In my last blog, I wrote all about how routines have been a saving grace in this first year of mothering and learning a new way of being in the world while getting to all the things that need to be done in a day. Having a thoughtful plan for the day is something I find soothing and stabilising, and knowing that it fits in with a larger system has significantly reduced the mental load of it all.
Being a naturopath and herbalist, and this being a blog about natural health, I shared with you an oh so simple way to give your health and healing the routine treatment with intentional daily, weekly and monthly rhythms. However, there are many more domains of life other than health that can greatly benefit from receiving the same type of care that indirectly affects our overall wellbeing.
For me, those other domains are tending to our home, garden and family, writing & teaching, connecting with my people: family, friends and community as well as soul time. So I thought for week’s blog it would be fun to lift the kimono of what I’ve been doing, what has been working for me at the moment and the folks I’ve been learning from. There may be some breadcrumbs worth following that may help you find a softer, saner rhythm if life has been feeling a bit overwhelming lately.
Starting Simply with the Morning-Bedtime Combo
I have found the easiest place to begin is what you do just before bed and what you do in the morning. I would even be so bold as to say, don’t even try to do more complex things until you have the simple bookends of the day sorted. They help you to set yourself up for an effective day and create the mental space to be able to tackle the rest. With these humming along, many other areas fall into place.
My Morning Routine
I wake up at 6 am, an hour before my husband and baby. I’m naturally more alert in the morning and can get far more done at this time. I start by taking my temperature (as I practice FAM) and follow it up with a big glass of warm water. I pad into the kitchen and pour myself a coffee. At the moment I add some reishi mushroom extract, which is a lovely herbal addition in late autumn/early winter. I sit next to the heater with my laptop and do 20–30 minutes of writing, either for my blog here or for my classes. If everything else in my day turns to chaos, I know that I’ve done my writing for the day.
If you’d like to geek out on working out what your natural diurnal rhythm is (fancy word for when you feel most alert during the day), you can explore the interesting world of chronobiology. There are four main “chronotypes” this is an accessible article on it.
I then have some breakfast, have my morning supplements and herbs and start a new daily log in my bullet journal, which involves knowing what’s on for the day and jotting down a to-do list that creates a little plan for the day.
I then go and wake up Massimo at 7 am and bring him back to our bed to feed him. By this time, Orlando is awake and has got his coffee, so the three of us have time to snuggle and play (which at the time of writing involves Massimo methodically going through our room to see what he can pull off the bedside tables and empty the contents of drawers that are within his reach).
Orlando will take Massimo to the breakfast table and fixes them both porridge. I gather up a load of laundry to put on. Everyone in the family has their own hamper, and a separate one for sheets and towels, so it’s just a matter of emptying the fullest looking one into the washing machine. I don’t bother sorting anymore, I just use a cold cycle. There’s a lot of laundry to do in our household as Massimo is in cloth nappies, so getting the first load on early in the day works well.
While the big and little man are still eating, I go and brush my teeth and do my skincare routine, which feels like a spa moment I greatly enjoy. In between my facial serums and moisturisers drying down, I’ll make our bed and give the bathroom a quick “Swish and Swipe” – I learned this from FlyLady and it’s so easy to keep on top of the bathrooms this way.
I keep a bottle of DIY bathroom cleaner in each of our bathrooms with some cleaning rags and a squeegee. If I didn’t have these in situ, this quick “Swish and Swipe” habit would not have stuck. In a 500ml bottle, I mix up 1/3 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon rubbing alcohol, 2 drops of peppermint oil and 3 drops of lemon oil. Then simply use it on counters, toilet and shower. Use the cleaning rags on the counter, and toilet, toilet brush for the bowl and squeegee for shower and bath. You can also use this on the mirrors – but I tend to only do this once a week. Doing this takes less than a minute and means that I no longer do bathroom cleaning sessions. Our other bathroom gets the same treatment when Massimo is taking a bath in the evening.
I then go back to the kitchen, put a full kettle on and while that’s boiling I unload the dishwasher that was put on the night before. I make up the day’s nourishing herbal infusion in my big 1.5L French press. The best herbs to do this style of infusion with are nutritive herbs such as nettle, milky oats, red clover, alfalfa or raspberry leaf. But the combinations are endless, and this is really where the kitchen witch gets to have her moment for the morning. Depending on where I am in my cycle, my energy, if Massimo has an upset stomach or teething, I’ll add a few herbs to my infusion to offer whatever extra support is.
The first load of laundry will generally be done at this point, so that gets put on the line, and a load of nappies put on. And with that all done, I’m ready for the day!
My Bedtime Routine
I like to think of the evening routine as putting the day to bed, tucking it in all nice and cosy at a decent hour, which makes the morning so much easier.
Sometimes Orlando and I will eat dinner with Massimo at 5:30, but otherwise, we’ll have it together at 7ish after he’s breastfed and asleep. Once dinner is finished, the evening routine for us adults begins. We load up the dishwasher, and while Orlando handwashes things that couldn’t go in the dishwasher, I clean up the kitchen, put the kettle on to make us relaxing teas and set the coffee pot up for the next morning.
Depending on who finishes first, one of us will take a couple of minutes to put Massi’s toys away in his play area. I’ve been following the guidance of Montessori teacher, Simone Davis, which makes this a cinch and is easy to reset during the day as well.
Once the dishwasher is humming along, I change into slippers and Orlando and I cuddle up on the couch with our herbal tea and generally watch an episode or two of something.
I’ll peel off at 9:30. I take my evening herbs and supplements, take a shower and do my evening skincare routine. To make it feel special, I do it by candlelight and pop a few drops of eucalyptus and lavender essential oil on a washcloth that I take into the shower – both of which make me feel like I’m at a spa.
By the end of the shower, I’m feeling very sleepy with my evening herbs and melatonin having kicked in, letting my body and mind know it’s time to surrender. I note in my journal what my fertile signs were for the day and write a couple of sentences in my journal. If I’m still feeling awake, I’ll read a few pages of my book. But generally, all I need is to pop on a mediation on Insight Timer, and I’m out before I know it.
Sticking With It: Make it Beautiful & Write it Down
If you’re feeling inspired to reboot your own intentional morning and evening routines, my first piece of advice is: to make sure the not-so-fun tasks are infused and balanced with some beauty. That may mean listening to something interesting or inspiring while you go about your tasks, taking a break for a delicious cup of tea, and light a stick of incense before you begin. It makes a huge difference.
And my second piece of advice is: write it down. Not only does the act of writing it down create a lovely sense of clarity, but the sense of achievement as you tick things off puts breezes in your sails…and before too long it will all start becoming second nature and happens without much thought at all.
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