Here is a hack that a number of my clients have found helpful when figuring out their routine and how to fit in time for themselves:

If you are a parent of young children, your day does not start when you wake up.

What starts when you open your eyes is your children’s day. That begins at whatever godawful time they wake up, and you groggily serve cereal, break up arguments, force limbs into clothing and desperately search for coffee. This is the time of day when other people are doing their “morning routines” and you resentfully imagine the journalling and yoga that is going on in other households as you wipe bottoms and answer another 32 questions about Pokemon.

So as a freelancing parent, when does your day begin? It begins when you drop of the children at school, childcare, the grandparents or wherever it is they spend their time whilst you are working.

How does that look at the moment? You get back home, possibly grab a cuppa, open the computer and try to launch yourself into the day’s work as quickly as possible? If you didn’t have children, would that be the most sensible way to start work the moment you opened your eyes?

For the first few hours of the day you have been starting your children’s day. Now, in a quiet house, it is time to start yours. What morning routine would you like to follow? Some meditation perhaps. A short walk. A cup of tea in the garden. Reading the news. Doing some exercise. Maybe none of those things – your ideal morning routine is your own. No matter what it is is though, all of those people on the podcasts blathering on about starting their day with mindfulness and Pilates are definitely on to something. Taking even just a short amount of time to tend to your body and mind will put you in a far better position to tackle your working day.

“But I don’t have time!” Yes yes, I know that’s the standard objection. My response to that is, firstly you will be so much more productive after a decent start-the-day routine, that you will find the time. Secondly, there will be faffy little jobs you do in your working day that could just as easily be done in front of the TV of an evening. How much better to have 30 minutes of healthy activity every day plus 20 minutes of social media scheduling in front of the TV, rather than doing all the work before dinner time, vegging in front of the TV and feeling crap for never finding the time to do the self care you know would be beneficial?

Of course not everyone can fit in 30 minutes of a morning routine, no matter what I say. If that truly is the case, at least treat yourself to a quiet cup of tea after the school run before you tackle the to do list. The important thing is to recognise that is the point at which your day begins. Honour that time and choose how you spend it. Your day will feel lighter if you do.

Helen Calvert
Coach and Director of Clear Day
August 2021

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