My Morning Routine with Three Kids
How I have developed a routine that gives me the balance to carry on
The consensus is that life with small children can be exhausting. As a proud father of three, I thought I would share my personal experiences.
At the time of writing, my kids are five, three, and seven months olds. I work full time, and my wife works part-time. Our lives are in many ways at the peak of rush hour. However, I feel we have got it under control for the most part.
This hasn’t always been the case. I struggled for a long time, even before our youngest was born. One of the biggest challenges for me was to juggle family life, work, and other things I wanted to do, such as go to the gym or write down my thoughts. There were so many things I wanted to do, but I felt I could never get anything done.
Before developing my morning routine, I was in a constant rush from the time my alarm clock went off until I arrived at the office. From getting myself ready, then the kids, subsequently taking them to school (on time!) and going to work, I would often feel completely drained.
I didn’t do myself any favors either by convincing myself working out in the morning was not something I could do. This left me going to the gym in the evenings after we put the kids to bed, arriving back late and as a consequence reducing the amount of sleep I would get during the week. When I look back on that time now, it makes absolutely no sense.
The first step towards change came when at work, they started a management development program. The program used Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s book “Extreme Ownership” as reference material. I read the book and got inspired to make some changes to my life. In addition, I read David Goggins “Can’t Hurt Me” and Robin Sharma’s “5 am Club” which combined gave me the ideas and the mindset to develop my morning routine.
My Morning Routine
First, I set a goal for myself. That goal was and still is, to be a better parent, more patient, and more energetic.
I felt that to be a better parent, I needed to prioritize time for myself. I found the best way to do this was to rise before everyone else and get a head start.
To give some context to our situation. Two of our kids are decent sleepers, and one is a bit more unpredictable. The amount of sleep I get every night still varies. Since I have the most control over the time I go to bed, I focus on that. I’m usually in bed before 9.30 pm.
“Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself. Own your morning. Elevate your life.”
Robin Sharma, The 5 am Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life.
I have become a win the morning adept. On weekdays I get up at 5 am, this gives me about an hour of personal time. To make sure I get up on time, I set the alarm on my phone, and I don’t hit the snooze button, easy as that.
I start the day by drinking a glass of water and doing some stretching. Typically I use a foam roller, depending on how sore I feel from my previous workout. This takes around 15 minutes or so.
As the second part of my morning routine, I meditate. I was skeptical at first, but it has really helped to calm my mind and mentally prepare myself for the day ahead. I follow guided meditations from an app. Each session is 10 or 15 minutes.
The last part of the hour I have for myself I spend doing something productive. I either write or learn a new skill to improve my writing. I have about 30 minutes for this, which isn’t a lot but I spend this time far more productively than I would in the evenings.
Our Start of the Day
After the 30 minutes have passed, usually one of my sons will wake up. By that time, I feel ready to start the day. Fixing bottles, changing diapers, making breakfast and lunch, getting them dressed (usually more than once), all in good coordination with my wife I have to add.
On days my wife works I take the kids to school and daycare before I go to work. On other days I go to the gym and go straight to work from there. I no longer need time to recover when I arrive at the office, and I think this is because of how I have structured my mornings.
My mornings with the family are just as busy as before, that hasn’t changed. And as much as I enjoy my morning routine, I accept that it doesn’t always pan out like this. There are days my kids are sick, days they wake up early for no apparent reason, days my wife works an extra shift. There are days I think I have it under control and then the baby barfs all over me. It happens. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Knowing that I can return to my morning routine the next day and that everything will be just fine is soothing. That gets me through even the most challenging of days.