Let’s talk about mornings.

Mornings can be rough, especially if you are a mom to school-aged children. There are tantrums about getting out of bed and getting dressed. There is chaos over what to eat for breakfast or pack for lunch. And there is never enough time before you have to rush out the door.

I cringe at the stressful mornings that were my past. I wasn’t happy kicking off my day like this and realized that something needed to change. In this case, it was my morning routine. A morning routine doesn’t need to be long and drawn-out, but it does need to be meaningful, intentional and consistent.

How to create the right morning routine for you

I know it can be overwhelming to think of yet another thing to add to your day. Remember to think of the routine as collecting the good habits you want to employ throughout the day, so it’s about blocking your time in a beneficial way.

1. Pre-prep

This is a suggestion for the evening before, but it still affects your morning. Pre-prep lunches, lay out the next day’s clothes for your kids (and yourself), sign homework and pack backpacks at night. You can even pre-prep breakfast. Then take a look at tomorrow’s schedule so you are clear on what you want to accomplish the following day. The goal is to get as much ready as you can the night before so you have a smoother morning.

2. Wake up earlier

I know you don’t want to hear this, so let’s just get it over with as the first tip. You will rarely find a successful person who doesn’t get up early. I’m not making this up (sorry)! People who get up early tend to be happier, be more productive and make more money. The simple truth is that you can’t fit anything else in your day if you don’t get up a little earlier. Start with 10 minutes, then increase from there as you’re able.

I don’t, however, want you to sacrifice sleep, so you might need to give up that episode of The Bachelor or Scandal and set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier. And you definitely need to change your paradigm: Instead of saying, “I’m not a morning person,” tell yourself, “This is my special time.” It’s okay if you don’t become a “morning person” who bounces out of bed joyfully every morning. As one of my friends says, “I don’t like getting up early, but I love being up early.”

What matters is that you get up and do your routine.

3. Create a ritual

Rituals are incredibly comforting. You can count on them each day, knowing they are like a best friend who always supports you. Here’s a suggestion of what to try:

  • Start your day with a cup of coffee or tea before anyone else is up.
  • Do not check your phone or computer, even if you think it will help you ease into your day.
  • Consider journaling, reading, or meditating. Many find this early morning quiet time to be a wonderful space for prayer or inspirational reading. Or maybe get yourself a set of good colored pencils and an adult coloring book and color your way into the morning. Experiment and see what you’re most drawn to, then make that part of your routine.

4. Exercise

Consider starting your day with movement. If you can get your exercise done before your family wakes up, you are golden for the day! Try an early morning Body Back class if it’s available near you, or if you have stroller-age kids, go to Stroller Strides with your little cherub. Exercise in the morning will pump up your energy and your endorphins, giving you a much more positive perspective for your day.

5. Write down your three most important things

Take a look at your calendar for the day and decide the three most important things you need to get done. Write them down, including when you will do them. This puts you in the driver’s seat. This gives you CONTROL. That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Commit to this, and you will put yourself in charge.

Committing to a healthy morning routine can give you back your control and help you restore some of that much-needed life balance. It sets the tone for your day, motivating you and filling you with the energy you will need for later hours. With a morning routine, you start making small, good choices as soon as you wake up, and when it truly becomes a routine, you barely need to think about the choices—they become second nature.

Excerpt from The Empowered Mama: How to Reclaim Your Time and Yourself while Raising a Happy, Healthy Family, by Lisa Druxman.