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Two Questions You Need to Ask If You Want to Make the Most of Your Life

Make the Most of Your Mornings

I am a part-time (2 nights/week) RN, and a full time wife & mommy! :) On my days off, I attempt to live a “normal day shift” life. Any tips to get the most out of my mornings? -Andrea

This is such a great question, Andrea! And I think that my answer will be one that can apply to anyone who is wanting to make the most of their mornings.

As you consider and work on being intentional with your mornings, I encourage you to ask yourself two questions:

1. What do I need to do?

Think about what you must do in the morning. Or what you really should do. :)

Things like cleaning up, pulling something out of the freezer for dinner, organizing, laundry, bill-paying, phone calls, and errands.

Also, consider what you need to do to stay refreshed and energized. You might feel like this is not truly a need. But I believe it is.

Why? Because if you just keeping going, going, going and never stop to refuel your personal “tank”, you’ll soon be running on empty. And you can continue to try to press forward and live on fumes, but you’ll soon find that you are completely drained and lifeless.

So yes, it is a need to make time to refresh yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s something that needs to be high on the priority list.

Making time to recharge your batteries will make you more productive, more efficient, and more energetic. This, in turn, will cause you to be a better wife, mom, and employee. Plus, you’ll just enjoy life more.

Take some time to think through what energizes you. Maybe that’s taking a nap, reading, savoring quiet and a cup of coffee, decorating, crafting, cooking, spending time with friends, exercising, gardening… find at least a few things to include on your days off that will refuel your tank.

Practically Speaking

Once you’ve determined what you need to do every morning, create a morning routine based upon these things. For more help in creating a morning routine, check out this post on How to Develop a Morning Routine. I’d include 5-7 items on your morning routine list and make them a mix of things you must do and things that will refuel your tank.

Commit to following through with this morning routine every single “off-day” morning for the next three weeks. Ask a friend or two to help you stay accountable so that you stick with this commitment.

How to make the most of your mornings

2. What do I want to do?

Once you’ve determined what you need to do and create your morning routine based upon this, then comes the much more fun part. Ask yourself: what do I want to do?

Take a pen and paper and start writing down anything that comes to your mind in answer to this question: re-decorating your living room, learning how to blog, investing in your elderly neighbor, taking a wood-working class, learning a foreign language, teaching a skill to your child, trying out a new grocery store. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down.

Then, take this long list and pick your top five priorities off the list. The top five most pressing things you want to tackle first or those that will make the greatest impact on your life. If five sounds overwhelming or like too much, start with 2-3.

Look at your list of these few priorities and think how can I make a little slow and steady progress each week to help me get where I want to be next year?

Start mapping out what this looks like for the next few weeks. For instance, if you want to learn a foreign language, find a 30-minute block on your off mornings that you can focus on taking an online foreign language course. Or if you want to teach your toddler a new skill, set aside 15 minutes early in the morning once your morning routine is done and they are up and dressed to work on this skill.

It’s amazing how 15 or 30 minutes of focused effort a few times per week can really start to add up to progress on our goals!

I encourage to work on your list of priorities right after you finish your morning routine. If you don’t do it first thing, there’s a good chance it won’t get done. In addition, it will make you feel fulfilled and more productive the rest of the day. So just do it!

Practically Speaking

You might find it helpful to assign themes to the days you’re off work. Maybe one day is your errands day, one day is your baking/cooking day, and one day is your extra projects day.

I also encourage you to try to have at least one day where you stay at home all day. For me, at least, there’s something very refreshing about a quiet day at home. And not only that, but I find that it helps me to be more productive if I have at least one day where I’m not running around doing different things but instead can focus on projects at home.

What advice and suggestions do the rest of you have for Andrea? Share them in the comments!

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  1. says

    These are great tips! I just want to add to consider what “morning” means to you. I used to work night shift and even before having kids it was really hard on my body to adjust from a complete schedule flop every single week. Maybe try to do a few things (laundry, bills, bible study, possibly even showering) in the evenings before you go to sleep so you can sleep in most mornings without feeling like you’re starting out your day behind. Maybe you’ll feel good sleeping from 2:00am – 10:00am instead of getting up super early. Doing so may actually help make you more productive overall since your body won’t be doing a 100% flip every single week. Kudos to you for being willing to work a tough schedule!

  2. says

    My husband worked night shift for 20 years. He always wanted his “off” days to be a normal cycle for his family. It was tough, but you can do it! I love Crystal’s advice on creating a daily morning routine, because it works, even if you only do it on certain days of the week.

  3. Meredith M says

    I’ve got to get up before my kids. We’re all so much better off if I do.
    One thing I want to do, well, maybe need to do, is get better at cooking. It is such an area I struggle with. Are you going to post menu plans again? Help!:)

  4. says

    I work the night shift 20 hours a week as well. I have been doing this for 10 years, and homeschool my 5 kids during the week. For me, what I have learned mostly during this time is that I have to give myself grace. I read blogs that recommend getting up early and starting the day before your kids do. That does not work for me, and just makes me into a crabby mom. It is too severe of a flip for me. Instead I stay up a little later, and sleep until my kids get up (7:30 or 8:00). Night shift takes a toll on your body anyway, and it is important to do what you can to not always be chronically tired. My “me” time comes at night, and that is ok for me.

  5. Clare says

    Make a list before you go to bed of what you want to do when you get up. Sometimes just having a plan helps me get the ball rolling in the morning when I am prone to feeling like I have 400 things to do, and then throwing in the towel and doing nothing! I work odd shifts too and find a 20 minute nap after lunch does wonders for a sleep deprived mama. Sometimes I just doze while the kids watch curious George or something.

    • Chris says

      I also work 2 days per week until 10 p.m. and find it hard to unwind in the evening/night on those days which in turn does not help me at all to get up early the next day 😉 Personally, I can also recommend to sleep in, if you can. If you cannot do that, try taking a short nap of 30 minutes around noon or in the afternoon to recharge your batteries.

  6. says

    I worked night shift for years as an RN, too. I recently came home full time, but haven’t forgotten how hard that was on my mind and body.

    I would echo some of the previous comments about giving yourself LOTS of grace, not comparing yourself to others who don’t work, or who work day shift, and not trying to make mornings the most productive time of day. People who haven’t worked night shift can tell you all day long to rise early, but as a nurse, you and I know that working night shift adjusts your circadian rhythm and you can’t just change that from one day to the next.

    When I worked nights, I slept in and then would even snooze on the couch with my kids for morning cartoons – please don’t feel guilty about that! You are helping to provide for your family, so give yourself permission to get a late start to the day. A happy and well-rested mom is better than a mom who’s up early before her kids, in my opinion.

    I also like the idea of themed days – such as laundry, shopping, cleaning, etc. That has helped me feel like I had somewhat of a routine even when my RN shifts weren’t regular.

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