“I don’t get hungry until around 10:00-11:00am, and my rule is don’t eat if you’re not hungry. Unless there are cookies.” – Melissa Clark Share this quote on Twitter

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Melissa Clark

What is your morning routine?

The phone alarm goes off at 6:16am; I meant to set it for 6:15 but am too lazy to adjust it, and it really doesn’t matter. Bach cello suites to quietly lull me out of bed. The goal is to not wake my husband, who sleeps for another half hour. I keep quiet in the bathroom, too, trying not to clang around with my toothbrush and neti pot and nail brush and all the other morning ablutions. Then I throw on leggings and a sweatshirt, the mom uniform of Park Slope. It takes me fifteen minutes to get downstairs. Then I’ve got thirty minutes to myself before I have to wake up the kid (Dahlia, who’s ten) at 7:00am.

I drink a full twelve-ounce glass of water, spiked with lemon. The rule is that I can’t have tea until I drink up the water, and since I really want tea, I do it. Then I have tea, well-steeped Assam with whole milk.

I have twenty-five minutes left for early morning emails and planning my day. What do I need to get done? I make a mental list and organize myself, checking the calendar, checking my list of due dates for recipes I’m working on. Do I have enough orzo for the pasta salad I need to make today, or should I stop at the store on the way home from walking the kid to school?

Then there is yoga. Every morning I think about doing twenty minutes of restorative yoga from Glo before I wake the kid. I’ve done that exactly three times in the last year. But maybe today will be the day I make it four times!

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At 7:00am I wake the kid and empty the dishwasher while making her a smoothie (I slip in an egg white if there’s one left over in the fridge or add yogurt). Then she gets buttered whole grain toast and honey. While she eats breakfast I make her lunch—she just started eating sandwiches, thank the sandwich gods. In years past, I’d poach a chicken breast some mornings because she’s spoiled and I’m a food writer, so it’s actually no big deal for me to poach a little chicken breast and there’s always fresh thyme in the fridge. But I’m glad those days are over. Sometimes she just gets a container of salami, plus fruit and cut up cucumbers. Depends on how tired I am.

At about 7:15am my husband comes downstairs, and he makes me more tea while I make him a jammy egg with soft butter and salt and pepper, and toast cut thickly and spread with so much butter it leaks out the other side. It’s nice to do these things for each other; it makes us both feel taken care of.

Two and a half days a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday) I walk the kiddo 1.2 miles to school and back. On those days we rush out the door (homework, lunch, knitting for her elective all in the bookbag—check, check, check). We are out the door by 8:07am to get her there by 8:22 or 8:23, depending on how many dogs we stop to talk to. School starts at 8:25am and she hates being late. I could use some of that.

Then I walk home, arriving by 8:40am or so. Then I sit down at my computer and get to work.

At this point, I have not eaten anything yet. I don’t get hungry until around 10:00-11:00am, and my rule is don’t eat if you’re not hungry. Unless there are cookies.

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

For the past five years, since Dahlia started kindergarten. It all revolves around her.

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

The lemon-water drinking is a recent addition—I started it about a year ago. And I am going to start doing that twenty minutes of yoga.

What time do you go to sleep?

Between 10:30pm and midnight.

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

Start the dishwasher so I can unload it while the tea brews the next morning.

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

I use an alarm but I never hit the snooze because I don’t want to wake my husband.

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

I don’t eat breakfast until around 10:00-11:00am. On a good day I have a bowl of fruit with homemade yogurt and granola, or toast with lots of butter and a jammy egg with more butter. Or I’ll eat cookies, if there are cookies. Cookies > fruit and yogurt.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Yoga! I do twenty minutes of restorative yoga three times a year. And on days when I don’t walk my daughter to school (Mondays, Wednesdays, and either Fridays or Saturdays) I go running. Sometimes I take a mat pilates class, but that’s not part of the morning routine.

Do you have a morning meditation routine?

No meditation at all. When I do yoga, I avoid Savasana.

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

First thing.

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

I listen to the radio every morning—WFMU’s Wake and Bake with Clay Pigeon. I love that show.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

6:17am.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Getting the kid fed, lunched, and off to school.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

Around 6:30am, lemon water and then tea. I only do coffee when I really need it. Then it works!

How does your partner fit into your morning routine?

See above for tea/egg-making interaction. But my husband doesn’t talk much in the morning. He’s a night owl. I’m a morning person. The rule is that I can talk to him in the mornings and he will listen, but he won’t answer me until after 11:00am.

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

NO SCHOOL ON WEEKENDS! So it’s totally different. I sleep in until 7:00 or 7:30am. It’s marvelous.

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

When I’m on the road at a hotel, it’s totally different. No breakfast or lunch to make, no school to get to on time. If there’s a kettle in the room, I’ll drink my tea right away, in bed with my computer, and I don’t even think about yoga. I get so much work done in hotels.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I’m pretty flexible. As long as I have my tea, I’m good.

Anything else you would like to add?

As soon as my kid is in college, everything will change but I don’t know in what ways. But I hope it involves more yoga.


Photo of Melissa by Eric Wolfinger.

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