Mornings start one of two ways in our small urban apartment. Either the stirs and coos of our 6 month old on the monitor cue my husband and I to get the day going as early as 5:30, or we naturally wake up in those same early hours with time to reset (make the bed, shower, fold laundry) and then grab our daughter at a reasonable 7:45.
With the early wake up, we spend more time soothing and less time planning; instead of writing my to do list in a clean home, I am feeding my daughter and mentally plotting when we will find time to do it all.
My favorite part of the latter morning routine is once baby is up and fed, we pack up the stroller and head to any preferred coffee shop nearby. Homegirl loves people watching along with the rocking motion of the uneven sidewalks. It is a sacred time for both of us to get fresh air, and I especially love having a free hand to sip my coffee. In these moments, she is safely strapped in and content, and I can internally check in to think about our day ahead.
This ritual, from making the bed to strolling for coffee, has become a non-negotiable for our home. It started during the foggy newborn phase, when we did not know what day it was, when I could not put my daughter down long enough to make my own cup, and when interactions with friends were a rare treat.
Now, it sets the tone for our entire day. It determines how likely our daughter is to follow a nap schedule, and it is the only way that fateful to-do list is made in the first place. Not every day has to involve a perfectly clean home where everything gets done. A “good day” is certainly possible with an unmade bed, but the key is finding me-time as a mom. Time to reflect, to turn off the white noise, and to take care of myself first.
When our daughter was first born I certainly had no idea what it meant to take care of myself first, and at the time I heard the same concept in a variety of different phrases: “sleep when the baby sleeps,” “you cannot pour from an empty cup,” etc. It wasn’t until I tried caring for her while sleep deprived and dehydrated that I realized the value of my basic needs.
In these stressful moments I learned to take what I needed as a mom, to lean on my partner and village, and to prioritize our time – and it starts with morning walks.