Easy Individualized Morning Routines for the Family

Child running barefoot in the grass

I had thought mornings with a family would be my partner and me sitting at the table leisurely drinking coffee and brunching together while reading the paper. And, if we had kids (I thought maybe 1-2 if any) they would cheerfully get ready needing occasional help with buttons and socks.

Turns out, I don’t read a physical paper, if I get to eat at the table I’m lucky, and I don’t buy clothes with buttons unless my kids can manage them on their own.

In fact, for a while there, our mornings were anything but peaceful and we didn’t know it but not having a simple morning routine impacted our night time sleep.

What Our Healthy Morning Routine Looks Like

Every day my 11-year-old and 13-year-old, wearing headphones, stumble into the living room, bleary eyed and groggy. Barely able to form a coherent sentence, they each head outside where they stand for 30-90 seconds barefoot in the grass with their faces to the sky, taking deep breaths most certainly NOT talking to each other. By the time they come back in they’ll be full of teen chill and on their way to the kitchen to feed the bottomless pits that are their stomachs. 

Meanwhile my husband is in the kitchen in some stage of coffee making, from putting the kettle on and grinding beans to pouring two mugs of the steaming black brew (and bringing one to me). Then he hides in the kitchen for 10 seconds to breathe in his liquid energy alone for a fleeting moment. 

Our 3-year-old is declaring what song selection she wants and I connect my phone’s bluetooth to the stereo and press play so she can twirl through the house to be constantly in motion for the rest of the morning getting ready for school. The 9-year-old is chatting about her dream or what she’s looking forward to in her day, brushing her hair and packing All The Snacks for school. My eldest is probably packing up to head to dance class and my next two biggest are still in bed but will drag themselves outside barefoot in another hour or two. 

As for me, I’m on the couch nursing my youngest who can’t function well in the morning until she’s had two boob-fulls which is not unlike me and coffee. When I get the chance, I’ll head outside for a minute, get my feet in the dewy grass and fill my lungs with the crisp morning air before heading out with my cup of coffee in hand and the baby in stroller to take the preschooler to school.

I’m Jessica, a relationship and parenting coach and mom of 8 girls in the Pacific Northwest.

That’s 8 girls with 2 bathrooms, 9 beds, 2 dogs, 5 bedrooms, dozens of shoes, countless pairs of socks, infinite mountains of laundry, and so many dishes.

Mornings in our house are a special kind of chaotic.

A Good Morning Routine for Our Family Had to Be as Unique as We Are

Cropped image of two people sitting at the breakfast table, showing hands preparing foodCropped image of two people sitting at the breakfast table, showing hands preparing food

There was a time when I tried to coordinate our mornings with precision and order attempting to be a well-oiled machine with a calm sweet start to our day but that was actually more stressful. It wouldn’t take me long to be frazzled in the process. 

Adjusting my expectations has been the name of my parenting game so I came to terms with the fact that what worked for one person in the family wouldn’t work for another. Everyone has figured out their own morning success routine.

Some lay out their clothes the night before, some pick them out the morning of, some pack lunch the day before, some pack that morning, some eat a full hot breakfast, others prefer a granola bar, some wake up with extra time so they don’t have to rush, some wake in the nick of time, some are ready to talk and others need 30 minutes before saying good morning, and some go outside barefoot for a minute and a half. 

Individualized morning routines are our secret to us being as peaceful as we’re going to get on those hectic days that have us going a million different directions. Nothing that could be called well-oiled, calm, or sweet, but it works for us. 

It’s a Glorious Chaos indeed.

Why Going Outside Makes our Morning Routine Simpler

Cropped photo of three small children in bare feet omn the grass, shown from the knees downCropped photo of three small children in bare feet omn the grass, shown from the knees down

It’s been a few years now since our family doctor encouraged us to get outside barefoot for 30-90 seconds when one of our older children was struggling with being able to fall asleep at night and struggling throughout the day with fatigue and moodiness. He explained how one of the keys to better sleep was a consistent morning routine and that going outside can get the circadian rhythm back on track and boost serotonin levels. 

Since serotonin is not only a sleep regulating hormone but also mood regulating, I was ready to go all in with this plan hoping it would help. My then teen was not. 

I found it worked and when I’d skip too many mornings, my sleep began to suffer. My moods too. Rain or shine, it didn’t matter. Sunlight helps but even in the darkest months of winter I could feel the difference of getting outside in the morning. 

Then this past summer our family doctor told not one, not two, not even just three but FIVE of my children to try this when they complained of being tired and having difficulty sleeping. Go outside in the morning, he said. Reset your circadian rhythm and boost those serotonin levels by being sure to get up and be outside by a certain time every day. 

In addition to not being on a device at least 30 minutes before going to bed and not doing things like homework or reading or otherwise engaging stimulating activities in your bed, having a consistent individual morning routine that works for you can make all the difference.

This has been the pattern for a few months now and they’re still doing it. It’s working. Sleep, moods, and even getting out the door on time for school are easier. Barefoot in the grass lungs full of fresh air and circadian rhythms

The Glorious Chaos of a family of 10 in the mornings isn’t quiet or a way to ease into a day. But standing outside in the cool wet grass for a few calm seconds that keep my circadian rhythm on track reminds me that it’s our Glorious Chaos and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Drawing from a diverse background in the performing arts and midwifery Jessica Martin-Weber supports women and families, creating spaces for open dialogue. Writer, speaker and relationship and parenting coach, Jessica is the creator of TheLeakyBoob.com, co-creator of wereallhumanhere.com, freelance writer and mom. Jessica lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest and co-parents her 8 daughters with her husband of 25 years.