Morning Routine

My alarm vibrates at 5:30 a.m., working its way into my dream as a bug or a weird dance beat or something wrong with my car. I wake up long enough to turn it off and think, “I’ll just sleep until my spouse wakes up. I need more sleep anyway.”

At about 6:00 a.m., I get out of bed and head to the bathroom where I weigh myself, put on my workout clothes, and re-braid my hair if it’s too loose to stay up while I exercise.

In the kitchen I fill my water glass, leaving some drips in the bottom of the sink for the cat. I take my thyroid meds and then walk blearily downstairs.

While the computer boots up, I scoop the litter boxes, sweep the floor, empty the dehumidifier reservoir, refill the cat’s water dish, and wash my hands. On mornings when I sleep in later, my spouse has done everything but refill the water dish (and wash my hands).

I type in my password and put on my shoes while everything’s loading up.

I click the links in my Fitness Blender plan to bring up the day’s workouts, record my weight on the FitBit dashboard, then check e-mail and Facebook until I get so disgusted with my laziness that I make myself actually get up and exercise.

After forty to eighty minutes of jumping around the basement, I take off my shoes, log my workout, then hobble back upstairs.

I interrupt the children’s play to instruct them to start eating breakfast, then I go take a shower and get dressed for the day, making beds and stowing dirty clothes along the way.

Back in the kitchen, I once again tell the children to eat breakfast, then I put fruit in a bowl, a grain-free muffin on a plate, and decaf on to percolate. When everything is ready, I sit down at the table and eat my breakfast and drink my coffee while I do a NY Times crossword puzzle on the laptop. The kids know it’s time to do homeschool when they hear the little song that means I’ve finished the puzzle. (They get much more time to play on Fridays than they do on Mondays.)

Then we all brush our teeth and start our studies.

This is what I’ve done nearly every morning since October 2014, except Sundays, which is my exercise day off. On Sundays, I try to take a walk before breakfast in the time I otherwise do exercise videos, but that doesn’t always happen.

I don’t know how exactly this routine started. Ever since I started taking thyroid meds, I’ve had to do something for at least thirty minutes before breakfast, so things just naturally sneak into that space. For a while it was writing, then neighborhood walks. Now it’s exercise videos. Over the years, the ritual has just become more and more elaborate around this thirty-minute wait.

If I don’t do this routine, I end up in a very irritable mood. Even on vacation, I try to maintain some variation of the routine, for my sanity and for the benefit of everyone with whom I’m likely to come into contact. I’m kind of like David Banner in the late-1970’s Hulk TV show—“Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”—except that I take more personal responsibility for my moods.

And sometimes I don’t do the routine because I’ve woken up in a very irritable mood. Last week, the routine got derailed because I got pissed off at the Fitness Blender workout I was doing. I shut off the thing with twenty minutes to spare and stomped upstairs swearing about Daniel and Kelli.

My spouse stared wide-eyed and tried not to make any sudden movements. The kids just ignored me.

Although this routine’s been working well-ish for almost a year, lately I’ve found myself wanting to change things up a little. I have no idea what kind of change to make, so I’ll probably just flail about for a few weeks until I either fall into a new routine or become happy with the old one again.

How do you start your day? Do you have a morning ritual? If so, can I borrow some of it for myself?

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