A sprinkle of morning magic

Mornings don’t need to be manic. Two parents share their tips on how to start each day on a positive note.

I love mornings. In the quietude of dawn, a sense of infinite possibility washes over me that offers a precious moment of peace before the day gets underway. What I don’t love is becoming more and more frazzled as I yell at my kids to eat breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth and put on their shoes while I careen from room to room trying to find MY shoes, feed the baby, make lunches and sign school notes.

This state of chaos is why I love reading about the morning routines of other people, from CEOs to elite athletes to yogis. How do they do it? What can I learn from their calm and finely calibrated pre-work schedules? And will I ever stop shouting at my kids to get out the door in the morning?

Exercise physiologist and father of two energetic girls – Belle, 10, and Freya, eight – Jeremy Rae runs personal training studio Summit Performance with his wife Claire in Albury, New South Wales.

In the Rae household, the morning routine starts the night before, when they take time toward the end of dinner to set their intentions for the following day.

Once the sun comes up, Jeremy makes sure he gets his body moving before breakfast, either by running, a workout at the studio or a mobility session at home. “I always do some hip circles, spinal rotations and some breathing squats to energise my system,” he says.

Meditation is another essential element of the family routine. Belle and Freya listen to a guided Smiling Mind meditation each evening at bedtime, while their parents make it a priority in the morning. “Claire and I get meditation in early – or at least attempt to,” says Jeremy. “It’s something we always allocate time for.”

Overall, it’s a calm and intentional start to the day that provides plenty of opportunities to connect as a family. “We’re present as often as possible – teaching food preparation, cooking skills, and playing,” says Jeremy.  “We try very hard to maintain a consistent routine. We feel very grateful that we’ve been able to schedule our work so we can do this.”

Carla Schwef is the founder of cloth nappy and eco-parenting brand Designer Bums. Like Jeremy, Carla is a morning person. “I feel my best in the mornings. It’s when I am fresh and full of energy,” she says.

In an ideal world, Carla’s day would start with 10 minutes of meditation. But with two young children aged six and three, it doesn’t usually work out that way. Carla co-sleeps with her sons, so her day usually starts with a cuddle before she jumps in the shower while the boys read a book together. After everyone gets dressed and has breakfast, the boys play for half an hour in the backyard while Carla tidies up and checks her email. “We don’t watch any TV before school,” she says. “I grew up with this rule, so it was very normal and easy to implement. I find it helps immensely with good listening, staying focused on the tasks that need to be done without distraction, creates a calmer and more peaceful environment and allows for more creative play moments.”

Carla finds that giving the mornings structure helps keep everyone calm and on track. “A smooth morning definitely shapes the day to be more pleasant and productive. If I am organised, and the kids are settled, everything just flows better, which sets the pace for the rest of the day with less of those out-of-control stress feelings,” she says. “It is easier to get things done, [and] feel more productive and in control.”

On some days, however, even the best-laid plans go awry – especially when there is a toddler involved. Some mornings, Carla says, “my three year old will take off his shoes, socks and sometimes pants after I have chased him down to get him dressed in the first place, and he will go and jump into the sandpit and get all dirty while I am rushing around trying to get out of the door. The joys of small kids!”

Nicola Heath

Nicola Heath is a freelance journalist who writes for a range of magazines, newspapers and websites including The Guardian, ABC, The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Daily and SBS.

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