As care partners, we cannot rely on that perfect morning routine we read so much about and follow the somewhat universal belief that if you start the day “right” you are setting yourself up for success. Elements are true, but we cannot stress when our day begins in a way that is eons from that “perfect morning routine.”
For we may start the day on our terms, and then be immediately thrown off, undoing all that work we did when we woke up. A loved one may fall, communication may be difficult, or a routine doctor’s appointment is turned into something more.
In a way, this could be anyone’s life, not just the life of a care partner. Everyone has bad days. All of us have moments when the plan for the day or even the hour is thrown out the window. No morning routine can save you from the trials of life. To some extent, all of us are living in service of another, yet when one is a care partner, the mindset, the need for flexibility, and the possible strife greet us differently. Our emotions are fully invested in our work, along with our body, mind, and spirit. This is why care partners must find moments and easy ways to restart their day. These moments are more important than a morning routine. Care partners should be guided to find a moment to refresh their minds and be able to go out into the next hour or even minute with a sense that life is still beautiful, still good, and that we can all start again. When we try to start or reset our day, care partners sometimes need that extra bust of encouragement, grounding, and peace.
Fulton Sheen said, “There are two ways of waking up in the morning. One is to say day, “Good morning, God,’ and the other is to say ‘Good God, morning!” I think of this quote often and find it to be the best morning routine. It can set up or a day when we cannot spend two hours every morning journaling, working out, meditating, praying, and “eating that frog.” Our biggest project is to serve and care for our loved ones. That 5:00 am Club will have to wait because that block of time from 5-7 may be the only hours of sleep we get. The journal pages will have to remain blank for now. That book will have to wait. Our morning run may have to become a 10-minute jog right before bed.
So what does all of this say? For care partners, your best morning routine will be to thank God for a new day. To find a millisecond of thanksgiving before you fully open your eyes. Your morning routine may be saying a quick prayer or voice dictating an email to a friend or loved one while you walk downstairs to make breakfast. Your morning routine will have to be one of thanksgiving to get your mind and heart set up for a day that may be the best day of your care partner’s journey or the worst.
It is important to remember, when road bumps hit, that you can restart your day. Re-enter that moment of thanksgiving for something, anything! That sip of coffee or tea. The sunlight. Your ability to stand, walk, put dishes away without too much effort, clean clothing. Something. During times of respite or quiet, create a list of everything you are or could be grateful for and keep it in reach for these moments when you need to restart your day.
Throughout the day, find ways to engage with what is important to you. It may not be the 110% effort you once knew, but engage with it. Read a page of your favorite book or an article on your passion topics. Find ways to have your loved one help you bake your famous cookies. Say a prayer while you help your loved one get in the car for a doctor’s appointment. Do something with the 30 seconds, or 30 minutes, that you have to reset your mind, your heart, and your day.
Morning routines are the buzz topic right now. I cannot help but read about what someone is currently doing each morning, or seeing the competition about who is getting up the earliest or accomplishing the most before 8 AM. Yes, a well throughout morning routine can set up your day for success and in turn your life, yet even that may be a luxury for some. We can all wake up with a grateful heart and find 30 seconds throughout the day to refresh the spirit in a way that will carry us through until our head hits the pillow. We can all take a moment to breathe even if our hands and emotions are full.