Creating and maintaining an intentional morning routine for moms is so important—yet we rarely remember to make ourselves a priority, or downright feel guilty for doing so. We often get lost in the thick of motherhood and in everything that comes with being a mama to our little ones. We place ourselves on the back burner and for many of us, we never truly ever return.

According to our 2023 State of Motherhood survey report, the majority of moms (62%) report getting less than 1 hour to themselves each day. But we deserve our time—and the same effort that we pour into everyone else around us. We deserve to put ourselves first sometimes so that we can find and reconnect with ourselves, nurture our inner woman and not get lost in the midst of all that motherhood is.

For many moms, motherhood is the biggest identity crisis that we will ever experience. We get so used to just going through the motions that we forget to be mindful and intentional about ourselves.

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Related: Mama, your time is precious too

I remember the never-ending rush of the newborn days when I had to choose between a shower, a meal or trying to close my eyes for a few moments while the baby slept. I remember how my showers went from something I took my time with to something I spent a mere three minutes doing just so I could make myself accessible again. I remember often skipping any form of self-care overall—be it my skin-care routine, eating a well-rounded meal or getting fully dressed.

Motherhood was a rush. 

I’d roll out of bed at the very last minute just to try and squeeze out every ounce of sleep that I could get. I would sacrifice getting dressed and resort to throwing on a T-shirt and sweatpants—or simply staying in the same clothes I had on the day before. I often still rush myself in the shower, believing that I need to hurry up and get back to my child even though he is much older and more independent now (and doesn’t only rely on me.)

Related: Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

It was evident that I didn’t make myself a priority, and that was because I didn’t believe that I needed to be one. I believed my kid, my husband, my work and everything else came before me.

Building an intentional morning routine is what you need to find balance—and connect with yourself again.

But I didn’t feel good about myself. I didn’t know who I was. I had no time to connect with this new woman that I was becoming. I was a stranger living in my own skin.

I became so used to putting myself on the back burner. I became so used to my needs and wants feeling inconsequential. I became so used to the rush of things that I never figured out how to regain my balance—until now.

Related: How morning ‘mirror mantras’ have changed my entire day

I recently returned to establishing an intentional morning routine—and it’s one of the best things that I have done for myself in a long time. Because I believe that good morning routine habits build mindfulness and help to foster a better connection within myself, I have become devoted to maintaining the time that I take to prepare for the day ahead of me.

Since doing this, I have truly seen a change in how I feel about myself and how my days unfold. So of course I’m here to share my testimony and hope that it encourages other mamas to join in and create an intentional morning routine for themselves.

How to build an intentional morning routine for moms

1. Figure out what helps you set the pace for your day

For my morning routine, music sets the tone. Something about soft jazz playing in the background as I prepare for my day helps to balance me. I loosen up by dancing to the music while I get dressed and it helps me to feel freer throughout the day.

Finding what helps to create a positive tone for your day is as simple as understanding what helps you feel good—internally and externally. Once you find that thing, incorporate it into your daily morning routine.

2. Get good rest the night before

Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. But an intentional morning routine starts with an intentional bedtime routine. As a mama, sometimes it’s hard to get to bed at a decent time when you’re trying to fight your little ones down to sleep, finish up the dishes and overall relax from the long day that you just endured. But getting a good night’s rest doesn’t happen overnight—I know, that contradicts itself. But what I mean is that it starts off little by little.

For myself, I have started to limit my screen time at night. I find that not being engrossed in social media before I go to bed helps me to unwind and fall asleep a lot easier. I have also tried to not force myself to accomplish everything if it isn’t done by the day’s end.

I have what I call a “rolling” to-do list, which means that if I don’t complete tasks by bedtime, those tasks simply roll over into the next day for me to focus on. But I’m no longer trying to live up to the quota of checking off every task just to say that I got things done. I know that my rest is important, and I honor that by acknowledging the nighttime as my chance to unwind and rest.

3. Be fully present in every step of your routine

I once heard a woman on a podcast talk about how she is so intentional with herself that she takes her time with every single thing—right down to putting on lotion. She went on to explain how while putting on lotion after a shower, she is mindful of how she applies it, how it feels on her skin and how it makes her feel refreshed.

Hearing this made me realize something that I never noticed before: Not once have I ever thought that deeply about putting on lotion. While showering, I’m often focused on what I am going to wear when I get out. While lotioning my skin, I’m focused on what I am going to do to my hair. While doing my hair, I’m focused on what I am going to eat for breakfast. I realized that I am always focused on the next thing.

Related: 5 ways to make peace with mom guilt and actually prioritize your self-care

But after hearing that podcast, I decided to try being fully present in every step of my morning routine—and I cannot express how rooted it has made me feel within myself since doing so. When I’m in the shower, I focus on how the water feels on my skin. I inhale, exhale and affirm myself for the day. When I get out of the shower, I focus on applying lotion to my skin and think about how it feels to be refreshed. While I’m doing my hair, I appreciate the crown that sits atop my head and its versatility. And while I’m cooking my breakfast, I think about how my body deserves to be well-nourished each and every day.

This simply taught me how to slow down—something that I believe every mama needs a reminder to do in the midst of doing it all.

We need to remember to place mindfulness at the root of our routines—and at the center of our lives. Because motherhood is often a rush—but that doesn’t mean you have to get lost in the thick of it. Building an intentional morning routine is what you need to find balance—and connect with yourself again.

So if you’re looking for a justified reason to spend 45 minutes in the shower, here’s your sign. I truly believe in the saying that when you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good about yourself, there’s truly no stopping you, mama. 

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 19, 2022. It has been updated.