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5 Days to a Better Morning Challenge (Day 1)


This week, we’re going to be talking about mornings. Maybe you’re in the middle of summer and the last thing you want to think about is a routine. If so, you go right ahead and skip this series, okay?

But if you’re anything like me, you’re already thinking ahead to the upcoming school year or you’re wanting to get into a better routine this summer in preparation for the upcoming school year. Our kids are going to a 4-Day Classical School this coming year, so it will be our first year of having to get lunches packed, backpacks ready, everyone dressed and out the door early in the morning four days per week.

Our kids aren’t so little any more, so they are able to be a lot more helpful and independent, but I still need to be the one to create the overall routine and make sure things run smoothly. To help our kids gear up for this (and to help our summer run more smoothly because our girls are spending a lot of time at skating and swimming practices), we decided to have a pretty strict Morning Routine as a family.

Here’s what our current Morning Routine looks like:

5:45 am — Jesse and I up and ready to workout.
6:00 amWorkout in the garage with our friend, Brian. (Read more about my workout plan here.)
6:30 am — Run in and wake the kids up (if they aren’t already up) and get them started on their morning chores and then head back to finish the workout.
7:15 am — Finish our workout. Kids are expected to be at the kitchen table completely dressed/hair fixed, with their morning chores all done. I read a chapter from our current read aloud while Jesse makes breakfast.
7:30 am — We eat breakfast while Jesse leads our family Bible Time. (Read more about our family Bible Time here.)
7:45 am — Jesse eats and oversees the kids’ Summer School workbooks/helps Silas with reading while I clean up the kitchen and take a quick shower and get ready for the day.
8:15 am — Girls make their lunches/dinners if they’ll be at swimming/skating. Bags packed for heading out the door. I make sure everything is in order for the day, do my She Reads Truth study, and be ready to start my online work at 8:45 am.

5 Days to a Better Morning

And that’s that! Here’s the thing I love about this Morning Routine: if we don’t get much else done after 9 am, we still accomplished some of the most important things — like working out and family time around the table!

{My goal is to work back to getting up at 5 am so I can read my Bible and have some quiet before the workout, but I’m not there yet. Baby steps, right? :)}

Our hope is to just tweak this a little so we can have almost the same time blocks and then just head out the door at 7:45 a.m. for school (gratefully, they don’t have to be at school until 8 a.m. and it’s close to our house!)

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Plan!

If you read our routine and felt overwhelmed, please remember this: My husband and I are both home full-time and both share in the household/kid responsibilities. I know that this makes things so much easier for me and allows me to have a lot more flexibility in my schedule than many of you have.

In addition, as I mentioned above, our kids are at a stage where they are much more independent than they used to be. Plus, our business is at the place where I have a great team in place and I don’t have to get on and check social media or emails until later in the morning.

And finally, we’ve been fine-tuning routines for a long time. This is not something new to us. Practice doesn’t make it perfect (trust me on that!), but it does make it easier. 

Here are some examples of previous routines — to give you an idea of how things have changed for us over the years:

5 Days to a Better Morning

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating a Routine

If you don’t already have a great morning routine and you’d like to develop one, I want to challenge you to ask yourself three questions:

A. What is a realistic start time? What time can you realistically commit to getting out of bed in the morning? Please remember this is not the time you would ideally love to get up in the morning. Or the time you think sounds impressive. Or the time your Type A, super organized friend gets up in the morning. 🙂

I want you to think through what is actually feasible for you right now in this season of your life. Make sure it will allow you to get enough sleep. Trying to operate well while exhausted is like trying to run your car on fumes. You just aren’t going to get very far without being stalled on the side of the road.

Note: Maybe you don’t even want to choose a realistic start time and instead choose to start your routine when you wake up — whenever that is. I think this is an especially good option if you have a baby and/or a toddler who is waking up in the night and you’re in a season of life where you don’t have to be out the door at a certain time each morning.

B. When do you need to be out the door? What time does everyone need to be dressed, ready for the day, bags, packed, lunches packed, and in the car? This will help you determine what a realistic start time is and what you can realistically accomplish during the hour or hours you have from the time you get up to the time you need to be out the door.

If you don’t have to be out the door by a certain time, then ask yourself what time would you like to have accomplished your morning routine? Would you love to be ready to walk out the door if a friend called you for a play date or to easily be able to run an errand mid-morning because you are dressed, look presentable, and your ducks are in a pretty good row? That time could be 9 a.m. (like us) or noon or whatever time you decide! This challenge is not about following a formula, but about figuring out what works best for you and your family in your current season of life.

C. What are your Big Rocks? What would you really, really love to have done first thing in the morning? What few things would set your day up for success? What are those tasks or to-do’s or projects that you always hope to get to but that often get pushed to the back burner because you spend so much of your day putting out fires?

For my husband and me, working out and family time around the table are two big priorities. By making them something that happens very early in the day, we not only start our day off on a great foot, but we also ensure that they actually happen! It feels SO good to have accomplished these very important things right off the bat in our day!

My Top Favorite Time Management Books

Day 1 Project

1. Decide that you’re going to participate in this challenge. Committing to something is the first step to success! Leave a comment letting us know that you’re committed to joining me on this 5-day journey to a better morning this week.

2. Determine your answers to the three questions above. Write these out or type them out or leave a comment on this post answering them. We’ll use these as a guide for setting up a Realistic Routine tomorrow.

3. Tell someone offline that you’re participating in this challenge. In addition to leaving a comment on this post, I encourage you to text, call, or personally tell a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker about this challenge and that you are committing to it this week. The more accountability you set up from the get-go, the more apt you are to actually follow through on what you’re committing to!

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  • JP says:

    I”m in. Here are our big rocks:
    Daily Txt, Workout, Breakfast together
    Out the door by 7:15
    I need to be up by 6:00 pm to get in the wod, cook breakfast.
    (I can cook muffins (egg) for the week or breakfast soup so breakfast is quick and easy).
    I’ll pick out the workouts on Sundays for the week.
    I”m excited.
    Thank you for the challenge

  • KS says:

    Sounds like a good morning schedule:) I need to work on getting one down for us!!

    What is a classical school? Never heard of it before…

    • Here’s more information on Classical Education: The school they are enrolled in is a small school that follows this model of education and is very much in line with our educational beliefs and philosophies. We’re really excited about it and think it’s going to be a GREAT fit for our kids this next year.

      • KS says:

        So neat- I bet your kids will love it!

      • Melissa says:

        Just curious what made you decide to send them to school? The school sounds like a great opportunity and a good fit. I’m just curious because I thought you’d said before that both you and Jesse were homeschooled? Thanks!

        • Mary Jo says:

          I’m curious about this too! What made you decide to make the switch?

          • Jesse and I both independently began feeling God leading us to make a change earlier this year and when we both talked about it together, we couldn’t believe we were both feeling the same way! We are so excited to have found this school as it’s very unique and perfectly aligns with our educational beliefs and philosophies and we think it’s going to be a really, really great fit for our family and our kids this coming year.

  • Lynn says:

    What is a classical school? ?

    • Here’s more information on Classical Education: The school they are enrolled in is a small school that follows this model of education and is very much in line with our educational beliefs and philosophies. We’re really excited about it and think it’s going to be a GREAT fit for our kids this next year.

      • Jessica says:

        Crystal, is this a hybrid homeschool where they will complete their schoolwork at home on Fridays? We attend a similar classical hybrid (Regina Caeli Academy) and I’m there with the kids two days a week, and home the other three . . . it’s a wonderful experience and a true blessing of a resource!

        God bless you and your family on this new journey!

        • It’s a full-time school, but they only go to school 4 days per week as Mondays are at-home days in order to encourage families to have a Sabbath. The kids have extra projects and at-home homework on those days. The school does offer a separate hybrid program similar to what you’re referring to and I know a few families involved in similar programs and we’ve heard great things about them!

  • PantsuitsMom says:

    I’ve just had Baby #2 two weeks ago (ah it’s going too fast) but I want to make over mornings a little (with some grace!) because I am having to nag and nag and rush my 4 yo – he needs more time to get ready so I’ll be getting up a little earlier so I can get him up earlier. Must-dos before taking 4yo to preschool is feed the baby ?, feed 4yo, feed dogs, pump, and coffee! and I’d like to leave the house by 8am.

  • Christina says:

    Yes, I am so in!!! This comes at the perfect time for me. I am desperately in need of a morning routine to help get me prepared for school in August. My biggest rock is getting up to get in a workout and have my me time. I need to be up by 5:30am to have enough time to not be rushed. Thank you for the motivation!!!!

  • Nicole says:

    Thank you for this! Your encouragement has made over my morning and evening routines. It’s simple but makes SOOO much of a difference.

    My big rocks are: quiet time, exercise, and getting fully dressed (since I work from home). I need to be up by 5 to have this done before the craziness of the day starts, but since I don’t have children, this isn’t impossible, it just takes discipline. Yay I learn so much from you!

  • Brandette W. says:

    Great post, Crystal! I would LOVE to hear more in a post about your decision and thinking process in starting your kids at a traditional school instead of continuing the home schooling.

    Our son started K this last school year, so this is our first official summer off of school. I have tried to keep our sleep schedule close to the way it was during school, but with a bit of a relaxed mode thrown in since it is summer after all. We haven’t been fool proof at it of course, there have been a few days where we slept in a bit later then a school day (sickness, late work night, etc.) But, overall I think it is going pretty good.

    I commend you guys on such an early start. That is amazing! My son and I are not early risers, so getting up that early is a no-go here. 🙂

  • Libby says:

    I’m in! <3

  • This is perfect! I am working on an e-book right now and really need to give myself a good hour of writing each morning. I would like to be up, have kids ready, and be out the door by 7. Then I can drop them off at daycare and have an hour to write in my classroom at school (I’m a teacher) before I start Summer School each day. Thanks for the motivation!

  • Kristy MeYeR says:

    Hi Crystal and other friends!
    I am Kristy, otherwise known as Mama K or Mama to the Man Crew. I am so joining this challenge. I’ve been slacking lately on my morning routine and well, it’s time to get myself back in order.
    -Realistic wake up time: Already getting up at 4:15 to pack hubby a lunch and send him off with a kiss and a wave, so it’s more a matter of staying up at that time instead of sneaking back to bed until 6:30.
    -Out the door by 7:30 every morning for my job as a nanny, with my 10year old son, homeschooling supplies, swim gear and water bottle in tow. (Also need to have dinner at least planned and thawing, or in the crock pot as well)
    -Big rocks: Quiet time, a workout, starting laundry, a healthy breakfast and a board game with my youngest, plus a quick 10 minute tidy up before leaving home.

    I will text my accountability partner that I am participating in this challenge. Perhaps she will join us.

    Thanks for this Crystal! I Neeeeeeeeeeeed order and routine in my life, but the last year has been difficult to achieve that and somewhere along the way, I quit trying. (Quick overview of the last 18 months of our life: buy a home, move in while my mother and an adult nephew are living with us. Nephew moves out, Mom moves out, second son turns 18 and moves out, hubby works out of state for 7 months and is only able to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas, all while I’m working 40-55 hours a week, homeschooling 2 boys and trying to keep the wheels on) Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly blessed and I know it, but some years are just all uphill, ya know? I’m actually quite envious of your Year of Rest and wish I could join you for that too. 😉
    Kristy Meyer

  • Kristy MeYeR says:

    Sorry for the novel. Apparently, I’m feeling extra chatty tonght. Oops. 😉

  • Samantha says:

    I’d love to join you in this challenge. M big rocks are exercise, my Bible Study (I’m doing Philippians: To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler on my RightNow Media app), and writing in my prayer journal.

    I need to get my son to camp by 8:30 this week so I need to be up by 5:45. That sounds like a lot of time, but we have 6 kids who wake up at varying times and need varying levels of help in the morning. In other words, I am often interrupted but try to leave enough time so I can not stress out if I hear the pitter patter of little feet coming downstairs in the morning.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Crystal”

  • Julie C says:

    What time is lights out?l

  • Amy says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I know this post isn’t about deciding to send your kids to school…. and I know it’s not my business or anyone else’s to have an opinion on it.
    BUT I was just so pleased to read it.
    I’m sure you’ll always be thankful for homeschooling up until this point it and it seems like you’ve done an AMAZING job.

    I think it’s a good example to people not to be religious/ law based about what they choose but rather seeking God and making choices based on individual circumstances/ different seasons. I think we need to be open minded about some things in life so we don’t lock up people around us to OUR law.
    Again, sorry I know this post isn’t about that but just wanted to say that it was really encouraging to read that.

    • Thanks so much for your kind encouragement! This is part of me practicing what I preach to encourage families to, “Do what is best for you and your family at the season of life you are in!”

  • Jennifer says:

    Beginning my day earlier is something I have been intending to work on. My big rocks are intentional Bible and prayer time, exercising, and working on my blog first thing in the mornings. I am a single mom, so if I don’t complete those tasks in the morning they either 1) Don’t get done or 2) Spill over into my time with my daughter. I just purchased The 5 am Miracle a couple days ago. I am thoroughly enjoying it. I can’t wait to get started.

  • Christine says:

    How did your kids react when you told them they were going to a private school full time?

    • It’s a decision we started talking with them about very early on in the decision-making process and we’ve had lots of good discussions about it along the way. They’ve already been in for testing and to visit the school a few times, so they are feeling more and more excited about it.

  • More power to you all! I’d love to hear/see more from people “making over their mornings” with TEENAGERS. We have two in the house now, and that means later bedtimes — for everyone. (We don’t allow our girls too many hours of unsupervised screen/phone time…) Hard to make a super-early bedtime when bedtime is by necessity pushed to 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. (or midnight…). Just shift the times, right? Not so easy for sleepy Mom, though!

  • K. Ann Guinn says:

    OK, I’m in, too. I shut my computer off last night without committing, as it was late and I was tired. But I’ve been meaning to work on my morning routine; in fact, I have worked at it a bit, but not fully committed. I’ve been in transition these past couple of years with out-of-the-home work, so I have some days off (hallelujah!), and started my blog at the beginning of this year. I am realizing how much I NEED to be more disciplined with my at-home time, esp. mornings!

    My start time will vary, esp. in the summer, but the key is I need to actually START when I get up; not get distracted running all over the house doing everything. Getting out the door will vary, but is fortunately not too early most days (or I’ll be home for the day).

    As for the big rocks, my quiet/devotional time needs to be strengthened/focused, I really like to exercise before I leave for work or other commitments, if possible, and a decent breakfast (after either warm lemon water and/or apple cider vinegar drink to start). I’ll just start with those priorities for now.

    Oh, and I’ve started your Make Over Your Mornings Course months ago…..but never finished, so perhaps this will provide the jump-start I need. Thanks for the challenge!

    • Danielle says:

      I am curious about what summer school workbooks you are using and if you ever wrote a post regarding chores systems for your kids. Thanks!

  • Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I love the schedule and I bet you are doing great working out! I quit going to crossfit and I miss it so much. I want to workout at home, but get so distracted. Also, my son is going back into school this year. My husband and I both feel this is a great fit for him. We are in a small town and there are no classical schools here or we would send him! There is a great one in VA were we used to live. Well, again thanks for sharing. It sounds like it is going to be a wonderful school year!!!

  • Allison says:

    I think you will find you will need to be ready earlier than 7:45 if school starts at 8:00. You could easily spend 15 minutes in the dropoff line, nevemind loading up the car and travel time. Students are usually expected to be in their classrooms at start time, not pulling into the parking lot or just walking in the front door. Otherwise, the school counts them tardy, and too many tardies usually results in disciplinary consequences. My kids’ school starts at 8:05, and it’s just a 12 minute drive, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving the house any later than 7:35.

    • Yes, that might be the case! We’ll see! It’s just a few minutes away and a really small school, so it’s different than a school that has a long dropoff line, but our plan is to bump things back to 7:30 if leaving at 7:45 doesn’t allow the kids to be walking into school at 7:50ish.

  • Heather says:

    I’m going to! We had gotten into a pretty good routine during the school year. My oldest was in a mom’s day out program. But we are switching to a new preschool this year and she will be in afternoon school. I don’t want 3 days worth of lost mornings just waiting for school to start.

    And my youngest will be in the same preschool the following year. But 3 year old preschool is in the mornings on the opposite days of 4yo preschool. So our schedule is going to be weird for a year. We need to have a working routine in place to be successful.

  • Melissa says:

    Time to get some sanity into my summer! I plan to get up at 7. Big rocks: Read Bible and go for a walk, and devotions for kids.

  • Amber Lopez says:

    I so need this right now! I did Make Over Your Evenings and it was great! But I’m struggling with my mornings still. I need to get it together! Thinking I need to do the MOYM course soon! That’s for posting this!

  • Sally says:

    Im in!I feel the same! About getting a strong routine going…we homeschool and I will be adding to that my work at home writing for my blog I’m starting for excitedly (^; I am anxious because I don’t want to disappoint myself with ideals that are too high to achieve my hubby works 9-9 and I have a limited help at home. I think I should set 5:45 for a wake time for now although I’d like it to be 5 by Sept and get my study/ prayer time in and a 30-45 min workout ( i used to do the garage and i think you’ve inpired me to go back to that…turning around the 40 corner has really made me want to get back in great health and shape) in first then add family reading soon after. I may have to be willing to carry it all and let the hubby pop in when he can although I wish that wasn’t the case he is just exhausted and sleeps later than me. I need to be able to start on our day at 9 spending the morning w kids and house clearing and working around noon to 2. I would love your prayers for this area of my life. Thanks for the inspiration via instagram!!!

  • Tina M says:

    I am starting a day late, but I really need this right now. I am a teacher so in the summer I don’t have to be out the door at a specific time like I do during the school year. I am not so good with the lack of structure during the summer. I don’t seem to get much accomplished. My kids are older 14 & 16 so I have even more time since my son is driving now.

    Right off the top of my head my big rocks would be:
    1. Reading my Bible (I struggle with doing this daily, any tips appreciated)
    2. Workout
    3. Eat a healthy breakfast

  • I’m so down! My biggest rocks are time in the Word first and breakfast. It is so easy for me to work and put off breakfast, and then I’m an hour away from lunch. I feed my kids, but not myself. Not a good habit, and one I don’t want them modeling. Also time in the Word to start our day would be such an encouragement!

  • Staci Brown says:

    Our children attend a classical Christian school in Topeka, KS (Cair Paravel Latin School). We love the classical school model for learning.

  • Amanda E says:

    I am in!
    Being up by 520/530 is reasonable.
    We all need to be in the van by 650.
    Workout, packing lunches and devotional are our big rocks.

  • Ellen says:

    This is great! 4 days a week my husband leaves for work at 4am so I am on my own for the mornings with the two kids (3 years old and almost 2 years old) – so I already have a bit of a routine – but it could be finessed and more precise.

    On the school days it is easier to have a routine and get out the door than on weekends – so I think I need to just have a uniform routine across the 4 day period. Would like to make sure that it includes a shower for me and opening the house and making the beds.

    Looking forward to the other days!

  • KMS says:

    I’m great at MAKING a routine but not so great at carrying it out or getting everyone on board with me. The hardest part for me is getti g the kids up, ages 17, 15, 12, and 3. Any suggestions to motivate them or consequences for not getting up? We home school too, so school start time is not a motivator.

  • Christy says:

    The Bible study ebook won’t download for me. Looking forward to this challenge

  • Jaime Reed says:

    Oh, I am so in! I’ve been working slowly toward a better routine, but it’s loads more fun when there are people along for the ride. 🙂

    I am a dyed-in-the-wool night owl since birth (just ask my poor mother), so I have an ideal get up time of 7:30 which still seems way too early, but I’m committed. My big rocks are quiet time, exercise, and good nutrition during this stage of life. I don’t have a set time to be out the door, but 9:30 is a good time to aim for being dressed to “shoes, hair, and face” as Flylady would say.

    What’s funny is that my children have a summer routine posted right on the fridge door that they’ve been following, but I’ve really neglected to make one for ME!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this challenge, perfect timing!
    My times are 6:30 wake up; 9 am ready!

    My big rocks are working out, prayer and breakfast with family

  • Kristina says:

    Alright, I will say 8-8:30 a.m. start time due to swimming lessons for the older one. We need to leave by 9:10 a.m. to be there on time (granted this is the last week). My big rocks are: eat breakfast, Bible study and shower (which sometimes happens after class). We are not an early morning family here.

  • I am going to commit to joining you in this challenge (even though I’m starting a day late) because for the first time in 21 years I have to be somewhere 4 days a week.
    My oldest son started college on Monday (we have homeschooled since birth) and while his first class is not until 2:00 p.m. I have so many things I need to accomplish before we leave that I need to start EARLY!
    Because we have homeschooled and I have been so very blessed to be a stay-at-home wife and mother for over 20 years I have not had to worry very much about a morning routine. As long as the kids were fed and ready to start school by 8 the other things (laundry, dishes, cleaning) could be done throughout the day at my own pace.
    Now that I find myself out of the house from 12:45 p.m. until just after 5:00 p.m. I am in desperate need of a routine that will allow me to accomplish MOST (if not all) of my daily chores before I leave the house.

  • Dionne says:

    I know that making a decision to do something different for schooling is a big one and I pray that people give you grace and understanding that you are doing what you feel is best for your children and your family. Unfortunately homeschoolers can be harsh that you aren’t homeschooling anymore. I certainly felt that when we decided to quit homeschooling nearly a decade ago. Even after having three successful graduates from high school, I still feel the hurt of those comments from people who couldn’t imagine why this was best for our family. Remember that you and Jesse answer to God, not to man in this decision and that you know your children best.

  • Rocio says:

    Ok, I’m in. I have used school morning schedules before and love how I can get out of the house on time. My start time is 5 am and out the door is 7am. What I didn’t have was my big rocks. I totally love this because I can just see how having my big rocks is a great motivator to get up in the mornings. For me, it would be exercising, eating together healthy meals. I’m planning on sharing this with my sister. Maybe she’ll join, too!

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