The Crucial and Elusive Morning Routine

The windows of our hotel room only open about three inches. That’s not enough to get a good breeze going, but it’s enough to move out some of the stale, conditioned air and let in the sounds and smells of outdoors.

I wake up in the middle of the night with the bruised smell of dew in the air. In the silence, the odor envelops me and carries me safely back under the surface of sleep.

Lying in bed in the morning, nursing my son and waiting for the moment he’s settled enough that I can slip out of the room without waking him, I listen to the sounds outside and guess the time.

When it’s still dark, I hear the raucous songs of the birds greeting the dawn.

If I can hardly hear the birds over the susurrant sound of the traffic, I know my husband’s already left for work, and the kids and I are in danger of missing the breakfast they serve downstairs every day.

Usually I get out of bed about halfway between these two sets of sounds.

I’ve been waking up before the kids this week. Not much before because they seem to have a preternatural ability to detect when I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them. I usually get about ten minutes before one of them emerges, stumbling, yawning, rubbing their sleep-swollen eyes with the backs of their wrists. During the few minutes I have alone, I go through as much of the routine I’ve devised as I can.

I brush my teeth and my tongue. I practice some yoga (three Surya Namaskar A, two Surya Namaskar B, then one extra pose based on where my body needs to open that morning). I rub oil into my hands and temples and forehead, then wash my face. I dress. I drink a glass of water.

If I get to this point and I’m still alone, I don’t know what to do with myself. The one time it happened, I felt a momentary thrill of escape then quickly made myself a mug of chamomile tea and sat on the sofa with a book just as I heard my son fumbling with the handle on the bedroom door.

So far, I like my routine. I make a point of finishing it even if the children wake up at the same time I do. They enjoy watching me do yoga, and that makes the process much more giggly than when I do it on my own. I get the pleasure of watching my son’s version of a Sun Salutation, complete with a Warrior 2 that looks, strangely, more like a body-building pose. I figure it’s valuable for them to see what Mom does when they’re sleeping. If they know what to expect, maybe when they wake up and sense that I’m no longer asleep, they can let the image of Mommy doing yoga carry them back to sleep.

At the very least, it helps me begin the day more peacefully than I otherwise do, which is a benefit to all of us.

The biggest surprise so far, aside from my being able to remember all of the steps of my routine, is that I’ve not been getting angry at my kids when I hear the latch of the bedroom door just as I’m taking my first forward bend. I’ve made a conscious choice to be peaceful in the morning and to greet whatever comes along, internal or external, with joy and calm.

Amazingly, I’ve been able to do that.

I admit, I’m generally a bit discouraged when I first realize that my alone time is over almost before it’s begun. But I focus on their cute little faces, my son’s still-chubby legs and sleepy smile, or my daughter’s long and slender limbs and disheveled hair, and I find that I really am happy to see them.

And that is a gift for all of us.

Do you have a morning routine? Do you prefer a peaceful morning or an energizing morning?

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