Before I had kids, I imagined myself being the peaceful, calm mom who didn’t let her kids eat too many processed foods, always had an endless supply of wholesome and educational activities planned out, and never parked them in front of the TV.
I now imagine God laughing when He heard those thoughts, and realizing just how many opportunities for teaching me humility He had.
When I go to bed at night, I plan out how I can wake up and have a more peaceful morning. Sometimes I set my coffeemaker to automatically brew coffee. Sometimes I pour fresh cups of milk and put them in the fridge at four-year-old height for easy access. Sometimes I even make a breakfast ahead of time that just has to be heated and served.
And then? Someone wakes me up at 5:45am screaming that the baby has poop and it all descends into chaos. Then I find myself in a grumpy mood for the rest of the day.
I strongly believe that how you start your day sets the tone for your day. And as an anti-schedule person, I’ve been resistant to creating a morning routine for years.
But I finally realized that having a routine and adhering to a strict schedule are two completely different things. I used to think they were one in the same, but I’ve come to realize that having a schedule is a much more rigid, hour-by-hour plan, while a routine connects a series of actions together in a predictable pattern.
So for example, a schedule would be:
Wake up at 6:30am
Pray from 6:30-7:00am
Change diapers from 7:00-7:15am
Make coffee and pour milk cups, start breakfast 7:15am
… and the list goes on
By contrast, a routine looks more like this:
Make coffee and pour milk cups, start breakfast, etc
The difference is so simple it’s almost imperceivable. But simply removing the time schedule allows for a lot more flexibility and reduces stress. And if something comes up that needs to be addressed, say a toddler has an accident or a neighbor stops by unexpectedly, it doesn’t throw off your whole day. You can just address what needs to be addressed, and then keep on rolling.
Why do I think this is so important? And more specifically, why do I feel it’s especially important to talk about with other busy Catholic moms?
It’s precisely because we’re so busy that we need to build routines into our lives, especially if we want to grow closer to God and deepen our relationship with Him during these seasons of chaos.
I’ve written before about how to find more time in your busy morning for your business, because I am passionate about helping busy moms manage the chaos of raising kids while also running their businesses. And the same principles can be applied to helping you find more time for prayer in your busy morning.
You’ll notice above that I included prayer in both my sample schedule and sample routine. When I was trying to run my life according to a schedule (that was an interesting two days…), I felt like I couldn’t pray if someone woke up during my “prayer time.” So instead of getting in what I could, or learning to pray throughout the day, I just kept putting it off until later.
And as much as I hate to admit it, many days “later” never came, or I fell asleep during it. Not exactly the quality time with the Lord I was seeking…
But now that I focus much more on routines that allow for fluidity and flexibility throughout our days, I find that I’m able to fit prayer into many more places. Sometimes that’s a rosary in the car on the way to run errands, or other times it’s candid conversation with our Blessed Mother while I wash the dishes.
I do still like to set aside dedicated prayer time, but I’m no longer feeling like prayer is an “agenda item” like I did when I was trying to make everything fit into neat and tidy little boxes (I have toddlers and a baby… how long was it supposed to take me to figure out nothing would ever be “neat and tidy” again?!).
So if you’re feeling frustrated by not getting in as much prayer time as you’d like, I’d challenge you to look at your current morning routine and see if you can make a few changes to open up more unscheduled or unstructured time. It’s been a game-changer for me, and I hope this can help you as well!