Caregivers often struggle to find time for themselves—and often spend all their energy caring for an older adult and neglecting their own self-care. Establishing a good morning routine is one way to ensure caregivers get the time they need to start the day right, without feeling like they’re always trying to beat the clock.
Nineteenth-century philosopher Richard Whately once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”
In other words, seize the day, and start by doing something meaningful.
Leadership author and speaker John C. Maxwell’s added this advice:
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
In other words, establishing well-thought-out, repeatable daily activities can make a big difference in our lives.
Combining these two pieces of wisdom leads us to the importance of establishing a morning routine that works for caregivers, giving you time for personal care and reflection before the day gets away from you with medical appointments and all the care services you provide. This can allow you to be more present for the older adults you care for and add a little predictability to your daily life.
The best morning routines vary depending on your situation, but here are some ideas and tips for developing a routine that improves your quality of life.
- Go to bed with a plan. As you’re winding down for the evening, set your morning plans. What time will you get up? What will you wear? What’s for breakfast (for you and your loved one)? What else will you incorporate into your routine? When you plan ahead, the morning just goes a lot better. Make sure you build in time for the things you want to do, like stretching and meditation. The plan can be simple (and it helps if it’s the same or similar each day), but make sure you have one in place.
- Don’t snooze, or you’ll lose. Sometimes we just don’t want to leave the comfort of our beds. But hitting that 10-minute snooze button is not the best idea. Beyond the psychological effect of telling your brain you’re not ready to face the day, hitting snooze can actually leave you feeling groggy, according to Cleveland Clinic and other health organizations. It’s better to wake up, get up and face the day, knowing you can sneak in a rest or short nap later if you need to.
- Make your bed. You read that right. Making your bed right away creates an organized environment and sets the tone for a peaceful day. It also gives you one completed, well-done task first thing in the morning. Check out Navy SEAL William H. McRaven’s book for more on the benefits of this habit and others.
- Drink a glass of water. We know you want coffee or tea, and you can have that, too. Just add some good old-fashioned water to your body as well. Most of us are slightly dehydrated, and drinking a glass first thing will ensure you get at least some water in your body immediately.
- Practice self-care. Family caregivers with home care of an older adult on their minds may think they just don’t have time to go for a walk, run or swim, or even read for 15 minutes. However, giving yourself time in the morning to do something for yourself can help you be more present for your loved one. It can also help you look forward to getting up in the morning. What you decide to do depends on what you like. If you can’t come up with anything, try something new and find what makes you feel energized and ready for the day. Consider the following:
- Meditation – Find a good meditation application for your phone, like Ten Percent Happier or Headspace.
- Exercise – Choose your favorite, or mix it up. Even a simple walk will do the trick.
- Spend time in silence – This can be especially helpful if your loved one is particularly verbal or you’re spending a lot of time going to doctor appointments and making phone calls.
- Write out your worries – If you’re anxious – and even if you’re not – journaling your thoughts can be the equivalent of telling a friend your troubles.
- Write out your gratitude – Gratitude is a powerful force. Jot down what you’re grateful for each day, and you may find yourself becoming more positive and more able to focus on what’s good rather than what’s going wrong.
- Read some positive quotations or affirmations – Check out this list of daily affirmations.
- Put first things first. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, tackle your biggest task. Have you been putting off a difficult conversation with your family member? Do you need to secure a doctor’s appointment? Do you need more supplies for mealtimes? Whatever it is that’s most pressing, take it on early, and then you can go on with the rest of your day with a sense of confidence and ease.
Looking for more tips on developing a morning routine? Check out this list for making your morning happier.