Start Your Day With Morning Cartoons

Photo: fizkes, Shutterstock
Photo: fizkes, Shutterstock

Morning routines are an important way to start your day and launch your productivity. We talk about productivity a lot here, and for good reason: we have things to accomplish, goals and deadlines to meet. A few years ago I had a solid morning routine consisting of the standard grown-up fare — alarm clock, hot drink, workouts. It evolved to include mindfulness practices as my age and responsibilities increased, and subsequently became less of a way to set me up for a productive day, than something of a nagging responsibility in itself. By 8am I was meant to have dressed, walked the dog, checked my work calendar, cleaned my workspace, planned my day, meditated, blah blah blah.

And it worked, if by “worked” you mean it gave me a sense of accomplishment on the rare occasions I managed to fit all my tasks in. The alarm was a gunshot at the starting line, kicking off my sprint to carpe diem.

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More recently, I began working on a book. The subject of the book — cartoons and pop culture of the ‘80s and ‘90s — required me to revisit childhood shows I hadn’t seen in years. My general time deficiency led me to change my morning schedule to fit in my newfound homework: Every morning from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. I would watch cartoons. And it was, to say the least, unexpectedly magical.

If your childhood was anything like mine, you woke up to a world of wonder — not playtime or the promise of adventures at school, but the magic of morning cartoons. Do you remember? Can you recall your morning the lineup, maybe even the times your favourite shows aired? When I began building my schedule of morning cartoons I realised what I desperately missed was anything resembling joy at the start my day. I had forgotten the wonder.

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After I completed my animated homework — rewatching Beast Wars, Powerpuff Girls, Gargoyles, Doug and more — I decided to keep going. I’d watch new cartoons — Craig of the Creek, She-Ra, We Bare Bears, Haikyuu!! — to continue the feeling I’d stumbled on as an adult. Much like reading below your reading level, I found that watching TV shows that are fun and less challenging is a remarkable way to start your day with a particular type of joy — a mix of levity and nostalgia. Thanks to my routine of weekday morning cartoons, I found my mornings looked just a little bit brighter.

An unexpected pleasure also came from experiencing old cartoons with mature eyes. Some had aged exceptionally well, exploring themes I didn’t — and likely couldn’t — catch as a child. Others… well, Street Sharks didn’t get any better; “they are who we thought they were,” to quote coach Dennis Green’s famous 2006 rant. But they all bought me happiness at little cost, the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series begging for my full attention while the worst episodes of Exosquad played against the background of the rest of my morning routine.

So what was your favourite childhood cartoon? What gave you that sense of adventure when you’d watch before school? Chances are episodes of it are available on YouTube or via a subscription streaming service. Give yourself permission to wake up and shirk your responsibilities for half an hour. That sense of adventure? It’ll hit you all the same. If you find your mornings are rough, or just want to start your day a bit happier, start with a cartoon, old or new. Accomplishments can wait till after — you’ll work better when you feel a little happier anyway.