morning routine relationship with Adriene. I don’t think I can incorporate a writing practice in my morning. Once again, my brain said no, but my soul said yes. So once again, I pivoted my morning routine (because let’s be real, 5am was totally out of the question. I mean, I DO need my beauty sleep). On February 25, 2022 I started a new morning routine which involved 30 minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing first thing in the morning. I have done the morning pages for nearly 4 months now and the only variation I’ve added to this routine is to enjoy my ritual morning cup of coffee as I write. As for yoga, I still practice regularly, but not always before work. I discovered that Adriene has a great selection of bedtime yoga routines that I enjoy.

Every routine has served it’s purpose.Every routine has had to evolve as my life has evolved. There is one constant: I always spend the first 30 minutes of my morning by checking in with my soul. I spend it filling my cup before I spend the rest of my day emptying it. Before checking the news or social media or listening to whatever is going on in the early morning for my children, I check in with myself. I put my oxygen mask on. I breathe in what feels good to my soul. And I’m ready to face the day from a place of center and responsiveness, not form an out-of-balance place of reactivity. It’s a game changer.

So back to you and the summer challenge. I challenge you to think about how you spend your first 30 minutes of wakefulness. How do you feed your soul before parceling it out to others all day long? Do you have a routine that’s working for you? Is your routine out-dated and ready of a change? Do you have no routine at all? My challenge is for you to try a morning routine to help stabilize your summer. How can you spend the first 30 days of your day to fuel yourself? Here are some suggestions:

  • yoga
  • reading
  • journaling
  • writing
  • praying
  • walking
  • tai chi
  • meditating
  • your routine here

I am by no means a perfect mother, and not even close to an enlightened soul. But I have learned a few things through motherhood and my 49 years of existence on this planet, and one of them is the benefit of a regular morning routine. Do you accept the summer challenge? If so, please share in the comments below about how you plan to incorporate your new habit. I welcome you to join the Sisterhood of the Moon on Thursday, June 23rd to officially set your intention. Or you can simply whisper it out loud to the Universe (God, Spirit, Divine) and see what miracles await.

Rise by Jason Mraz


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