Mornings and I have never gotten along.

I need quiet time (and coffee) to be ready for the day. I have not learned this lesson the easy way.

After our second son was born, overwhelming mornings turned our days into chaos. I had trouble making decisions and completing tasks. My anxiety and irritability were through the roof. To make matters worse, my three-year-old was bouncing off the walls and demanding to know the day’s plans before my eyelids had completely opened.

I started researching ways to trick myself into being a morning person and create some harmony between my vibrant little ray of sunshine and myself. Everything I came across revealed that successful people use morning rituals and report higher productivity and quality of life. In fact, one study showed that morning rituals improve a person’s productivity throughout the day by 31 percent. Interested now, right?

We associate rituals with celebrations, family traditions, or religious rites of passage. But many of us complete rituals every day. These habits – whether it’s a morning run or stretching before bed – wire our brains for happiness, productivity, and success.

There are some specific activities to include in a morning ritual for maximum effectiveness. An article in Inc. Magazine, outlines a research-backed, 23-minute morning ritual designed to maximize our “happiness advantage.” The evidence was clear: A ritual was the only answer to my it’s-way-too-freakin’-early-don’t-talk-to-me-yet woes.

So, I devised a plan to come up with a kid-friendly morning ritual that sets everyone up for success. I use an app that lets me customize our routine and reminds me with pleasant (key word) alarms and icons for each step in the process. So while my brain is still foggy from sleep, I feel no anxiety trying to remember what comes next.

I always make sure I complete the two activities happiness researchers suggest the most: keeping a gratitude journal and writing down my three most important tasks for the day. Then my son joins me and we go through the last few steps together.

His steps encourage respect for his environment, empathy toward others, and confidence in himself.

Connecting with the world

  • We light a candle to symbolize the light within us and around us.

Joys and sorrows

  • We share anything that we are looking forward to that day or things that concern us.

Quiet minute

  • We take one minute (really, just one) to sit quietly.

Connecting with others

  • We think of other people in our lives and wish them well.

Connecting with self

  • We say three positive affirmations.

Motivate and energize

  • We turn on YouTube and dance to our favorite songs.  

Review schedule

  • We review our plans for the day, what activities we’re doing, and if we’re going anywhere or seeing friends.

 

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It may seem like a lot of steps, but each one literally takes us about a minute. This works perfectly for the attention span of a three-year-old. Older kids could take longer with each step.

After doing our ritual for a few weeks, my son manages his emotions more appropriately and acts much more confident. I’ve also noticed an increase in my productivity and mood. We’ve also strengthened our relationship with each other.

I definitely still need coffee before we do this ritual, but these happiness scientists…they’re onto something.