My Morning Routine

Of all the questions I am asked on the regular, my daily routine is (hands down) the most frequent. And oh, how I get it. Daily routines are the structure for everything we do, every habit we establish, every ritual we keep. I believe in routines wholeheartedly, that a good one is as close as we can get to a good life.

My mornings have shifted with every season, but currently, it’s the oddest (loveliest) by far. When talking with a friend last week, I admit to the hour in which it begins – 3am – and she looks at me dead in the eyes, a wash of disgust on her face: Erin, that is not morning. That is night.

And so, whether you call it a nightly routine or a morning routine, it is mine and it is here and it is ever beloved:

Depending on when my head hits the pillow the night prior (my aim is generally 6p), the weekday alarm rings between 2 and 3 am and I pad out to the kitchen for coffee and words. (Currently, I’ve succumbed to the superfluous step of butter coffee, which means lugging the blender into the laundry room, shutting the door quietly behind me, turning on the exhaust fan and powering it on among the white noise so as to ensure the littles don’t wake up. It feels very indulgent, all this sneaking around in the dark.)

erin loechner

For the record, no, I do not believe in the Snooze button. I’m an unapologetic morning person, likely forever will be. There’s just something merciful about the hours in which you are unneeded, the hours in which the rest of the world sleeps, the hours in which you dream.

It is dark. It is quiet. It is bliss.

And so, my time begins here and ends once the kids are awake. My only rule is that I must write first, answer email second. Space is reserved for a bit of reading (Exodus, still), a bit of thinking, a whole lot of prayer. On particularly warm mornings, I refill my water and step outside to watch the sun rise over the pines.

There are mornings I am ever-excited to hop out of bed and jump-start a particular project, and there are mornings I am not. Still, the alarm, the coffee, the writing, the sunrise.

It’s the best ritual I’ve got.

Once the kids are up and at ’em, once I hear footsteps down the hallway or a screech from the monitor, the laptop is closed and books are stacked away. I grieve over small things like unfinished chapters or unmet tasks, but the feeling passes swiftly, cured in bearing witness to a glorious case of bedhead, or an outlandish dream.

Then: banana pancakes, a dash of cinnamon. Fielding questions about the lifespan of toads, setting afternoon schemes into motion.

erin loechner

I will pause here to say that Bee and I have grown into a beautiful little rhythm of planning our days together. I’ve never been one to stick to a daily planner or printed calendar for long, mostly because I couldn’t quite find the right fit. I need plenty of space and margin for the day ahead, but ample room for intentions and habits. I wanted something that encompassed every part of my routine: family, home, wellness. I wanted equal parts day planner and journal, memory keeper and visual reminder. A home to track habits, a net to catch noticings.

And so, we made it ourselves. Bee offered input, suggesting each day offer space for a particular song (yesterday: Little Red Corvette) and time spent outdoors. We added the non-negotiable habits of two chores, one hot meal (in our home, it’s fridge-foraging until dinnertime), water intake. There’s space to track the book we’re reading, the prayer we’re whispering, the dreams we’re dreaming. Room for memorization of the day – a quote, a poem, a verse.

Design for Mankind Daily Planner Journal

It’s simple and sweet and just what we need.

I’m often asked how one can train themselves to become a morning person, and I suppose the answer is that you can’t. There is a morning offered inside every new day, and it’s not necessarily the hour of the tradition. Ken has a brain that switches into overdrive no sooner than 11pm, the midnight hour a jolt of caffeine to his system. And well? I’d call that a sunrise if ever there was one.

For the rest of us, our sunrise is this: chipmunk searches, coffee runs, James & the Giant Peach on the sofa. A backyard swing, a front yard chase. Porch sweeping. High praise for a new day. (High hopes for a solid afternoon nap.)

Tell me: what’s your morning routine? I’d love to hear!

  • Naturally I am now in suspense regarding your evening routine and how you choreograph getting to bed around 6pm.
    I love an early morning before the kids wake up for peaceful time to myself. Currently my baby still wakes up once a night…the time varies if it’s earlier than 430 I usually go back to sleep but then feel awful when I get woken up for good. Maybe next time he’s up at 3 I should just stay up ♥️

    • Ha, it’s a choreograph indeed! Copy/pasting for you:

      I’ll be writing out our evening routine soon, but the short version is this: dinner around 5ish, then I pass off the kids to Ken at 6p and he wrangles bedtime. Ken and I both work from home, so we catch glimpses of each other here and there during the day, and there are also times he’s off to bed at 2 when I’m rising, so we’ll sneak a hello and quiet chat then. But truly, Ken and I are pretty independent in spirit, so it works well for us. We definitely look forward to date nights, though!

    • Also! That’s how the 2am thing began! When we first brought home Scout, he was up all hours of the night, and 2am was the natural time Ken and I would switch-out. I’d take over if he woke any time after 2, Ken would take over any time before 2. I found that I loved those quiet hours so much that I’d often want to stay up, so we just adjusted my bedtime accordingly. ;) Whatever works you know?

  • I’m a morning person too. Always have been. It’s how I’m wired. My dad was (I think bc he came from a farming community) and by default our tiny house growing up was always buzzing early.
    For me I wake at 4:12 (random, I know – bc the clock has been moved forward in cleaning or something but that’s when the alarm wakes me. Well, here is where it’s actually very weird, the clock reads 5:20. Yes it’s an hour and 8 minutes fast. I have no explanation, it just how it is)

    I get dressed and workout in the basement. Once done it is reading, praying, journaling, or quiet.
    This is the little bit of time that allows me to focus on what I need to be fed. After that, it’s all abt everyone else and that’s what I love. Balancing me and others.

    Summers awesome bc no lunches me made or kids awoken so the me-time is a relaxed pace.

    • DEFINITELY the farming community! My dad was raised on a farm, as well. And I’m absolutely nodding my head at your morning routine! Kindred spirits indeed. :) I find I’m much more apt to focus on those around me when I’m centered/filled by a quiet morning.

  • I enjoyed reading every word!!! Thank you for sharing. I am so inspired.

  • I agree with Sara how do you manage to get to bed by 6p? And how does that rythum work with Ken and his night mind. I have similar differences with my husband.

    Currently we are in the battle of trail, failing and sometimes succeeding.
    Balancing a 14 month old and one of us working full time and other full times means it’s a bit dif every day.

    • I’ll be writing out our evening routine soon, but the short version is this: dinner around 5ish, then I pass off the kids to Ken at 6p and he wrangles bedtime. Ken and I both work from home, so we catch glimpses of each other here and there during the day, and there are also times he’s off to bed at 2 when I’m rising, so we’ll sneak a hello and quiet chat then. But truly, Ken and I are pretty independent in spirit, so it works well for us. We definitely look forward to date nights, though!

  • This is fascinating to me–I am impressed by your discipline. But it also begs the question of how productive we can be if we listen to our natural rhythms. I would argue, as a teacher, why its the case for later starting schools. Regardless, as others have said, would love to hear about bedtime!

    • I so agree with you…listen to our own natural rhythms! And as a retired preschool teacher I would vote for later starts too!

    • Oh yes – I think you’re spot on — listening to our natural rhythms (whatever they are) can be so life-changing. Can’t wait to share bedtime routine soon! :)

  • I am a nurse who has a habit in life of always being punctual. I set my alarm at 445 am on the days I work, but I admit to utilizing the snooze button. Sometimes more than once. And then, surprisingly, once the circulation starts circulating, it is not altogether unpleasant and nice to have a few minutes for coffee and a few chores before heading into traffic.

    • Oh yes, I can absolutely relate! And thank you for the good and worthy work, you do, Linda. I so admire and appreciate the heart of a nurse.

  • We are retired, the kids are grown and all on their own, but I have always held to a schedule. As you said the routine changed with their ages and our jobs, one of my favorite times was when my husband left for work just before I needed to get up and he would bring me coffee…. Oh such bliss! He needs more sleep than I do so now I am to bed after him and usually up before him. I need my independent and alone time much more so than he does, so this works for us. What happens during the day is the joy of retirement, we are still really busy helping out our kids with their families and care of my mother but I love the slower pace.

    • Oh Julia, it sounds as if you’ve found a lovely rhythm for you. What a gift! (And anyone who brings me coffee is a real winner in my book!)

  • Erin, always love your words. Especially love this glimpse into your day. I, too, used to be an early morning person for awhile – and used the time before my little was awake to write, enjoy coffee outside and create. This post is calling me to get back to that daily practice. Thank you for this!

  • I love that you and your husband have found a rhythm together in routines and sleep and schedules. I am always interested in finding and redoing and figuring out the best routine, but I find that with every changing season, I must adjust. Currently I’ve been soaking in more sleep (pregnant with our fifth), and working on simplifying our life. Trying to do the not so fun stuff first, then taking in moments with the kids. My morning tea is a must and taking some time in the day for prayer and writing (or attempting to write) brings me much needed solace in my house of chaos and love.

    • I can absolutely relate. Shifting with the seasons is so important, and it sounds like you’re knee deep in one that calls for as much rest as possible (with 4 to chase!). Congrats and blessings to you, mama. :)

  • I do the same thing, and now I don’t feel like such a freak! Thank you for sharing. I think some people need time to themselves more than others. I just wanted to ask what you do with the children so you can go to bed at 6pm? Also do you find you don’t get enough time alone with your husband with this schedule? I do, so some days I wake up at 5am instead of 3am. Funny how 5am wake up now feels like i’m being lazy! 🤦‍♀️

    • Ha, I am PRECISELY the same! Ken wrangles the kids at bedtime so it’s simple for me to sneak away at 6, but yes, if I find we need extra time to connect, I’ll simply shift bedtime back a few hours. 5am does feel really late, though. ;)

  • I love this, Erin! I have a planner I’m really enjoying for myself, but I love the idea of one that my 4-year-old and I might do together, especially with summer vacation here. I’ve been aiming for mornings to myself for awhile, but now feels like truly the time. I look forward to trying this out!

  • Kind of relieved to note that I and my husband are not the only couple on the planet who are such polar opposite night owl/morning bird! Thanks for sharing; I always love to hear how someone else does it and glean tidbits to fine-tune my own rhythms!

    • Ha — love hearing I’m not alone, either! It’s definitely unusual, so we’ve fought hard to make it work. :)

  • Oh, this is such a relief to read! I thought I was the only one going to bed at 7:30 before my toddler….and getting up at 3am to commute an hour to work. Phew! The exotic life of a pastry chef. We’re up and baking so that everything’s ready for your breakfast. Wouldn’t trade it for the world, but it’s very hard some days.

    • Oh I LOVE hearing this, Helen! I never thought of the odd perils of a pastry chef schedule. 3am solidarity to you, sister! :)

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