Podcast discussion thread: Sun’s up, morning’s here…

Longtime readers know that I am somewhat obsessed with morning routines. To the extent that anyone who doesn't read this blog regularly might have ever heard my name, it would be in conjunction with a short ebook I wrote several years ago called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Click-bait title, but the bait worked. It hit #3 for non-fiction on Amazon's bestseller charts. The audio version I recorded of it hit #1 for audiobooks on iTunes. This was kind of exciting, especially since the audio book in the #2 spot at the time was Fifty Shades of Grey.*

Anyway, in this week's episode of Best of Both Worlds, Sarah and I discuss morning routines. The short version:

Sarah has a great morning routine.

I do not.

Sarah sets her alarm for 4:50 a.m., so she can be downstairs by 5 a.m. She spends 45 minutes doing various projects: thinking, strategizing, planning, blogging, podcast note review, meditation, etc. Then she exercises from roughly 5:45 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. After that it's a shower and family time (including family breakfast) until she leaves for work at 7:45 a.m. In other words, in roughly 3 morning hours, she has invested time in all her major non-main-job priorities.

My mornings are all over the map. Of late, I've been setting an alarm just to make sure I don't sleep past the point when the big kids need to get up to make the school bus on time. But my alarm has no relevance to the time I actually get up. I tend to get up when the 2-year-old gets up, which is like a game of baby roulette. Will it be 7 a.m.? (yay!) Will it be 4 a.m.? (not-so-yay!)

The good news is that he is now old enough to be reliably distracted by television. So this morning, for instance, I got up a few minutes before 6. We sat on the couch, me with my coffee, and iPhone, and a book, he with his drink and snack and a medley of Daniel Tiger, Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer, and Go Diego Go. During this time I answered emails, read a few pages in the book I was reading, and listened to Best of Both Worlds.**

(He's generally chill during this time. Though at one point this morning he knocked my coffee over, just to watch it spill. I was not happy).

Not all mornings look like this. If my husband is home, he can deal with the kid. I might sleep, or go for a run. Shower. That sort of thing. I generally try to get the screens off by the time the big kids get up. Someone's usually up by 7:30, and I get that child breakfast, and then go find any stragglers and make them breakfast around 7:45 a.m. G officially starts work at 8. I help nudge children along with getting ready for school, and I might get 15 minutes of work time in before I round everyone up to get shoes on at 8:29. We are outside by 8:34. The bus comes at 8:38. I go inside, pour myself another cup of coffee (or reheat a previous one) and am at my desk by 8:40.

I suppose my mornings might look different in a few years. The truth is, I'm not a real "lark" like Sarah. I kind of like to stay up late and read, so if the kids don't have to be up early, I may not get up that early myself. Also, since I work for myself, I often do have the ability to run during the day, and write, and those other things that people might turn into morning routines. On days when I need to travel all day and speak, I often do get up incredibly early to run, so I can fit it in. If you have a "normal" job, mornings really are a great time for stuff like that. If you don't, then there's no inherent reason to wake up at 5 a.m. just to do so. It's about making sure that the things you want to have fit in life fit in life.

How do you spend your mornings these days?

*I find the idea of people listening to Fifty Shades of Grey in the car on the way to work really, really funny.

** Why do I listen to it, given that I recorded it? Since we tend to record in batches, it may have been a while since that episode, and if I plan to blog about it I might need a refresher. But also, I'm aiming to get better, and listening to the podcast allows me to evaluate things like if I'm babbling, or laughing at strange times, or succumbing to any weird vocal tics.

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18 Responses to Podcast discussion thread: Sun’s up, morning’s here…


  1. Tana says:

    I get up at 5 AM just have some quiet time to myself at the time of day when I am my best. I read until my husband comes out to make his breakfast around 6:40, at which point I head to the shower. The two younger kids are up by then (ages 8 and 11) and talk with my husband. Then I make myself breakfast and hope for more quiet until 8:30 when I start school with my kids. They are not quiet before or during breakfast, though, which drives me crazy. My oldest isn’t up until 8 or we would start school earlier – we used to start at 7 AM when my husband left for the day. We all cook ourselves breakfast so it takes a while for everyone to cycle through the kitchen. That probably sounds like a really odd routine, LOL. But it works for us.

    • @Tana – I need to get my kids working on the project of making their own breakfasts. They seem oddly uninspired to take that step – go figure!

  2. Lily says:

    This podcast was beautifully timed – I listened to it while running late for work due to morning chaos! No excuse, really, as I don’t have kids, but forgivable as I’m still dealing with the upheaval of an international move; we were away for the weekend so normal routines were disrupted; it’s my first week of a new job; and I have a really nasty cold. So trying to take it easy this week and experimenting a bit (20 min drive and pay for parking? Or an hour relaxing on the bus? Trying to get other projects done in the morning didn’t work yesterday…but I am not having much luck focusing this evening either!) Hopefully by next week I’ll have worked out a shiny new morning routine as productive as Sarah’s! And yours! Things may be all over the map but it sounds like you’re still squeezing in plenty of important things – you’re a brave (and dedicated) woman to be listening to your own voice!

    • @Lily – I watch videos of me speaking too!

      Congrats on the new job. The first week of a new job is probably not going to be stellar for morning routines, but you’ll figure it out soon!

  3. Clare says:

    Really enjoying your podcast. Our morning routine needs some work. I’m not at my brightest first thing so I have to say I don’t find it easy getting myself and the 3 kids up and out. I remember a guest post from a few years back where the writer said they had a morning minder because she found the morning rush an unsatisfactory way to spend time with her children. At the time I thought this was taking the easy way out. I now think it is inspired!

  4. beth says:

    Our elementary school starts at 7:35AM so mornings are centered around an early departure at our house. I get up at 5AM and go for a 1.5 mile walk, then come home and get myself ready for work. The kids (ages 6 and 8) are up at 6AM. I have breakfast with them and make sure they are ready for school. I leave the house at 6:45 AM to be at work around 7:15AM. My husband puts the kids on the bus at 7:10 and departs for work himself. I don’t mind the early mornings and we are quite efficient at them (we don’t have trouble getting everyone out the door) but they are not leisurely by any means.

  5. Heather says:

    I love listening to your podcast! During this episode, you talked about the pillow soft ear plugs being your love of the week. I have another ear plug recommendation. I usually sleep without waking up no problem. However, my husband was diagnosed with sleep apnea 4 years ago. He got a CPAP machine, which was great for his sleep and awful for mine! I did NOT do well waking up several times a night. I tried all the types of earplugs, but they would fall out in the middle of the night or be uncomfortable. I ended up going to an audiologist, Beltone I think, and having custom made ear plugs. They are perfect! They are made from silicone so they are soft and the only maintenance is to wash them once a month with baby shampoo. Best $190 I ever spent – it saved my sleep, my sanity, and my marriage! 😉 Hopefully this can help some of your other readers/listeners as well.

  6. Amanda says:

    I’m a military doctor so I’ve been through military training, medical school and residency…my mornings have evolved over time. Also I now have a 1 year old which impacts my mornings even more.
    The biggest thing for me- whether I’m waking up by my own choice (setting an alarm) vs being woken up by a baby. It’s such a difference for me mentally.
    For instance, today I set my alarm for 445 and was out the door for the gym/work by 5. (My husband stayed home until 645 for the nanny to arrive.) But I would so much rather wake up by an alarm at 445 than be woken up by a baby at a later time.
    I’m productive on mornings that are under my control and much much less productive when my wake time is dictated by other people.

    • @Amanda- interesting – I guess my kid’s wake-ups have been so widely spread that it’s hard to know when I’d have to wake up to get up before him, and I have no idea what I’d be able to accomplish before then. I am looking forward to the days when I know that I won’t have to deal with kid stuff before, say, 6:45.

    • Riley says:

      I totally agree! I’m also a physician (maybe it’s that we’re so used to getting up early for rounds??) and getting up early and working out puts me in such a better mental state as compared to getting an extra 45 minutes of sleep and being woken up by the kids. I start my day already having something accomplished!

  7. Ruth says:

    I get up at 4:00a, take my shower and all that, leave the house at 5:00a, so I can get to work by 6:00. We have flexible hours and alternative work schedules. I leave work no later than 3:15p so I get home no later than 4:20p. Then I TRY to go to bed around 9:00p. This way, I avoid most of the rush hour traffic (at its peak, it can take up to 2 hours each way instead of 1), plus I get every other Monday off because most days I work an extra hour. I am NOT a lark by any stretch of the imagination. These are the choices I’ve made to give myself as much time of my own as possible. Starting work as late as possible doesn’t help – I’ve tried it and it still takes 2 hours to get there, plus, when we had kids at home it just wasn’t possible.

    You can all hate me in 4 weeks – I’m retiring, and I’ll have a LOT of control over my time for the first time since I was nearly 5 years old. What a concept!!!

    • @Ruth – a brutal commute strikes me as a good reason to get up early. You literally have made more time in your day by doing this – since that time would be lost if you worked different hours.

  8. Kt says:

    I’ve found the Fitbit’s “silent” vibration alarms useful for not waking up my husband when our wakeup times are significantly different.

  9. Margot says:

    It’s interesting, I had just been explaining to my husband why I opt to go to the gym at 5 AM even on days when I have more flexibility and do not “have” to. This episode really got me thinking about how I can better allocate time usage and work on more projects that I would like to do. I also need to get a noise machine for my almost four year-old’s room. She has a fan that is basically used for white noise, but it’s November!

  10. Amy Laski says:

    I am an early bird but my husband is the opposite. To wake myself up for a run before the crack of dawn I have for years been using a Shake Awake alarm clock, clipped to the underside of my pillow. It’s been a marriage-saver! https://www.amazon.com/Shake-Awake-Vibrating-Portable-Travel/dp/B003DQWOBQ

  11. I found this podcast so interesting given that I’m definitely a night owl and I literally do nothing in the mornings except get dressed and leave for work. I’m up at 6.45 and leave at 7.15 🙂 Our South African schools start a lot earlier than yours, it seems. My kids’ school starts at 7:45 M – T, and 7:35 on Fridays.

    BUT….. all those things Sarah does in the morning I do in the evening 🙂

    • @Marcia – there’s nothing magical about mornings. It’s just that for most people, it’s the best time to do those personally important things that life has a way of crowding out: exercise, meditation, creative projects, big picture thinking. If you are already doing those things, then no reason to wake up earlier!

  12. Shana Bull says:

    I also work from home, have a two-year-old and a husband who sometimes has to go into work at five sometimes has to go into work at nine so her morning routines are never the same.

    When my husband is at home usually we take turns waking up early with the toddler, drinking coffee while he watches Sesame Street and planning out our day (via our iPhones).

    I have definitely found that planning out my day before I get into the inevitable time suck of social media allows me to feel more productive in the AM.

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