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Morning Routine and Healthy Habits in a hostile environment (Aka Parenting)

One year ago I became a father.
While this event made me the happiest man alive, it also carried a bunch of challenges.

I've always been an advocate of morning routines, meditation, sports practices and other healthy habits regarding productivity and personal balance.

Despite my efforts this last year all these routines have been paused because I couldn't find the right way to make it work. I've been wondering a long time about this and would like to know your opinions or silver bullet to have both these healthy habits while keeping your family balance in check.

Here is what a typical day looks like for me:

  • 6:00 Waking Up, shower, perform some home chores
  • 6:30 <-> 7:30 Leave to work: I have one hour of commute in train letting me check newsfeeds, catch up some discussions on slack, read a book or even play my Switch from time to time but no substantial work (coding)
  • 12:30 <-> 13:30 Lunch break: One hour basically trying to learn something while eating (currently Japanese). My company network policy prevents me to do much and I don't have a personal hotspot... Even with Pomodoro stuff the amount of coding you can do within one hour and controlled network access is fairly limited.
  • 18:00 <-> 19:00 Go home. The commute is basically the same as in the morning, watch videos and read. Once I arrive I take the relay of my wife to take care of our baby while she prepares dinner. Sometimes the contrary (I love cooking)
  • 20:00 Dinner: Try to catch up with my wife about her day and mine and upcoming plans for the weekend of the baby
  • 20:30 <-> 21:30 Baby Time: I play with my daughter, bath her, try to calm her down for sleep while my wife cleans up and do some chores (and vice versa)
  • 21:30 <-> 23:00 Finish the chores, continue the discussions with my wife and if the stars align and it's a full moon the baby doesn't wake up and I can get some personal time to do real coding, writing and concentration stuff. (In practice 2 hours a week). Finally going to sleep for another day.

This year as a result, as a father it's been an amazing experience and my daughter is the cutest thing in the world. But I did make some big tradeoffs on my personal routines. My personal projects and blog have been on hold for a while, I used to run marathons but training has been a challenge and I'm getting out of shape. My meditation routine is often canceled within 10 minutes by tears or unforeseen events...
I did look online for "Routines for parents" but it mainly focuses on building a routine for your child ... Not how to manage the parents' routines while parenting

Here are my challenges :

  • How do you handle stuff like morning/night routines as parents? My wife would gladly do routines too but someone has to take care of the baby. Do you do rotation throughout the week and weekend?
  • I live in Japan, where the concept of babysitting does not exist. Even if we manage to get the baby handled by someone, it's a one-off thing and hardly becomes a routine
  • I do read a LOT of content about routines, deep work, and healthy habits but when I read these authors saying they have a family I can't help but think "Where are your kids while you're doing a 4-hour deep work and going to the gym?" Does this mean that his/her partner takes full load of family life while they're doing their things?
  • Even if someday I do find some time to do personal development or training, it's very unlikely that I can reproduce this miracle the next day and be back to a routine.

Am I missing something? Doing something wrong or should just get up even earlier to get those things done? Am I aiming too high as a one-year-old baby girl father?

Related remarks

You out there having 1, 2, 3 kids or even more, I DEEPLY RESPECT YOU AND LOVE YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART

Top comments (1)

jamesdengel profile image
James dengel

You are doing great.

Learning at lunch is a great idea, I listen to podcasts or radio during lunch time, I am learning Spanish, (Viva la España).

I can also relate to feeling time pressured, I have two daughters (2 and 10), and was struggling with this exact thing. For the first year or two it's really full on but does become easier as you get to know your baby and get them into a routine. I had a desire to build or grow a routine that works for my family and me. A routine is important not just for you but your family as well.

The best advice I was given was that routines are grown not implemented, so each week I have been adding in a new habit to the daily routine and changing stuff I do with my children. I added a new habit each week, I'll number the habits, so you get an idea of how many weeks I've been doing this so far.

Wake at 6:00 whatever happens. (1)
Drink a glass of water when I wake up. (2)
Do 20 press-ups after drinking the water. (3)
Put on some aftershave (4)

Then I get dressed do some house chores, ironing or dishwasher, sorting clothes etc.

Wake children at 7 then leave for work. Only a 15 minutes commute but I start at 7:30, I make sure I get a drink as the first thing i do in the office. (5)
Lunch is around 12-1, generally eat and then take a walk listening to podcasts (6), I decided to do this as I don't walk enough and can learn more.

Home by 5:30, then start to prepare the meal my girlfriend and I planned at the weekend (7), this saves the normal what would you like tonight, I don't fancy that or this or we are missing that special ingredient etc.

6:30 Bath time with my youngest daughter, I actually bath with her as it saves time and we can splash about a little. (8)

7:30 bed time for the youngest and then I spend some time with my other daughter.
8:15 bed time for my 10 year old.
8:30 Cook while I do 20 press ups (9)
9:00 nice meal time with my partner + house chores
10:00 get my clothes out and prepare any bags for the coming day (10)
10:30 Bed

So after 9 weeks:
I wake at 6.
I drink more per day.
I do 40 press ups a day. (I have been increasing this as i go)
We have a nice meal plan for the week.
I walk every day at work, practising listening to spanish, or thinking about coding.
I turned bath time from a chore time, into play time.
I am fully ready for the next day before it starts.

Over the next few weeks I plan on trying to add:
Reading with my 10 year old in the evening for 15 mins, she will read Harry potter or a Jacqueline Wilson book, me design patterns.
Add in some lunges to the daily work out at the start and the end. (will take two weeks)
Think of any other chores like the bath I can turn into fun games with my 2 year old. Perhaps buy a bag for her lego and see what we can throw in from the other end of the room ?

I really do believe that a journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step, I've taken 9 so far, it's about taking tiny little steps and growing a routine.

Good luck and thinking and asking about it is the way forward.:)