My Morning Routine - Investing in My Health & Myself
Being a mother is a full-time job. Managing cystic fibrosis is a full-time job. Adding those two things together felt, at times, impossible. In the early days of motherhood, I ignored the advice "sleep when the baby sleeps," but not because I couldn’t use the sleep! I did this in order to manage the tasks of both of these important responsibilities. As soon as my daughter, Lively, fell asleep, I would hit the ground running.
My morning routine with cystic fibrosis
- wipe down counters
- start making lunch
- clean nebulizers
(oh wait! I need to wash my pumping equipment too!)
- find pumping equipment
- wash and sterilize each piece
- move the laundry from the washer to the dryer
(hmm… when was the last time I showered?)
- start the shower
(Oh no! I forgot about lunch!)
- run to the kitchen
- throw away the burnt lunch food
- hop in + out of the shower
- fold the clothes from the dryer
(Shoot! I haven’t done my breathing treatments yet)
- sit down for treatments
but before I could begin… baby’s awake!
There's not enough time in a day!
Ah! The cycle was maddening. It felt like I didn’t have enough time in the day to achieve everything I needed to do. I would resort to staying up late to fold laundry, pack a lunch for work the next day, and finish all the tasks I neglected throughout the day.
Over time, things started sliding further and further down the list as a priority. My laundry piled up, so that I could make sure that the baby’s was done. Lively had a bath every evening; meanwhile, my time between showers stretched from every other day, to 3, then 4, sometimes 5 days. Lively always had clean bottles and fresh milk ready to go, yet I would neglect to pack, or sometimes even prepare meals for myself.
My breathing treatments were always interrupted by something that felt urgent: the baby waking, needing to nurse, and remembering a task I hadn’t made it through. I was cutting corners in my care and I knew something had to change.
Lifestyle adjustments required routine adjustments
When my husband’s job took us to a new city, and further away from family, I became a stay-at-home mom. I was sure this would fix things for me. I had so many more hours in my day to designate to my daughter, my home, and my health. But slowly, I realized this wasn’t as much of a fix as I thought.
Even though I had more time at home, I wasn’t prioritizing things the right way. Of course, none of Lively’s needs every went unmet, but I couldn’t figure out how to continue taking excellent care of her and myself. I contemplated hiring help, but it wasn’t in our budget to pay a nanny what I knew they deserved.
Then, like the glorious revelation that it was, it hit me: wake up before the baby. Everyday. Wake up before the baby. Now, I didn’t just wake up a little bit before she did. That was already pretty standard for me, because my kiddo was a really good sleeper. But I’d stumble out of bed at 6:45 AM and she would wake up at 7:20 AM, but this wasn’t enough time to do anything. I needed over an hour to myself, to have a moment of peace before the day began, to do breathing treatments and to eat a good breakfast; to shower without interruption, and to put on mascara when I felt like it. I needed to treat my own needs with the same urgency that I treated hers. I needed the gift of time, and no one could give that to me except for me.
Adding CF care to my morning routine
I decided I would start waking up early every morning and use that time to care for myself, and only myself. If it sounds glamorous, I promise you, it wasn’t. This meant that I didn’t try to fit in emptying the dishwasher, wiping down counters, or sorting laundry, so I made sure this was all done the night before. It meant I didn’t start my day on social media, and put the false urgency of emails, friend requests, and comments above my own needs. It meant that I made an effort to start the day with breathing treatments instead of coffee.
It wasn’t the fluffy type of self-care that I needed. No mani/pedi, new pair of jeans, or hair product was going to help me feel in control of my life. It was deep, rooted, didn’t-feel-like-doing-it-but-did-it-anyway, self-care. I chose to wake up early to accomplish the necessary things, so that I can enjoy the chosen things.
Creating a steadfast morning routine was one of the best ways I have managed life with CF with the life of motherhood. Whether someone is a parent with CF, a parent to a child with CF, or none of the above, establishing a solid morning routine can help you achieve your goals, by positioning the most important things before the seemingly urgent things.
My new cystic fibrosis-friendly morning routine
During the week, I set my alarm for 5:15 AM. My husband wakes up a few minutes before me, so he’s usually there to help encourage me to get up, even if my bed is extra cozy that morning. I stumble to sink to brush my teeth and then make my bed.
Some of the ways that I make the dark, cool, and way-too-early-morning more inviting is by keeping slippers beside my bed, and using warm water to wash my face and brush my teeth. Making my bed, first thing in the morning, makes me feel slightly more accomplished than just leaving the blankets wadded it up. It also makes it nearly impossible to climb back under covers after I see my husband off for work, something I used to accidentally slide into the habit of doing.
Cystic fibrosis treatments
After that, I make my way downstairs. Here’s where the tough part comes in: I don’t pour myself a cup of coffee. Fresh, hot coffee is the remedy to the ails of early mornings, but I found that if I even go as far as pouring myself a cup, I feel tempted to drink it before I start the most important part of my morning: breathing treatments.
Instead, I sit down in the corner of my living room where my nebulizer and vest are placed, and begin treatments right away. I aim for this to be muscle memory. If my path that morning sways the slightest from this, my ingrained habit corrects me back to the course. Doing breathing treatments first helps me get the bulk of my morning CF care in, and helps me stay on track for the rest of my care routine for the entire day.
When I’ve completed my breathing treatments, I move onto my next health task: taking my morning meds. I pour myself some coffee (finally), make an easy, fat-containing breakfast and take my medication.
Having a breakfast routine allows me to take my medication at the same time every day (a requirement for my gene modifier medication) and saves me the hassle of setting alarms on my phone to remind me to take medication at a specific time. It also helps me to complete breathing treatments before I take my medication, because it prevents the likelihood of throwing up my meds during my treatments.
With treatments completed, breakfast finished, coffee drank, and medicine taken, I head to my room to get ready. Taking a hot shower, changing out of pajamas and into my mom-iform (like a uniform, except for moms): yoga pants and a sweater, and fixing my hair and makeup (on a good day), completes my getting-ready process.
These small, less significant tasks, are often what I read about on other “mom-blogs” or forums. I would scoff at posts that I believed elevated the importance of looking your best in order to feel your best, but if I may offer a word of advice: believe the hype. Maybe styling my hair and changing out of the clothes I slept in isn’t as important as doing airway clearance and taking life-saving medication, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not important. Creating time in my morning routine to get ready, helps me feel refreshed and energized.
These changes are for me
After those four main tasks, my morning is won. I’m ready to start my day. I have time and energy to give my daughter when she wakes up, and a sense of accomplishment that can help carry me through some of the menial housework like doing dishes or starting laundry. I no longer feel the dread of sacrificing my time to care for my health, and instead feel empowered by investing in myself.
How has CF impacted your morning? Do you have a morning routine? What does it look like? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!
Do your pets help with your cystic fibrosis?