Read any self-help book or guide for entrepreneurs (or otherwise busy people) and you’re likely to see the same advice over and over again: You need to start each day with a morning ritual. Wake up before anyone else. Meditate. Work out. Drink green juice. Write in your journal. Watch the sun rise. This is how you will be the most productive, most grounded, and most happy, they say. “They” probably don’t have small children. Here’s why I’ve chosen a nighttime ritual instead…
I’ve tried and tried (and tried!) to start a morning ritual since I became a mom, and I’ve failed miserably every time. It goes something like this. Either I’m up several times during the night because my daughter has a mosquito bite or a leaky pull up or just wakes up and cries for no reason at all, and when my alarm goes off in the morning all I can think is “Eff that! There’s no way in hell I’m getting up one MORE time before the sun.” I turn it off, roll back over, and sleep until my next wake-up call (which sounds like this, “Mommmmmmeeeeee!”). Awesome. OR the more annoying option is that I wake up at 6am when my alarm goes off, congratulate myself for getting out of bed to start my ritual, tiptoe down the stairs to make some coffee (because there’s no way my morning ritual is NOT going to include coffee).
I brew my cup, sit down, take in that glorious aroma, and…. “Mommmmmmeeeeee!”
The next two hours usually go like this: “Mommy, rock me!” I think to myself, I’ll rock you while I drink my coffee, put you back in bed after you fall asleep, and then I can have some me time. That, of course never works. She lays on me in some weird way that I can smell my coffee but I can’t lift it to my mouth (torture!), and she passes out almost immediately but I can tell that the second I try to move her she’s going to wake up. (If I’m reeeally lucky her pull up leaks on me, too!) So, there I sit. A hostage. Awake at 6am. Exhausted because, really, I needed another hour of sleep.. And pissed off that everyone else in my house is sound asleep, and I got JUST enough coffee in my system that I can’t fall asleep on the recliner. Why? Because someone like Marie Forleo (who, don’t get me wrong, I admire a great deal, but I’m pretty sure does not have children) told me I MUST have a morning ritual.
See also 14 Inspiring Yoga Mamas to Follow
You can learn from my mistakes—my painful, annoying, awful, bleary-eyed, early morning mistakes… Forget the morning ritual nonsense if you’ve tried it a couple of times and it hasn’t worked for you. Create a nighttime ritual instead.
Why a Nighttime Ritual is WAY Better Than a Morning Ritual for Moms
If you’re like me, you’re completely run down by the end of the day, so you REALLY need a little something to make you feel refreshed and recharged to sustain you through the night and leave you feeling much better in the morning.
It’s easier to fit it into your schedule, you likely already do the same things every night (a nightly ritual for your kids like reading them a book, giving baths, brushing teeth). As soon as you put your little ones down for bed at night (you’ll have at least an hour or two before they wake for the first time, right?) it’s YOUR turn. What do YOU need to feel more present, grounded, relaxed, centered, and happy again?
Nighttime Ritual Practices
What should you pick? Here are just a few ideas (choose one or several depending on how much time you have):
Even if you only sit and follow your breath for one minute, you’ll notice a big difference. Promise!
Practice a restorative yoga pose or two.
Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose), Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose), Balasana (Child’s Pose), and Savasana are all good choices. Set a timer for at least 5 minutes and sink in.
Take a bath.
(Or combine a bath with a few yoga poses for for some bath yoga!).
Write a quick journal entry.
My favorite journaling exercise is to jot down my happiest moment of the day. I love reading back through all my happy moments when I need to be reminded of how truly amazing my life really is. I also usually take a moment to make a quick list of anything I need to do the next day so I can rest easy knowing I won’t forget about anything while I’m snoozing.
Sip a relaxing herbal tea.
Or even a glass a wine (just know that alcohol can disrupt sleep.) I’m a big fan of chamomile or lavender teas in the evenings. And—what the heck?—the rest of the day, too.
Read something that inspires you, makes you laugh, or motivates you.
Like… the Spoiled Yogi blog, of course <wink wink>.I’m only partially kidding. If you’re going to read opt for a printed book or magazine or print out some amazing blog posts and read those on paper so you don’t won’t be looking at the glow from your screen. (More on that below.)
Make time to reconnect with your spouse or partner or call a friend.
It can be as simple as a quick de-briefing of your days sans kids screaming over the dinner table or a deeper, more in-depth conversation.
Go to bed earlier.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your health and overall well-being (both mental and physical) is to just realize that you need more sleep and become fierce about making that happen. That means you do anything—and I mean anything (beg your partner to put the kids to sleep, hire a babysitter or a night nurse, allow a slumber party at grandma’s house—but make. it. happen. Your health has to be your top priority so you can be the kickass mom, partner, worker, friend, whatever you can be. You deserve that. And so do the other people in your lives. Whenever I’m feeling particularly run-down I skip all the night time rituals and go straight to sleep right after I get my girl down to sleep.
Tips for a Restful Nighttime Ritual
Decide what your ritual will be and stick to it.
After you leave that baby’s room at night, don’t even think about pulling out your computer of your phone or sitting down in front of the TV. Head straight for your yoga mat, meditation cushion, bathtub, or herbal tea. You deserve this time to unwind, so TAKE IT!
Start small and keep things simple.
When you first start anything new, you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding if you start by just spending 5-10 minutes doing it for a week or two, then slowly increase that time as you start to get more comfortable (and realize how beneficial it is for you!).
Turn off electronics.
This one is tough for me because sometimes I like to catch up on work emails and blogging at night… But did you know that the blue glow from your computer, phone, tablet, and TV screens can make it harder to relax and go to sleep at night? Once you put your device away for the night, try leaving it off until the morning. You just might sleep better during that precious sleep time you have and wake up feeling better in the morning (goodness knows, mamas can use all the help getting good sleep we can get!).
Make sleep sacred.
Sleep is one of the most vital parts of our overall health that we tend to overlook (which is ironic for moms, because most of us would never overlook the importance of naps and bedtime for our own children! Nobody wants a cranky baby on her hands, and you know what?, nobody wants to be around a cranky mama either). Sleep is SO important to both your physical and mental health. Just as you give your child a bedtime and stick to it, it’s a good idea to give yourself a bedtime, too!
I think of my time asleep as a part of my nightly ritual, so it’s important to have bedding that feels a little luxurious—a comfy mattress, and a pillow that’s perfectly suited to my sleep habits and my sleepy head. It’s one thing that I totally recommend splurging on. After all, you spend so much of your time sleeping, it’s worth the investment in something that makes you feel super cozy and is tailored to your individual sleep style.
I’d love to hear more about your night time ritual in the comments section below. Tell me: Do you have one? Do you want to start one? What challenges do you need to overcome to make it work?
Get Cozy + ENTER TO WIN!
Ready to start sleeping better? I’ve teamed up with the awesome sleep wellness company Slumbr that offers pillows to help you pamper yourself while you snooze! I have a couple of the pillows myself (Thanks, Slumbr!), and I can’t imagine going back to the plain pillow I was using before. And I’ve even incorporated the Ara pillow, which is filled with buckwheat into my nightly ritual—it is firm enough to double as a meditation cushion.
ENTER TO WIN one of their super comfy pillows—sometimes a change as simple as a pillow switch can make a world of difference in your sleep quality. Fill out this form to be entered to win. One lucky reader will be chosen and will be notified by email.
*Note: This post is sponsored by Slumbr. However, all views and opinions expressed below are my own.