The older I get, the more comfort I find in routine, which is something I didn’t realize I took such comfort in until I had James, and all routine went out the window. I missed predictability, structure. We were eating takeout more frequently than ever—or snacking straight through meals—and within a few weeks, I recognized just how much I craved the normalcy of regular, healthy meals and how good they left me feeling. Now that James is 11 months old, routine is back in our lives. We have a morning routine, nap routine, bedtime routine—and eating balanced, intentional meals are vital to keeping all of them running smoothly. Since I love reading about other people’s daily lives, I thought it would be fun to give you a peek inside our mornings.
One thing I always, always, always aim for is a balance between great taste and good nutrition, especially in the morning, knowing that how I start my day has the power to set the tone for the rest of it. This is why I like Cascadian Farm organic whole grain cereals. Not only do they taste good, but they make me feel good about eating them, too. More on that below!
Our Morning Routine
On a typical day, I wake up when I hear James start to stir on the monitor set next to my bed around 6 o’clock, but occasionally he’ll wake up as late as 7 (7:45 once, which was alarming to me) and as early as 4:30am. I get out of bed, brush my teeth, and go to his room. No matter how tired I feel, I am so happy to see him when I walk through his door. “Good morning, my baby boy” I say, as he smiles, waves, and says “Hi!” (sometimes with a ‘T’ on the end—hiiiiiT, which is funny and adorable). I change his diaper before heading downstairs.
James plays with his basket of toys that I keep in the kitchen while I pour myself an iced coffee (yes, even in the winter). The second I open the fridge though, he power crawls toward it and attempts to climb the shelves inside it—and depending on how many potentially dangerous glass items are in it, I decide whether or not to let him try. I make him a bottle.
I carry the bottle, my coffee, and James into the living room and feed him on the couch, which takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on how distracted he gets. Afterward, we read books and play on the floor for a while. By 7:15 or so, James will get engrossed in playing with something (lately he’s loving this farmhouse my sister-in-law gave us because it comes with a dozen plastic farm animals) and I’ll let him play by himself for 10 minutes while I put on a load of laundry or clean up the kitchen. And if I can’t sneak away, I don’t sweat it, because one thing I’ve learned in motherhood is that the more productive I think I should be while I’m with him, the more overwhelmed I feel and the less well I do any single thing.
Around 8 o’clock, James will rub his eyes, yawn, crawl into my lap and lay his head on my shoulder (and I melt). We go upstairs to his room for a nap. If you’ve read my baby posts, then you know that my little guy has never had the easiest time with sleep. Thankfully, he’s got nighttime sleep down, but naps are always touch and go. Sometimes he’ll sleep on his own in his crib and sometimes I have to hold him for the duration of the nap. There have been stretches of time when it seems like we turned a corner and he’s figured out napping on his own, but they’re always short-lived. That’s OK, though! Daniel and I don’t get worked up about it. We know that eventually he’ll get the hang of it and we’ll drown in a pool of our own tears over how much we miss holding him every day.
His first nap of the day is usually an hour long, sometimes two. I sit in the glider, holding him across my chest with a pillow kind of propping him up under his side (so that my arm doesn’t atrophy) and set my laptop on my knees. I’ve gotten really, really good at typing with one hand.
This naptime is precious because I’m my sharpest and most energetic in the morning, so any work task I really need to tackle that day is best handled as early as possible. I spend the first 10 minutes reading and replying to emails. Over the years I’ve learned that email can be a black hole, so setting a time limit keeps me focused and productive.
After email, I open up my To Do list. I make this list of To-Do’s every night before I go to bed—a habit I’ve kept up for a few years now. The list used to serve as a kind of brain dump, a way of clearing all the clutter in my mind before bed, but now it’s more of a way of being intentional with my time and energy. I always make sure to order the list by importance (with #1 being top priority) and break-down larger tasks into specific, actionable items (for example, rather than “Publish chicken blog post,” I’ll list: Draft headnote for chicken recipe, edit and upload photos, calculate nutrition). I spend the remainder of James’ nap tackling that list—writing blog posts, editing articles for my Yahoo column, editing photos, etc. I know I’ll have a few hours in the afternoon to continue working so I don’t need to accomplish everything. My only goal is to achieve, or at least make headway, on the hardest/most overwhelming task on the list.
Once James wakes up, I change his diaper and we head downstairs for breakfast. I make him a bowl of oatmeal with milk and mix-ins like apple and cinnamon, berries, banana…and while that cools, I prep my own breakfast. I like something easy and convenient, so a yogurt bowl is my go-to, with plain yogurt (sometimes I buy Greek for myself but most often I just use the plain whole milk yogurt that I buy for James), fruit, and some type of crunchy whole grain granola or cereal.
I’ve been a fan of Cascadian Farm’s organic whole grain cereals and granolas for years because they’re full of fiber and made with nutritious, organic ingredients that are easy to identify. This week, I’m trying the New Cascadian Farm Gluten Free Honey Vanilla Crunch Cereal. The toasty honey-vanilla flavor on these tiny puffed squares reminds me of French toast, only it’s not the slightest bit cloying or artificial-tasting, like some flavored cereals can be. And with ingredients like whole grain cornmeal, whole grain sorghum flour, chickpea flour, and dried sweet potato, there’s a whopping 26 grams of whole grain in each box.
After breakfast, both of us are usually covered in whatever we ate, so now’s the time to clean up and get dressed for the day. The caveat is that we’re at the stage where James hates lying still for diaper or clothing changes. Have you seen videos of people trying to wrangle a crocodile? That’s what it looks like here. The silver lining is that putting clothes on my baby might technically count as cardio.
Once we’re dressed, we leave the house for an activity. Either we go to the park, to the library for story time or music class, the grocery store, or we run some type of errand.
What does your morning routine look like?