Musings + Essays

How Do You Seize the Day?

By: Jen Shoop

A friend of mine recently confided that she must wake up thirty minutes before her children in order to get a grip on the day. If she goes from sleep immediately into childcare, it feels as though she’s chasing the rest of the day. I know what she means. There is nothing like going from peaceful slumber straight into separating a fight or cleaning a spill or retrieving that one game that’s needed at six a.m. that is just out of reach to give you energy whiplash — or a kind of racing, stressed-out energy that persists throughout the day. Mr. Magpie and I handle this issue differently, though: we take turns waking with the children. Every other morning, I get up when the thunder of feet presents itself at our door, draw the blinds in my children’s rooms, play briefly with the children, make them breakfast, empty the dishwasher, tidy the first floor, etc., while Mr. Magpie “sleeps in” for about an hour. The next day, our roles reverse. Those sixty minutes of alone time every other morning are heaven — not so much because I catch up on sleep, but because for one hour, I can sit alone with myself and read the news or scroll Instagram or text my mother or respond to the daily prayer circle or just lay, completely still, with no one asking anything of me. I wish I could say I use this time to do something more overtly productive, but for me, a gradual wake-up coupled with free time to ease into my thoughts, concerns, plans for the day helps me glide through the rest of the morning with greater equanimity and purpose.

On mornings without that pocket of leisure time, I often lean on my morning walk with Tilly to get a handle on the day (and course correct if I’m in a frazzled state). Of course, not all mornings are frenzied and stressful. One of the gifts of summer has been the lazy, unencumbered pace of its mornings: the children can sit at the breakfast table coloring and pajamas can be worn until nine or ten if so desired. But even the quieter ones involve demands and questions in tiny voices that can be challenging to tackle at an early hour. So on the days I find myself afluster from morning duty, I try to consciously shift into a gear that says: “Just go with the flow; focus on what you need to do; you will have time in about two hours to re-set the table if you need to.” Once our nanny arrives, I take Tilly for her morning walk and am able to clear my head fully. Sometimes, I use this morning walk to listen to an audiobook or podcast, but during this busy summer, I walk empty-handed and open-eared. It is a wonderful tonic to the noise and fullness of my everyday life right now.

I guess what startled me in reflecting on this is that I have devised strategies for “seizing the day” without even consciously setting out to do so. I can’t imagine how much more scattered I would be if it weren’t for these two built-in “warm-up spaces” each day.

How about you? How do you start your day on the right foot? How do you course correct if things aren’t moving smoothly?

Shopping Break.

+Creating a buffer between “work Jen” and “mom Jen” has been another wildly successful device in creating flow and good energy in my day.

+More on morning routines here.

+How do you find a tranquil frame of mind?

+When are you most creative?

Shopping Break.

+One of Mr. Magpie’s main grievances in the cocktail-making department is crushing ice — he always complains about how difficult it is (we don’t have a setting on our freezer that crushes for us). I just found this well-reviewed ice crushing bag! Can’t wait to surprise him with it! We’ll use it for a batch of these delicious strawberry cocktails soon.

+Another great Amazon buy: these striped towels, which I believe are the ones in the Pinterest snap I found above. I bought these when we moved into our new home last summer and they have been such a great buy and held up nicely for the price!

+I love these hand sanitizer sprays.

+I LIVED in an olive green cashmere polo sweater last fall — this navy one is now in my cart.

+Thanks to the reader who pointed out that Target did a collab with State and they have lunchboxes and backpacks at a discount from their usual prices!

+This knitted cardigan, in either black or cream, would be SUCH a great investment piece. It goes with everything! Layer over wintry dresses, pair with jeans, throw over the shoulders when wearing a cocktail dress, etc!

+These cream blush colors look beautiful.

+I love serving dips and bar snacks out of these scalloped ramekins.

+Patchwork is in this season (encore!), and I love this easy daytime dress from SEA. Get the look for less with this Madewell style!

+Loving this solid-colored rugby shirt from Kule.

+Obsessed with the pattern on this blouse.

+Another fun dress for fall. Into that hunter green color!

+J’adore this bag.

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2 thoughts on “How Do You Seize the Day?

  1. As a person without kids my mornings are spent sleeping in and then waking up. Sometimes I usually scroll instagram and check email. Sometimes I’ll pray a novena. And then get up to get myself ready. I need a better routine though as it is challenging to actually get up out of bed.

    1. Hi! I love the idea of a morning novena – so beautiful. Great way to ground myself before the day.


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