“My current morning routine is determined by the cute but dictatorial whims of my six-month-old baby.” – Laura Vanderkam Share this quote on Twitter

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Laura Vanderkam

What is your morning routine?

My current morning routine is determined by the cute but dictatorial whims of my six-month-old baby.

When I first started writing down my routine for this series, he had a bad habit of waking up around 3:30am to eat. I would get up and feed him, and then get back down by 4:15am. I would wake up for good around 6 or 6:30, shower, get dressed, and make my coffee. If the baby was back awake, we would go sit on the back porch for a bit enjoying the summer morning until other people, including my three other children under age nine, started stirring.

But the thing about babies is that the routine can change quickly. For about a week or so after that, he woke up every morning at 4:45am. This was better than 3:30, and I’d usually manage to get him back down, and sometimes we’d sleep until 7:00 or so. I liked the sleep, but that meant no time out on the porch with the coffee. The morning I wrote this he woke up at 6:00am, which is infinitely better than 3:30, but that also meant I never went back to sleep.

Perhaps the one constant is that I start my workday at 8:00am when our nanny shows up. Or at least I try. Sometimes there’s a lot of transitioning, especially if a kid wakes up late.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Alas, every day is a new “routine.” But it’s okay. I still get my work done and do the other things I want to do. When the baby is a little older, I’ll be able to choose what time I wish to get up, and hopefully get in a little quiet work during that window before the day starts.

I really admire people with great morning routines (indeed, I wrote a whole book called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast). In the spring of 2014, when my youngest child was two and a half years old, I got into a good routine of waking up at 6:00am, working for an hour, then starting the breakfast routine. I have a vision of creating a morning routine that involves some strength work or yoga, then an hour of work, then the kids. Someday.

What time do you go to sleep?

When the baby was waking up at 3:30am, I went to bed at 10:00pm sharp. When he sleeps longer for a few days in a row, I let myself push that back to 10:30 or 11:00pm.

I’m not really a morning person, and I like having that quiet reading time before bed.

Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?

Nope. I am not a believer in doing stuff the night before to get ready for the morning. Then you’ve just doubled your getting ready time.

I make lunches for the day ahead in the morning while I’m in the kitchen getting breakfast.

Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?

I wish I were capable of sleeping late enough to need an alarm clock. I’m almost always up by 7:00am. I only set an alarm if I need to catch a plane or train in the morning (once every other week or so). I do not hit snooze.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

If it’s a shorter morning (I’ve slept past 6:30am) I make breakfast immediately after feeding the baby and showering. If it’s a longer morning (the baby has gotten me up at 5:00 and I haven’t gone back to bed) then I’ll wait a while so I’m not banging around and waking other people up.

I make myself an omelet: two eggs, and whatever we have around. For a while my favorite was spinach and mushroom, but I experiment. Sometimes I just want two eggs, plain, except for butter and salt.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

No. I’ve tried to do a morning running routine in the past, and I do love being up and running early. I’ll do that on weekends sometimes. My running buddy and I put in 8-11 miles on a river trail nearby starting at 7:00am.

Those are awesome mornings. But during the week I’ve found it’s really best for my family’s schedule if I run in the afternoon. That’s when I need a break, and since I work from home, it doesn’t matter if I’m sweaty.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I often read emails while nursing my baby. So yes, it’s first thing.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

I am an incredibly low-tech person. I don’t think I even have any apps on my phone.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

I try to spend interactive time with my family, and enjoy these moments we can have together. I can often get a little bit of time to talk with each kid before we go our separate ways. Then, once my workday starts, I schedule my toughest work first.

I crank out drafts or do heavy editing at 8:00am; lighter stuff and phone calls need to happen later. When I’m scheduling my days well, I leave big open chunks of time in the morning so I can concentrate, and then I start phone work after 10:30. I don’t always stick to this, but I try.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Coffee. With heavy cream (no sugar).

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

My six-month-old doesn’t know what day it is, so pretty much. And yep, it’s eggs and coffee every morning, unless I’ve run 10 miles. Then I let myself eat pancakes.

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

If the kids are with me, the routine looks pretty similar. If they’re not, then I relish being able to set an alarm and sleep until it goes off. Or not set an alarm! While I was away at a conference recently, I went to bed at 10:00pm and slept until 8:00am. It was amazing, really.


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