“The silence in the morning holds lots of expectations and is more hopeful than the silence at night.” – Victoria Durnak Share this quote on Twitter

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Victoria Durnak

What is your morning routine?

After being fed 2-3 times during the night, my six-month-old son is ready for the day around 6:30am. He rolls around in his crib (or in the bed next to me) and says, “Heh?” My husband changes him and they play together while I get dressed.

When the impatience in my son’s voice grows, I feed him again. After I’ve had breakfast, we watch a music video together. At the moment, this is his favorite.

Around 8:00am, my son is ready for a nap. He sleeps outside in his stroller, and I enter my studio above our apartment in Skien, Norway. I have a one-year stipend to live in the apartment that belonged to the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s family. I currently work on sculptures for my September exhibition at Galleri Storck in Oslo.

The exhibition is called My Morning Routine and is a collaboration with ceramicist Ivana Králíková. I’m making muesli sculptures, and the premise for the works is that they are made during my son’s first nap of the day. It’s a gamble, because the nap can be anything from thirty minutes to two hours long!

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Life with an infant is a constant negotiation of routine. We follow a routine, and then my son learns a new skill or his teeth are bothering him or he is unsettled by something or he acquires different needs, and the routine has to change.

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The sculptures in the show will be from all of his morning naps in August. I devote my practice to the question: “Strangers, why?” In the upcoming show, Ivana and I ask, “How do we ready ourselves before we meet those strangers?”

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

Before having the baby, I woke up naturally without an alarm between 8:00am and 9:00am, but I enjoyed the mornings where I got up earlier more. It was easier to get caught up in stuff at nighttime, and I rarely went to bed before midnight.

I have learnt that I function with little sleep. Even though it is rough to get out of bed, I enjoy the quietness and fresh air once I am on my feet. The silence in the morning holds lots of expectations and is more hopeful than the silence at night.

At some point I would like to include a short run in my morning routine. I miss running, but currently I walk most of the day and rest my feet whenever I can.

What time do you go to sleep?

9:00pm if I’m exhausted, but more often 11:00pm, as after 7:00pm (when my son falls asleep) is when I read, write, plan sculptures, and answer emails.

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

I occasionally take a short walk before going to bed, but I would like to do it more often. It helps clear out my brain before falling asleep.

Some mornings I feel ready for the world immediately; other mornings I need more time adjusting to the fact that other people outside of my family exist. I suspect that the outcome is connected to my evening activities, but I have yet to figure out how.

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

There is no snooze button on my cute, wriggly alarm!

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

I love breakfast. I start looking forward to it in the evening.

My favorite breakfast is yogurt with seeds, oats, nuts, and fruit, and a glass of grapefruit or orange juice. Even though it is 8:00pm, I actually had to make a bowl while writing this.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

Every once in a while I do a 7-Minute Workout, to my son’s amusement. The plank position is hilarious to him. Sometimes he is impatient about it though, and it becomes a one-minute or two-and-a-half-minute workout.

I carry him around a lot throughout the day. He is very busy, at times too busy to rest, even when he needs it. In the baby carrier he calms down immediately, and most days I carry him around for several hours, both inside and outside the house.

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

I check my email during breakfast and find time to reply during the day if there is something urgent. If not, I reply to emails after my son falls asleep.

I send myself a lot of emails during the day. I use it as a Post-it Note system. My husband only checks emails three days a week; what a lunatic! Just kidding, I’m kind of jealous. Sometimes I try to do the same, but then I go back to checking every day. In my post office I saw an image of a kid and a mailman. The accompanying text said: “Kids love receiving mail.” Grownups do too!

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

In August I used the positive psychology app Happify for five minutes during breakfast to see if it would affect my mood and, eventually, the sculptures.

Muesli, as popularized by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner, was originally used therapeutically, and I am wondering if morning routines are small, self-regulated therapy sessions that enable us to interact with each other each day.

How soon do you check your phone in the morning?

I check my email during breakfast, but on my iPad. I rarely receive texts or calls, so I often misplace my phone (to my husband’s confusion).

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

Feeding my son and guiding him into his first nap, then working on my muesli sculptures and mobilizing myself to meet people other than my family members.

What and when is your first drink in the morning?

I have a few sips of water as soon as I wake up, but I find it hard to drink in the morning even though I am thirsty. I often plan to have water with lemon, then forget. Establishing new routines is hard, but I’ve come to realize that doing it for another person, like my son, is much easier.

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

I follow this routine every day. Since becoming an artist I have never differentiated much between the week and weekend. In the future this is something I know will (and I want to) change.

When my son enters kindergarten in a year, we will probably have weekend activities and a weekday routine. At the moment, we might as well see an exhibition or take a field trip in the middle of the week.

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

The baby’s internal clock and needs are the same when we are travelling. Away from my studio, I spend his naptime planning new works and writing.

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

My son is dependent on that nap. Some babies can go without sleep for longer stretches, but my son becomes impatient and unfocused. My exhibition is also dependent on that nap, so when he skips it I get nervous about the show!

Victoria’s exhibition, the wonderfully named (but unassociated) My Morning Routine, is showing at Galleri Storck in Oslo, Norway this month.

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