Let’s Talk Morning Routines: What Do You NEED to Do When You First Wake Up?

For me the choice is between brushing my teeth IMMEDIATELY or beginning a slow inexorable descent into madness that will only end when I have devoured the world in fire. I choose to just brush my teeth.
Publish date:
September 26, 2012
morning routine

A week ago, I had the pleasure of spending a writing weekend in historic St Augustine, FL, with the lovely Marianne at the magnificent Cedar House Inn, a B&B so charming that even I managed to unclench just a little bit.

One morning, after I had hastened into the shower first thing as though I had an important meeting to get to, even though I was totally supposed to be on vacation, we got to talking about our daily wake-up routines.

For example, I know lots of people who don’t rush to shower on weekends, or on vacation for that matter, associating a first-thing shower with preparations for work. I know other folks who prefer to shower at night, and then to use the morning to -- I don’t know, do sun salutations and self-administered reiki or whatever.

I personally am irresistibly compelled to brush my teeth IMMEDIATELY upon waking, often even before I use the damn toilet, because not having clean teeth for even a millisecond of consciousness longer than absolutely necessary is unacceptable. I know normal people wait to brush after having coffee or -- for those of you with together, adult lives -- BREAKFAST, but I just brush again after all that. My unique room in hell probably involves me constantly waking up and then not being allowed to brush my teeth.

After the compulsive teeth brushing happens, I usually check my work email for catastrophes in need of tender loving care. Then I take a shower while listening to NPR, because I am a nerd.

Yes, I work from home and still I shower every morning upon waking. Not showering results in overpowering day-long ennui and that’s not conducive to the highly productive standards I set for myself.

I’m also a weirdo who shaves legs and underarms every day. Really. Every single day. Yes, even in the winter. The last time I went longer than 24 hours without shaving was when I was in the hospital to have my gallbladder liberated. That was almost ten years ago. I’m not kidding.

(Ain’t nothing wrong with literally anybody else sporting body hair, y’all -- I just have my personal comfort zones and I stick to them.)

Post-shower, I usually put on makeup -- WHAT, it’s fun -- while watching the local New England cable news station because the early-morning cheerfulness of the best-known nationally-televised wake-up programs fill me with a particularly stifling rage.

At some point, if I haven’t overslept, I drink a cup of coffee; this is the only coffee I drink all day, as if it’s not first thing in the morning I prefer tea.

Finally, I drive my husband to work. I enjoy this daily chauffeur duty because it means a) I have access to our shared car all day if I want to go to Panera or whatever and b) it forces me to get up at the same time every morning and shower and do all that other crap I mentioned, so by the time I get home around nine I am awake and ready to work. Or watch YouTube for several hours. Like you do.

Because I’m curious like that, I asked my fellow xoJane colleagues to tell me about their morning routines. (Remember all ourmorningfaces? That was fun.) And, of course, I’m going to ask you about yours.

Marianne: I wake up every weekday morning two or three minutes before my alarm goes off at 6am. I turn off the alarm, go to the bathroom, then head back to bed so I can read for half an hour. Then, at 6:30, another alarm goes off. I start my freelance work. At 7am, another alarm goes off, and I wake Ed up. A 7:30, the fourth alarm goes off - that's when I actually get UP and get ready for my day job.

Generally, I've pondered outfit choices during one of my overnight waking periods. Outfits are built around certain pieces or particular themes. The mornings where I don't KNOW what I am going to wear are kind of rough. Tooth brushing before makeup, makeup before clothes, clothes before leaving the house. Meds before leaving the house.

Yes, I realize there is no breakfast in there. I suck at breakfast.

Kate Conway: I'm a little ashamed. My morning routine takes twenty minutes, and it goes like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Check my phone to make sure I didn't reply to any emails while in a dream state (which has actually happened)
  3. Lie in bed and feel angry and/or think about my dreams for five minutes
  4. Turn on the mountain goats / of monsters and men. It has to be one of these two. This and #5 are about the only things I'd consider "essential"
  5. Put on pants
  6. Brush teeth
  7. Leave house, usually mumbling an angry hello at housemates.

That's all. And sometimes I forget #6 and have to do it on the way. I am bad at being a human before 8 am.

Daisy: There used to be a time when I liked to have sex in the morning but since that is never going to be an option again for what appears to be all of eternity, now I wake up, check my email, Twitter, news, and weather, and then I get out of bed and brush my teeth. This is after hitting snooze seventeen times. Describing this just actually put me back to sleep. Sigh.

Corynne: To feel human I must wash my face and put my body under running water (but I don't always use soap or wash my hair) and brush my teeth. And COFFEE. This Zing eye cream from Origins also really helps. Usually tinted moisturizer of some sort and SUNGLASSES (how do people leave the house without those?)

Usual day is: I'm up at 6:30 to walk the dog (or my husband is) and we are out the door by 8:45 (or if it's a bad day 9:15). Dog gets fed, pencil skirts get put on, we hit Greene Grape for the best COFFEE, and the Q train to my lovelies at xoJane by 945. But lately 10:15 bc I'm the worst.

s.e. smith: I always check my email on my phone in bed, and usually poke around on Twitter a bit to catch major news before I actually get up and turn on the computer. Then I proceed to make and drink a lot of tea with my morning meds while I set up my schedule for the day.

And then I work until bedtime.

I am super boring.

Emily: I get up at 6am and pray and meditate, do a little yoga, then have a healthy breakfast of fruit and green tea--- JK, I start working immediately while I guzzle coffee for about an hour, then get my kid up and dressed and send him off to daycare before I shower, do my hair and makeup and work still more, all before I actually GO to WORK. As a result, I am a stressy, panicky mess. I am working on this.

I feed the kid too. Don't let people think I don't feed my kid.

Alison Freer: When I'm not working:

  1. Wake up BEGRUDGINGLY. (Usually my BF rips the covers off of me and yells "Let's start our day!!)
  2. Remove chin strap. (I am a horrific mouth breather and am experimenting with this device.)
  3. Look at on my iPhone.
  4. Check my email on my iPhone.
  5. Scream at my dogs to shut up so I can go back to sleep.
  6. Lay in bed and stare at the ceiling for an hour until I can manage to fully wake up.
  7. Shuffle downstairs and guzzle 2 cups of coffee in rapid succession.
  8. Get back in bed with my computer.

When I'm on a show:

  1. Set alarm for 1.5 hours before I need to leave for work.
  2. Hit snooze for a full hour.
  3. Race downstairs and make coffee, start instant oatmeal in microwave.
  4. Guzzle coffee while taking world's fastest shower.
  5. Throw on random dress and boots.
  6. Drive like Mario Andretti to set while eating instant oatmeal out of a ceramic bowl and steering my truck with my knees.
  7. After eating, accessorize with random jewelry I keep in my car's cup holder.
  8. Brush teeth while walking into production meeting with a glass of water.

(Attached to this email is a pic of me with the chin strap, yeah.)

Helena: I usually don't shower or brush my teeth or wash my face or put on clothes until 2pm. But my day officially starts when I walk Miles to the Dunkin Donuts in the gas station across the street from me. They have my order ready every morning 'round 10am.

Mandy: Wake up at 8. Check email. Reply to email. Check Twitter. Sometimes reply. Shower. Contacts. Sunblock. Clothes. Hat. Practice deep breathing on train as I'm semi-asleep. Get to office. Dump stuff to show I'm there. Get Starbucks extra hot red eye soy misto to wake me up.

Somer Sherwood: When Oliver is here at my house: Wake up at 6:45ish, pee, drink a giant glass of water, wake Oliver up, feed him. While he's eating, I find clothes for him to wear to school, pack his lunch, then throw on some pants and eat something really quick, and then I take him to school. After I drop him off I come home and shower and drink coffee and all that good stuff.

When Oliver isn't here: Wake up at 7:00ish, pee, drink a giant glass of water, make coffee, make breakfast, check e-mail, pet the cat (that is not a euphemism for anything), and then at some point I shower.

Madeline: I wake up between 7 and 8 depending on if I'm at my boyfriend's house or mine.

At my boyfriend's, we usually wake up at 7, snuggle etc. until 730, then we shower and make coffee together. I do a bit of work on my laptop, then we fill our travel mugs, and walk to the subway at 8:15. I do very minimal "getting ready."

I get to the office by 9, do 20 minutes of work, and then head to the gym (2 blocks away) until 10:15ish for a quick but essential workout.

If I sleep at home, I wake up at 8, shower, make coffee, do some work, do my makeup, do some work, get dressed, pack my lunch and leave by 930.

Coffee is absolutely essential for me to feel like a human. During my commute, I love to have coffee with me. It makes it so much better. And I love to arrive at the office or the gym fully caffeinated.

Working out and/or having sex in the morning are also very good for setting the tone of the day.

Gala: I wake up, throw on some clothes, & my husband & I take our two dogs for a walk. I feed them while he continues getting ready for the day, & then the two of us walk & either get coffee or juice. I kiss him goodbye, go home, write a gratitude list (yes!), write a list of tasks for the day & then start working.

Julieanne: I roll out of bed at six every day. Literally roll. Sometimes there is moaning. I drink a spirulina shake and a 5-Hour Energy and then go for a run or to pilates at 6. Then I cover the TODAY show from 7-12 while chugging cup after cup of green tea, while growling and making guttural noises like one of those stray dogs that are legal to kill in Spain.

Occasionally I take time to cry in the shower, to jerk off, to cry in the shower while jerking off, or to cough blood into a handkerchief. Then my freelance workday starts right when I'm starting to feel really alert, which is nice.


So now's your turn, friends: let us know how you spend your mornings.