I think the most common issue moms share is sleep deprivation. Personally, before having children, I assumed severe lack of sleep was limited to the early infant months. Little did I know just how long the broken sleep stage lasts while raising kids.

Between middle-of-the-night spooks, bed wetting, bathroom trips and sick days, most mamas are not clocking in anywhere close to the 8-10 recommended sleep hours.

I began to feel that familiar struggle between what I call “my ideal and my real.” My ideal was to both be well rested and have an intentional morning routine—and if possible, one that begins on my own terms, preferably before the kids wake up.

My real was chronic nights of sub-par and broken sleep, plus a complete abandonment of attempting any morning routine at all.

This is where I needed a strong dose of my own medicine. I believe that as moms, we need to kick ideal out the window and come to terms with the life we are living, instead of waiting for the perfect conditions to exist.

I fell into the old, familiar all-or-nothing trap for a long time. Since I was already sleep-deprived, I put off creating a morning routine that would set a cadence for my day in a way that I wanted.

And as it often happens—while I was teaching clients, a light bulb went off in my own life.  While it may not be the most perfect scenario, I could still create an effective morning routine with my kids awake and around me.

I started exploring different ways to bring calm, clarity, and joy to my mornings. Here’s 11 things you can play around with in your morning hours, with or without kids underfoot.

1. Breathing

Simple deep breathing practices can literally take one minute, and will shift your whole biochemistry into a calm, alert state.

2. Prayer

No doubt about it, if I don’t have enough quiet, solitary time in prayer, I start to crave it—but there are many types of conversations I have with God through the day, even when noise and action surround me. Staying in the presence of God during our busy times is just as important as during our quiet times.

The Practice of the Presence of God, a collection of letters by Brother Lawrence from the 17th century shares heartfelt, soul-stirring thoughts about what it means to pray while stirring soup. Relatable.

3. Music

There’s hardly anything that can lift your spirits as effectively as music. Make a playlist of your favorites and include some music time in your morning hours. Tsh has great playlists on Spotify.

4. Healthy energy flow practices

We are energy beings at the core (not to get too quantum physics on you), and when your energy is high and vibrant, your whole day follows suit. Energy techniques work under philosophies similar to acupuncture and reflexology, which keep a healthy flow of energy running through your body. Here’s a quick stress-reducing technique video I created.

5. Nourishing breakfast

When you wake up, a healthy hormone system will cause a rise in cortisol (the stress hormone) to get you moving and grooving. Once you’re going, it’s important to help your body shift out of a stress metabolism and into a calm metabolism—and a robust, nourishing breakfast is a critical way to do that.

6. Read inspirational quotes or Scripture

Set your mental focus at the start of the day by filling your mind with inspiring words, Scripture, or meaningful quotes.

7.  Essential oils

Work to engage all your senses for a calm, clear, and energized start. Use essential oils from the citrus or mint families, and either diffuse them through the air or rub them in the palm of your hands. Take in a few calming deep breaths.

Here’s our favorite source for reasonably-priced essential oils.

8. A luxurious face-washing routine

Small acts of pampering can go a long way—create a simple morning routine to clean and moisturize your face with a bit extra care. My favorite is my homemade natural baking soda + coconut oil + essential oil scrub, which leaves me refreshed for very little cost and time.

9. Simple stretches or stress-reducing yoga

If you don’t have time for major exercise or activity, you can still benefit from moving your body and stretching stiff or sore areas. Here is a great short video by a friend and colleague of mine, Dr Sara Gottfried, for a quick stress-reducing yoga posture. I regularly get my kids to join me on this one when we could all use a cool down.

10.  Rambling pages or journaling

Journaling is one of my favorite morning activities. This is such a fantastic way to get all your chaotic swirling thoughts out of your head, onto paper, and to open up space for processing and clearer thinking. (Try out morning pages.)

11. Family prayer of thanks before breakfast

It’s powerful to set the day’s tone together—one of my favorite things to do before a meal blessing is to hold hands and take a family breath together. You’d be amazed at the energy difference this one act makes.

No one needs to do all eleven of these things to have an effective morning routine, but these ideas can get you started. They’re easy to implement, even when the house is bustling and you have very little time.

Tomorrow morning, try one or two that resonates with you—see how it feels.

p.s. One of the seven basics in Tsh’s class The Essentials is—guess what? Create a simple morning routine.