22 Tips for Establishing a Morning Routine with Your Kids
You’ve been there before: the dreaded alarm goes off on your phone, signaling that it’s not just time to get up, but it’s time to get the kids up and moving too.
After all, you have to be at work and the kids certainly have to hop on the bus.
What’s a mom to do?
Establish a morning routine!
Worried that a “generic” routine won’t work for you? Well, don’t fret.
There are a number of tips and tricks that can train the kids to get into the swing of things, and help you get them out the door in a timely manner.
Here are 22 of my favorite tips that have helped me, and will help you too!
1) Portion Everything
Packing lunches can take forever, but they don’t have to. Portion off everything in your pantry, fridge, and cabinets.
This way, you can toss containers or baggies into the lunch box and be done.
This also helps promote healthy portion control, and encourages meal prep for the week, which is also a huge time saver in the long run.
2) Pack the Lunch Boxes the Night Before
Even if you aren’t into portioning everything out, there’s no reason why you can’t pack the kids’ lunch boxes before the morning.
Are they in your hair while doing so? Then wait until they go to bed.
You’ll be less stressed in the morning and won’t be scrambling to get everything ready.
Yet, if they are in second grade or above, have them pack their own lunches.
There’s no greater time than the present to teach responsibility.
Be sure to glance at them to ensure they don’t pack a bag full of sweets!
3) Lay Out Clothes
This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the large number of folks and kids who just wing it in the morning and wear whatever.
Laying out clothes is very helpful, especially if you have a household of tweens or teens who are always stressed out.
This is the perfect time to do ironing, pairing accessories, and making sure all socks have matches and no clothes contain stains or holes.
4) Print Out a Chart
Once your child is in Pre-K or Kindergarten, they can start to get themselves ready for the day while you do. In order to make this process go smoothly, you can print out a routine chart.
The Simple Pen has one that I am in love with because it provides a visual cue, along with a command/reminder.
Your kids can check off or color in each space and turn it into you before hopping on the bus.
An added bonus? There’s also a chart for night time!
5) High Five
Not feeling a chart? Consider adopting a slogan to help the kids get going with their day.
The high five strategy is ideal from elementary aged kids.
Each finger and their thumb represents five key things they need to do each morning on their own while you are busy making breakfast or getting dressed.
They include: Make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, grab bookbag/lunch.
Or, the list can be totally customized.
6) Set up the Night Before
By this tip, I mean everything. Literally set up everything.
Place each bowl out for cereal, each napkin, each utensil.
Have boxes of cereal ready to go on the table so the kids can start to help themselves.
Coffee should be set up for adults, and all book bags should be placed by the door so they aren’t forgotten. It’s these little details and small amount of prep work that makes the day get off to a smart start.
7) Have an Emergency Breakfast Bin
Oh no, you slept through your alarm. It’s the end of the world and the kids are going to be late to the bus, right? Well, not exactly.
If you plan ahead of time for these little “emergencies” that pop up, they’ll never really be a problem.
Have a small basket in your pantry filled with on the go breakfast items, like breakfast bars, pop tarts, or bags filled with cereal and/or nuts. Kids can grab it and go, and adults can too!
8) Kids Shower the Night Before
If you want to make things less hectic in the morning, consider having the kids shower the night before school.
This is especially helpful if you only have one bathroom, or if many of you exit the house at the same time.
This will allow everyone some extra time to sleep in, and start their day off in a positive mood, rather than a frantic frenzy to beat one another to the shower!
9) Set Up a School Center
Set up some hooks near the door that holds your kids’ coats and bookbags.
You can also place a bench underneath them and slide their shoes underneath so everything is all in one spot, and they have a place to sit while getting shoes on.
This is also a wonderful place to store projects and anything important that needs to make it to school.
Adult’s keys and coats can also live there, making the school center a one stop shop!
10) Encourage Focus Time
Once kids are ready and are waiting for the bus, establish and encourage a focus time.
It should be a time where they think about goals, where they can study for tests, read a book, and start the day with a relaxed, clear, positive mind.
This is especially useful for children who have difficulty controlling their urges and impulses, and is beneficial for parents who need to focus on getting themselves ready for the day.
11) Don’t Stray From Routine During the Week
The best way to get the family on a routine and to stay on a routine, is to not stray from the routine.
This can be tempting at times because let’s face it—when you do the exact same thing every evening, life can seem like you’re in a scene from Groundhog Day.
But, keep in mind that you’re doing all this prep and setup for a reason.
If you need to be a little more relaxed, use the weekend to be more casual and leisurely.
But, once Monday rolls around, hop right back on track!
12) Involve Your Children
It’s best to involve your children when deciding on what should and should not be done in the morning. After all, you do want to listen to their input since they are the ones who need help and guidance.
Together, you can decide if beds should be made before or after school, when showers or baths will occur, and what kind of system will work for them in regards to picking out clothes, completing chores, and making sure all learning materials are put in place for the day.
Children who have a choice and a say in the planning process are often more willing to work through the established routine.
13) Have a Snack Money Jar
Place a jar out in the open, and fill it with loose change. Tell your school aged child that it is up to them to pull out the money they need if they wish to have a snack for the day.
This not only teaches responsibility, but reinforces counting skills at the same time, and they don’t end up bugging you for coins while you’re trying to get out the door.
14) Make Posters
Some kids dislike sayings or checklists. Some just need to be provided with visual reminders of what to do in the morning, as part of their routine.
In each room, make a poster that reminds kids what they should be getting ready for the day.
15) Start the Day off Positive
Kids and parents can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Especially if alarms don’t function or a key step in the routine is overlooked.
No matter what happens, you can ensure everyone gets off to a wonderful day by saying something they are grateful for, or by paying someone a compliment.
It helps hit the reset button when things get crazy, and teaches everyone to stop and smell the roses, because everyone has at least one thing to be thankful for and has one nice thing to say.
16) Get Moving
A body in motion stays in motion. Consider adding some physical activity to your morning to make everything go smoother.
Yes, the involves waking up earlier—much earlier. But, your day will be much more productive and you’re sure to notice a difference.
Even the kids will be more likely and able to complete their morning routine without a grumble.
So, go for a family walk, or stream an exercise video. Regardless, get moving!
17) Set a Back Up Alarm
Sometimes, trusting tweens and teens can be tricky, especially when you rely on them to set and wake to their own alarms.
Often times, they forget altogether, or it’s just tempting to hit the snooze and not wake up!
So, part of everyone’s morning routine should involve a back up alarm.
Place it in the hallway and this way, all members of the family will hear it and can look out for one another!
18) Get More Sleep
Are the kids giving you a problem about waking up? They may need to hit the sack earlier then.
While this may not be a popular choice among family members, you’re sure to notice a difference with their attitude and productability as they rise.
Also, keep in mind that screen time may disrupt their sleep habits, so limit technology use a few hours before lights out.
19) Make a Menu
One way to get organized in the morning is to take the guess work out of what’s for breakfast.
Set up a weekly menu so the kids can see what’s being served, and so you know what to shop for at the store and what to set up the night before (Bowls? Plates? Frying pan? Griddle?)
20) Weather Watch
Don’t let storms or cold fronts sneak up on you. Be sure to check the weather before placing clothes out for the morning.
This will help everyone be more organized and prepared with how they’ll dress and the outerwear that is needed for the morning commute.
21) Utilize a Calendar
Post a huge, write on/wipe off calendar on a wall in a shared family room, like the kitchen.
This way, every one is able to see it.
This will help spouses communicate who is picking up who after school, which child has a club or event, and everyone can note special errands that need to be run on a designated day.
This also helps keep track of holidays, doctor appointments—you name it.
The mornings are crazy enough, and often times parents forget about the day’s events because they are too busy making sure everyone gets out the door on time.
22) Make up a Morning Song
Toddlers and Pre-K kiddies may be forgetful when it comes to completing their morning tasks.
If charts and posters aren’t effective, consider trying a song to help them be more responsible.
Youtube has a ton of fun songs to peruse and pick from. Allow your child to make this selection since they will be the ones singing it as they get organized.
No one said parenting was easy!
And, it’s super difficult when you are working parents on top of everything else you have going on in your life.
You can make sure your mornings don’t get off to a hectic start by thinking about and implementing these 22 tips and tricks.
You will ensure that all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed, and you’ll have some time to not just drink your coffee, but enjoy it too!