A long time ago I saw a quote online, I think it was from Olympian Rebecca Dussault of Fit Catholic Mom, and it said:
- Something Physical
- Something Mental
- Something Spiritual
- Something Nourishing
This short list is a recipe for so many positive things in a woman’s mind, heart, body and spirit. I so wish I had followed this checklist the whole time I’ve been a mom. I think it would have made such a difference with my exhaustion, my postpartum depression, my struggle to lose baby weight, my mood, my relationship with my babies – all of it.
I remember my friend Jennifer Fulwiler saying in a talk years ago “it is NOT selfish to take care of yourself as a mother, even to take care of yourself FIRST” and it was so freeing. We’ve all heard the saying “you can’t give from an empty tank” and yet so many of us mothers deplete ourselves and reach the breaking point before we start making positive changes in our everyday self care habits.
I started following this 4-step morning checklist about three years ago, and I can testify that it’s made a difference in just about every area of my life. This discipline makes me feel like a cared for human and not a circus performer. The downside is I have to get up a bit earlier than I’d prefer, but the upside is I’ve learned to go to bed earlier, be more productive in a shorter time, and the “nourishing” part gives me more natural energy.
I had to take baby steps to get all four of these into my daily habit/routine. I worked on the spiritual part first, then added the physical, which made me want the nourishing, and now I crave my morning reading time all to myself. I guess habit breeds habit, thank goodness.
I’ve heard a lot of excuses for why a busy/tired mom could never give themselves this four-point checklist every morning (mostly in my head, but also from others). And the excuses are valid: new baby, pregnancy, toddlers who don’t sleep through the night, working from home, a husband who works an odd schedule, being a night owl or flat out not a morning person, too much on the to-do list, and, and, and.
Sisters, excuses are not our friends. In fact they are the enemies that keep us from effecting positive, transformative, life-giving change.
I’ve thought a lot about ways any woman could accomplish all four checklist points in the shortest amount of time. How could anyone do this every day, or at least 3-5x a week? Sometimes half the battle is a step by step action plan to see that these things are doable with planning, some prep, and the right motivation.
I’d like to offer you a sample action plan for giving yourself 45 minutes every morning to work on a new routine. Practically this would look different for every woman, but at least this is a sample plan you could tweak to work for you and your family’s schedule.
Here are a few pre-requisites.
- For this to work, a mindset reset is absolutely necessary. You must tell yourself until you’ve convinced yourself that getting up 45 minutes before your children is BETTER FOR YOU than 45 minutes of extra sleep. Write this out on a piece of paper 100 times, post it as a note on your fridge and bathroom mirror, make it a bookmark in your Bible or favorite book, until you believe that 45 minutes to yourself is better than 45 minutes of hitting the snooze button.
- Set the coffee maker the night before to finish brewing 5 minutes before your alarm is going off in the morning.
- Set out all of your workout clothes the night before – including socks, shoes, water bottle, music and earbuds, every little detail.
Excuses are not our friends. In fact they are the enemies that keep us from effecting positive, transformative, life-giving change.
Once you’re set with your night before prep, I offer you this 45 minute sample plan:
Alarm goes off, get up, get fully dressed in workout clothes including shoes, head to kitchen.
Drink a glass of water (warm with lemon or a tsp of ACV if you can) and a cup of coffee (maybe with a scoop of protein powder or collagen peptides if you like that before exercising).
Sit down at the kitchen table. Pray a Morning Offering, pray through your intentions, and then read your Bible or perhaps the Magnificat until the 15 minutes are up. [Super cool fact: the Catholic Church offers a partial indulgence for reading the Bible reverently for a few minutes every day].
Head outside for a walk, jog, or run. Bring your phone and a pair of earbuds.
For most of my life, when I walked or jogged I listened to music. Sometimes Christian/praise stuff, but I’ve also listened to my share of Beyonce and Taylor in the morning.
I more recently discovered what a great opportunity cardio gives to pray, listen, and learn. In 20 minutes you can pray a rosary and listen to a couple praise and worship songs. Or you could pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet and listen to 15 minutes of a motivational audio book. Or you could listen to 2 praise songs and then listen to the Bible on Audible.
The possibilities are endless for using the time to work on spiritual or mental nourishment. And it’s such an amazing start to the day. I feel like I’ve started to enjoy my neighborhood jogs twice as much as I used to listening to popular music the whole time.
There’s a deeper connection here that might sound cheesy here on a blog, but once you’ve experienced it I think you’ll agree with me. Physical workout and spiritual workout are deeply connected. As endorphins start flowing because your heart is pumping, I have found it to be a ripe time for letting my heart speak, my voice praise, my being tune into God in a way that’s hard to find elsewhere. As we move, He moves us inside.
I have had the experience many times of intending to walk or slowly jog, but I’m either praying or listing to a praise song and my feet just propel my faster regardless of my intentions.
Artists that I’ve found particularly soulful in my morning routine: Matt Maher, Third Day, Needtobreathe, Lauren Diagle, Christy Nockels, Hillsong, His Own, MercyMe, Chris Tomlin, Watermark, Matt Redman.
When you return home, head right back to the kitchen to make a morning power smoothie. Throw in whatever tastes delicious to you. Some ideas:
- Healthy liquid: water, almond or coconut milk, plain yogurt or kefir, chilled green tea, or coconut water, lots of ice
- Leafy greens and veggies: kale, spinach, beets, whatever you like or have on hand
- Frozen fruit: berries, banana, pineapple, mango, etc
- Healthy fat: coconut oil, almond butter, avocado, etc
- Healthy protein source: clean protein powder around 20-25 grams
- Extra superfoods power: chia seeds, hemp seeds, spirulina, fresh ginger, cinnamon, or a superfoods medley from a health food store
Blend your smoothie and pour it in a big mason jar to sip as you prepare your kids’ breakfasts, get little people ready for school, pull toddlers out of cribs, and change into your day clothes.
Drink another glass of water.
In 45 minutes you have done something physical (20 minutes of cardio), something spiritual (prayer, morning offering, scripture reading), something mental (audio book, motivational talk, or morning reading), and something nourishing (drunk plenty of water, along with a powerful blend of energizing superfoods and slow burning proteins for a great start to the day).
All of us can do this. Grab an accountability sister, ask your spouse for help with morning logistics, and pray for the grace to make this happen in your daily life.
You will be blessed for this 45 minutes of concentrated effort, and you in turn will become a blessing to all those you serve throughout your day.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. …Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” – Hebrews 12:1-2, 12-13
Here are some of my favorite things to listen to during my walks or jogs:
- Audio Books that help me grow in any way. Recent ones include 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Petterson, Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, and Dance Stand Run by Jess Connelly.
- The Bible on Audible
- Talks by motivational speakers (I often Youtube them)
- A Podcast
- This recording of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the one by His Own
- Songs by Needtobreath like Testify & Something Beautiful
- Songs by ThirdDay like Soul on Fire
- Songs by Matt Maher like Your Grace is Enough
- Songs by Bethel Music like You Make Me Brave
- Songs by Lauren Diagle like Look Up Child
- Songs by Christy Nockels like Grace Flows Down
- Songs by His Own like Little Girl
I hope you’ll share some of your favorites in the comments!