My Morning Routine: Janine Hardy, founder of Family Merch

“I have natural afro hair (not chemically relaxed) so there are days when it can take ages to get right. If I’m having a good hair day or I’ve got my hair in braids, then I can be ready in 20 minutes.” Janine Hardy – mum-of-two and Family Merch founder – on mornings…

Janine lives in Surrey with her husband Lee and their two boys Grayson (Gray), two, and Judah (Jude), three months. She’s currently on maternity leave from her day job as a programme manager for a national youth charity, and recently launched her own business: a clothing brand called Family Merch that “pretty much does what is says on the tin: I sell fun and empowering merch that celebrates families.”

What time are you up in the morning?
I’m usually up around 4am with Jude for his first feed of the day.

And what time have you usually gone to bed?
Normally I go to be around 11pm. I say every night I’m going to bed early, but it never happens. Between sorting the kids, the house and Family Merch – there is always something to do, so I end up staying awake later than I’d like.

What’s the minimum amount of sleep you need each night?
Ideally a good seven hours, which sounds like a lot now I think about it. I probably get around four-five hours sleep at the moment. Jude is pretty good, he sleeps well from 9pm – waking around 4am for his first feed.

What wakes you up in the morning?
As I’m on maternity leave, I’ve ditched the alarm clock. Jude is a bit of a fog horn in the morning – he’s awake around 4am for a feed, so naturally I’m up too.

How do you feel?
Groggy and in need of coffee.

Would you describe yourself as a ‘morning person’?
I’d say I’m a morning person, just not 4 in the morning. Anytime after 6 and I’m good.

What do you first do upon waking?
When I wake the first thing I do is feed and change Jude, he then settles back to sleep for a few hours.

Do you incorporate exercise into your morning routine?
I do a buggy fit class once a week with Jude in the morning, apart from that I don’t work out. I know I need to, though.

Tea, coffee, juice, other…?
Coffee. However, I seem to be developing a bit of an intolerance to it which is freaking me out so the last couple days I’ve had peppermint mint tea which is okay, but it’s just not coffee.

Do you eat breakfast?
I’ve been trying to make time for food a priority (feeding myself has been a low priority) so I have been eating breakfast recently. If I’m in a rush, a bagel with peanut butter is the one. If I have more time, scrambled eggs with smashed avo and beans is my favourite.

How long do you spend getting ready?
The time it takes me to get ready in the morning varies. I have natural afro hair (not chemically relaxed) so there are days when it can take ages to get right. If I’m having a good hair day or I’ve got my hair in braids, then I can be washed and dressed in 20 minutes.

I normally have a shower in the morning. I’m currently loving the Sanex sulphate-free range. I keep a bottle of sweet almond oil in the bathroom and like to moisturise with while my skin is still damp from the shower, as it helps to lock in moisture. I then get dressed for the day.

Next is make-up. I keep this pretty minimal. Using a Real Techniques buffing brush, I apply Nars Sheer Glow Foundation, I then use the same brush to apply my Bobbi Brown concealer. I’m all about a defined brow and use Benefit Brow Zings. I then add a little mascara – I’m not fussy about the brand – and that’s my face done. If I’m going all out I’ll wear lipstick eyeliner, and I’ll contour, but not on a regular day.

I tend to do my hair last if I’m not wearing it in braids. My go-to styles are big afro puff on top, or big afro out. I like big hair.

How do you choose what to wear each day?
It depends on what I’m doing. If I have a day with the kids, I tend to go for practical things. My style is pretty casual; I tend to wear trainers most days, as I love being comfortable. I don’t tend to plan my outfits I just grab whatever is clean, does not need ironing and makes me feel good. If I put on an outfit and feel crappy or it’s uncomfortable then I take it off. Fashion should be fun and make you feel good about yourself.

Do you work at home, or outside of the home?
When I’m at my day job, I work from our office in central London but at the moment I’m at home so my commute is amazing.

If you work elsewhere, what time do you leave and how do you get to work?
My day job is based in central London and we live in Surrey so I tend to leave the house around 7.30 to drop Gray to nursery for 8 and be at work by 9.30am.

How might the rest of your morning pan out? (ie. before midday).
At the moment my mornings are centered around the kids while trying to squeeze in Family Merch work. Gray is up around 7 so I’ve started using the time between putting Jude back to sleep after his 4am feed to reply to emails, plan social media posts or design new products for Family Merch. That quiet time in the day can be really productive.

Once Gray and Jude are up, we are downstairs for breakfast and play. I put books and toys out on the table for Gray so after he’s eaten he can have some play-time while I do a few chores like unload the dishwasher or put laundry on. Some days the books and toys don’t work so Paw Patrol goes on. I used to feel guilty about this but not anymore. Women we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be perfect… it’s exhausting. We pretty much spend the morning pottering around either in the garden or the park until lunch.

What do your weekend mornings look like?
Weekend mornings are super slow as my husband is around and after a long week we just like to chill. He will often get up with Gray and I can go back to bed with Jude for a few hours. We rarely make it out the house on the weekend before 11. I’m in awe of families that do.

If you could design your dream morning routine, what would it be/include?
My dream morning routine would start gently at 7am with some quiet time to meditate and practice yoga. There would certainly be coffee and the dishwasher would magically empty itself. The children would wake around 8.30/9 and politely ask for breakfast. Here’s to wishful thinking.

Any other thoughts on mornings/your morning routine?
Try to eat even, if it’s something on the go – it’s important to line your tummy in the morning. I also try to carve out a little quiet time, when I’m on my day job I put headphones in during my commute and zone out to a podcast or reggae. Now I’m home I find my quiet time after Jude’s 4am feed.

Follow Janine on Instagram: @thejaninerenee