How the “morning routine” narrative hurts mothers

I’ve always wanted to be an early riser. I’ve watched Morning routine YouTube videos with envy, as fitness professionals, executives, all talk about how they set their alarm for 5 a.m. and get up before the morning sun. Productivity starts in the morning, I’m told. I’ve listened to women that I admire talk about how little sleep they get…how they are up before anyone else in their household, writing their blogs in the quiet sanctuary of their laundry room. Google Mark Whalberg’s morning routine and you’ll be bombarded with articles of how the actor, producer, businessman starts his day at 2:30 am.

You’ve probably heard it all the time. Highly successful people wake up early. To be more productive, start your day earlier. Begin with a gentle stretch routine and then go out for your morning run or hot yoga session. Afterward, make yourself a smoothie from fresh blended greens and ginger. Finally, spend a few moments in reflection, perhaps meditation or journaling to plan out your day.
Train yourself to wake up earlier and establish a morning routine in order to live the life you want.

This is an example of one of those narratives that are rooted in male-dominated ideologies that are problematic for women, especially mothers. If we are searching for core assumptions and beliefs about the world that we need to shift so we can move away from the patriarchy look no further than the wake up early and establish your daily routine narrative.

I want to be clear here. I’m not against getting a restful night’s sleep and waking up early to start the day off well

. In fact, when I do, I feel really good, (being rested before waking up early is a key part here), But the message, as it stands, when we attach the effort to productivity and a corporate view of ‘success,’ and when we fail to address the challenges that women, specifically, mothers, face in an early-to-rise routine is a problem. We need a reframe of this whole process to honor the lived experience of mothers who also work outside the home.

Here’s why:

The process that you read about is inherently selfish. A luxury most moms can’t afford.

If only we could get up and focus solely on ourselves. Many moms do get up early. They get up early to make kids’ lunches. They are not only getting themselves ready but also helping everybody else get up and prepare for the day. It may be that we can get up a few days of the week and get our workout in, or spend time reading the news oh, but it’s not going to be every day. The thing about being a mother is that you have a focus that goes beyond just you. Yes, we do need to get better at self-care, but we need to do that with flexibility, grace, and patience.

Our lives are full of unexpected duties and tasks that fall pretty exclusively on mothers

It’s a well-researched fact that most child and domestic responsibilities continue to fall on mothers. So your kids need to be dressed in special clothes for an event at school. They have to take their diorama or not to scale model the California missions to school that morning. there’s a special celebration in the classroom and everybody is contributing a traditional family dish. There’s a big test coming up and your child has asked you to wake them up early and help them study. A mother’s life is full of unexpected duties and responsibilities that are often difficult to predict. It’s especially fun when we learn about these the night before. So the adaptability and flexibility is a prerequisite, which makes a scripted and outlined morning routine incredibly difficult.

“Yes, I’m actually indulging in too much sleep,” said NO mother ever!

People just need to choose to get up early and not sleep in. Getting up early is a sign of discipline. It’s a way to have time to yourself and to enhance your ability to eat healthier, be more organized, and stay stress-free. So set that alarm and rise with the sun!

I am going to call this out right now…bullshit!

If there’s one thing moms aren’t doing it’s getting too much sleep. Moms are not squandering their day with lazy habits, and this idea of getting up to get your workout, your foam rolling, your chia and flax see acai bowl in before 7 a.m. is just another way we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves and create standards we can’t live up to. You are already disciplined and committed. if you’re like me, you definitely need to stay consistent with exercise, you probably could use a few extra glasses of water throughout the day, and there may be ways to be a little more organized, but don’t interpret this message to mean that you are the problem.

So what is my goal now…

Over the last year, I’ve tried to be extra attentive to the narratives that do a disservice to women. There are already enough harmful social standards that women deal with. The bottom line is that we are existing in a world that orients to the male experience. Women have tried to insert themselves into that experience and it just does not work.

So I do love getting up early. I love those mornings where I can get a workout in, enjoy a cup of coffee, and spend even five minutes in my journal thinking about my day. All of those things don’t happen consistently in my mornings. Sometimes I may just have time to get a short workout in. Sometimes I just grab my journal and think about what I would like to get done in the day, and other times, I do none of those things and spend my morning washing a sports uniform that was hidden in a gym bag and cutting up carrot sticks for an 11-year olds lunch. Some days I set my alarm to try to get up early but I abort the minute I realize that I didn’t have a good night’s sleep and don’t feel at all rested. This might come after a night where I was up late doing my work, or after a night I was up tending to tears and putting a cool washcloth on a feverish forehead. While I have every intention to start my day off with some healthy personal routines, I give myself permission to create that routine based on what I need at the moment. And sometimes, I just need to stumble out of bed, pour cream in my coffee, and drag myself through the start of the day.

And I want to give you permission to do the same.

Yes, try to wake up early. Try to start your day the night before by getting enough sleep. Attempt to find ways to incorporate exercise and reflection as a daily habit and practice, eat healthily and drink plenty of water. But don’t expect yourself to do all of this before 7 am. Give yourself latitude and grace for moving through your hectic and chaotic day as best you can. You are productive enough. It does not mean that we can’t strive to make shifts to achieve our goals and make our lives better with more self-care and wellness, but it does mean that we don’t have to fall into the trap of narratives that tells us we should crush our individual wellness goals every day by 7 a.m.

So I want you to free yourself of yet another message that puts women at a disservice and creates a model of something we just cannot live up to. Not only is it incredibly difficult to commit to, but it doesn’t fit within the flexible and demanding world that we are trying to balance. Your morning is yours. make it work for you.

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