Morning Rituals

I just finished reading Found by Micha Boyett. It’s her journey as a new mom in finding space for prayer, contemplation, and the spiritual practices she enjoyed before her time was consumed with an infant-turned-active-toddler. Among many other gems, she talks about resetting expectations – perhaps prayer is one line while nursing rather than a focused quiet time. She also talks about the rituals of motherhood and how the day’s routines aren’t that different from those who live a monastic life.

It got me thinking about routines I keep sacred. Some are spiritual and most others simply help my sanity, which I’m learning is a spiritual practice in itself. Before I had Bea, I had a pretty set routine. I’d make my lunch each night before bed and I’d be in bed no later than 9:00 to give myself time to read before I went to sleep. (I think it got pushed to 9:30 after I married Frank, but I was still very strict!) I’d wake up at 6:00 each morning and always left the house at the same time. As a single person and even when it was just two adults in our house, it was pretty easy to keep a set routine.

And then Bea came along. Just when I thought we’d found a rhythm to our days, her naps would change or she would be teething or daylight savings would occur or some other phenomenon would happen to throw our routine off. It took a while, but I learned to relax in the non-routine of it all. There are some things, though – even in the chaos – I held sacred.

Bea's morning ritual
Bea’s morning ritual

1) I always make our bed. No matter if I napped with Bea again in just a few hours in those early days, knowing it was made at the start of each day made me feel like a whole person. Even now, having a made bed makes me feel ready for anything.

2) I always shower and put on “real” clothes. Staying in my pajamas all day makes me feel like I’m recovering from an illness. Early in my stay-at-home days, I made a decision not to wear yoga pants out of the house. I would change into jeans, run an errand, and often change back into my comfy pants. For whatever reason, going out feeling semi-put- together made even the longest days doable.

3) Frank is wonderful about letting me have a first cup of coffee while I read the news on my phone. It has looked different at different stages, but having that moment to ease into the day and catch up on the world helps my mindset, especially on days we have nothing much planned.

4) We (mostly) have family breakfasts. Even with the busyness of tax season, we try to sit down together in the morning. This has been vital, especially when Frank works late at night and misses bedtime. It’s one meal we can connect and focus as a family.

5) This is a new routine, but I’ve moved my Common Prayer book to my nightstand. I try to read three prayers a day, but am satisfied if I just read the morning and compline prayers. There’s something about getting that in that makes me feel less guilty if other study falls by the wayside.

What are some of your sacred routines?

Five Favorite Children’s Books

We have a lot of friends who have just had babies or who are due in the next couple months. I love giving books as part of the shower gift, so thought I’d highlight some we’re reading in our house at this moment.

Bea’s taste in favorite books changes nearly weekly, though we have a few lasting favorites that stay for months on end. Her favorites range from classics to something we randomly picked up at the library once.

Night Song by Ari Berk
This beautifully illustrated book is about Chiro, a little bat who goes on an adventure, following his song. When we first moved into our new house, Bea needed this book read to her every night before bed and often in the middle of the night, when she woke up disoriented.

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter
(Closely followed by The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
Of course we have the entire collection of Beatrix Potter stories and Bea has Peter Rabbit nearly memorized. Her current favorite, though is the story of Benjamin Bunny’s children, who are just as mischievous as Peter and Benjamin.

Bea with Old Kick Cow
Bea with Old Kick Cow

Thundercake by Patricia Polacco
Bea has adored Thundercake since this summer. When we took our road trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone, she dubbed our French press “Old Kick Cow” and kept it by her side for the entire ride. On our drive to Oklahoma in November, I found an audio version of the story and we listened to it on repeat the entire 10 hours. It’s a memoir of Polacco and her babushka making a cake before the thunderstorm arrives. Polocco’s storytelling is unparalleled and I’m thrilled that she is already a family favorite.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
This classic has become our go-to “last story” at bedtime. It’s another one Bea has nearly memorized and she loved pretending to eat all of the yummy foods. My only criticism of the story is that Carle says the caterpillar builds a cocoon around himself. I explained that it’s actually a chrysalis, and now we have to edit the story. (Frank didn’t get that memo and Bea made sure he knew it was not a cocoon!)

The Magic Flute by Margaret Graves
Frank and I saw the Magic Flute in New York when we got engaged (and are going again in May!) Bea was taken by this version of the story when we were visiting family over Thanksgiving. Frank’s aunt sent it as a Christmas present and we’ve read it everyday. It’s on the longer side, so we haven’t completed the book each day, but Bea loves pretending to be Pamina or Papageno, which is fun to overhear. This book is a good reminder of stocking our shelves with a range of levels – you never know what will capture the imagination.

What about you? What was a favorite book from your childhood? Or, what are some of your kids’ favorites?