I’m always intrigued by glimpses into the mornings of others, and a favorite blogger of mine, Megan Stokes, recently shared her morning routine. Like Megan, I envy those who rise early, as I imagine capturing even 30 minutes of quiet by myself would ground and center me. But that is not me (or Megan), at least not now. During this season of life, Mr. Magpie and I take turns waking up with the children while the other “sleeps in” for an extra 30 minutes. Mini unfailingly sprints into our room at 6:50 on the dot, when her “OK to wake clock” lets her know it is OK to start the day. We frankly have no idea what time she actually wakes. There was one morning I caught a splinter of light from her bedroom at 4:34 a.m. She was awake, playing, ready for the day (!). I attempted to put her back in bed, but she resisted. Needless to say, she put herself to bed early that night. I believe she now typically wakes closer to 6:30 on her own, and will quietly play with stickers or her Lego sets until “Mella” turns green and she comes trotting to my bedside to wake me. Most mornings, she begs me to play with her, which I usually oblige, still half-asleep and barely capable of conversation let alone imaginative play. But I try. I try to wait until micro is stirring before going into him, but sometimes mini will barrel in, high-octane style. He is usually up by around 7 anyhow, and it’s the same routine every morning: turn off the sleep machine, raise the blinds, change his diaper, and watch the two of them gaze out the window at the neighbor’s front door in order to let me know whether Freya the dog is in view. There were a string of days just after we moved in where one of Freya’s balls had been placed on a newel post of the neighbors’ deck, and it was the subject of much curiosity. How did it get there, Mama? Does Freya want it? Nearly every morning since it disappeared from the post, micro has pointed and said, with some disappointment, “ball, all gone.” I wonder how long this game will persist. It is typically my first interaction with him in the morning and it feels in some way metaphysical, conjuring faint memories of thinking about Aristotle and Sisyphus back in college.
At this point, we descend to the kitchen and I prepare the children’s breakfast while they play in the family room. They have been on a major Duplo streak and are usually preoccupied with them while I make breakfast, which is usually peanut butter on waffles, oatmeal, Puffins cereal and milk, or peanut butter toast with bananas sliced on top, plus always fresh fruit and yogurt. We recently realized how much sugar is in most brands of yogurt and now mini is decidedly less interested in it. Micro still loves it though — we give him Siggis or plain Fage mixed with a little jam, which still has far less sugar in it than premixed flavors.
At some point, I ask Siri to read me the news and forecast so I have the gist of the day and can listen while I am bustling around the kitchen. Once the children are settled in front of their breakfasts, I take their temperatures and text mini’s to her school and then tie mini’s hair back and apply her eyepatch. Then I empty the dishwasher and pack mini’s lunch. Nearly every morning, I ask myself why I do not do this the night before. Mini is a very picky eater at the moment. I try to present her with a different lunch each day of the week, because if she had her druthers, it would be peanut butter and jelly every day of the week and twice on Tuesday. Menu options she will actually eat are limited. The only fail-proofs are: a bagel or cinnamon raisin bread with cream cheese, buttered noodles and meatballs, a croissant or crackers with provolone and salami on the side (yes, salami — she is ultra-picky but loves salami!?), PBJ (we use sunbutter instead of PB for school allergy reasons), or pizza (luckily, she likes cauliflower crust pizza, which makes me feel better). Sigh. Hoping we emerge from this season of pickiness soon. One strong plus is that she loves fruit and many vegetables, too, so we at least get quite a bit of that into her lunch box every week.
Once mini’s lunch and snack are packed (for snack, it’s usually some combination of apple, raisins, cheese and crackers, freeze-dried fruit, orange slices, grapes, crackers with sunbutter on them), I prepare breakfast for Mr. Magpie and myself, which — for the last few weeks — has been exclusively whole milk yogurt topped with Michele’s granola, berries from our garden (Mr. Magpie presents me with a palmful every morning), and a drizzle of honey. But we’ve gone through other stretches of loving acai bowls, English muffins with zaatar, and oatmeal with all the toppings, so I’m sure once the raspberry harvest has dried up, we’ll be on to something else.
At this point, Mr. Magpie is down and we’re catching up. He almost always has something on his mind — a funny text, a news article, a reminder about the day — and we chat about it in fits and starts as we work through our routines. He usually tends to his garden and walks Tilly in between bites of yogurt.
Once I’ve prepared breakfast for Mr. Magpie and myself, I read through reader comments, emails, and direct messages, and post something to Instagram about whatever I’ve written for the day. Then I participate in my daily digital prayer circle with my mom and sister and try to read a page out of my devotional. It doesn’t always happen in the morning, but when it does, it feels spectacular. If I’m too rushed or distracted, though, which does occasionally happen in the morning chaos, I will postpone prayer until later in the day, when I can properly focus.
After, I run up to collect the children’s outfits for the day and bring them down to the family room. Mini is in a phase where she will often dress herself first thing in the morning. I encourage and support this, but there are sometimes modifications that must be made depending on weather and…the fact that she has these two graphic tees she loves that I will not let her wear to school. (I have stocked up on cute alternatives for her, though!). I will either help her dress or modify her outfit and then properly tie her hair back for the day, usually in two pigtails or a low ponytail and always finished with a bow (we love Wee Ones) and this hair spray. She has very fine hair and for the longest time it was always slipping into her eyes. This spray helps, and smells great too. After she’s fully outfitted, I turn my attention to micro, but that often happens after mini’s left for school with her father, at 8:15. We wave them off and then I have 45 minutes with my boy. I get him dressed and then most mornings try to complete an activity with him — something simple like a puzzle, a matching game, a sensory bin, duplos, a few books — before I go up to get dressed. He is usually on my heels and enjoys putzing around in my makeup drawers but sometimes he will play quietly in his room with his dinosaurs or puzzles while I’m getting myself ready. My skincare routine is irritatingly long at this point. I splash with water, cleanse with this oil, and then apply, in this exact order: a hyaluronic toning mist, Clarins eye serum, Biossance Vitamin C rose oil, Clarins double serum, and SPF. My skin is always glowing and glistening but it does feel like a lot of steps. I then apply my everyday makeup and get dressed. I have to say one of the small but meaningful luxuries in our new house is heated floors in the master bath. Heavenly! I pinch myself nearly every morning I set foot in there. Once I’m outfitted, I spritz on perfume (I recently started using this Diptyque scent and I could not love it more), put on my pearl earrings (I sleep in the rest of my everyday jewelry), and I’m ready for the day.
I usually tidy the children’s bedrooms as well as the family room and then put away breakfast dishes until our nanny arrives at 9 a.m. We catch up on the children and then I retreat to my office to write. Mr. Magpie is usually back from drop-off around 9:10, and he will prepare my coffee and bring it to me, just the way I like it. He is too good to me.
I am sure these are not novel insights for anyone, but thinking through my regimen, a few things that help smooth out my morning:
1) Keeping an eye on the clock. If the children are not seated at breakfast by 7:15, or the lunch is not packed by 7:45, or I’m not bringing mini’s clothing down by 8, I know I need to pick up the pace or drop something, i.e., the dishwasher can wait until later. Having this schedule and these mini-deadlines in mind also gives me little pockets to perch at the counter and respond to emails, or enjoy an extra scoop of yogurt, or whatever, if I am moving ahead of schedule.
2) Whenever possible, prayer early in the morning makes for a far more centered day. I have to be flexible on this, because if I insist I fit it in, I know myself well enough to expect that I will rush through prayer, and I don’t want that. Still, when it happens, I feel as though I’m starting the day pointed in the right direction.
3) If I don’t pack lunch the night before (ha — I never ever do), I will at least have planned what I’m going to make her so she doesn’t, for example, have peanut butter for breakfast and lunch, and I don’t stand vacantly in front of the fridge for five minutes.
4) I keep mini’s glasses, eyepatch, a bin of all her hair gear (spray, brushes, bows, elastics), and thermometer on the same shelf of a cabinet off our kitchen. Having all of those items on-hand in the same place makes the morning much simpler. I used to find myself sprinting up and downstairs in search of a brush, hair ties, etc, and I learned quickly that I needed a separate station downstairs to prevent that.
What about you? How do you start your day? How do you set yourself up for success?
+Heads up! If you are a Madewell Insider (free to join), they are offering 20% off the entire site. All my favorite picks from Madewell this season here!
+J’adore this mirror — currently 20% off! (BTW, this promotion is an ideal time to invest in a piece you’ve been eyeing of theirs. As you know, I love my Blake dresser and the rug in our master bedroom! We used a 20% off code to score our new teak ourdoor dining table and we love it!)
+Love these retro-style Nike shorts.
+Barbour-inspired poncho for $129.
+LOVE this sweater from Banana.
+This Emerson Fry blouse is so, so chic.
+This GOAT dress would be so pretty for a demure/conservative occasion.
+Cute wicker bon bons in tons of colors.
+THE BEST round hair brush. I read that Gisele’s stylist uses it on her and have never looked back.
+It’s been a minute since I mentioned these simple plastic bins, but they are SO useful for SO many things. Toy/art storage, beach/pool toys, picnics, etc.
+Sweet fall gingham dress for your little lady.
+My mom gave me one of these detanglers a few Christmases ago and I use it every day after my shower.
+This chic straw bag would work for fall!
+I like the idea of a stack of these bold beaded bracelets.
+A wavy tortoise headband for fall at a great price.
+How fun are these cups for a special occasion?
+Chic tabletop in a box.
+Fringe is having a moment — love this jacket and this one, too!