Are your mornings chaotic, messy, and stressful? If so, it might be time for you to establish a better morning routine. Morning routines are helpful for adults, but they’re pretty much essential when trying to get children up, fed, and out the door on time. Kids’ morning routines are a great way to reduce the amount of stress in your life and get your day off to a better start.
Benefits of Routines
Establishing kids’ morning routines is very beneficial to both the state of your mind and the state of life. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, “Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.”
Routines help kids…
- Reduce Stress. No one likes to be rushed out of bed and shoved out the door. It’s stressful and often gets the day off to a rough start.
- Prepare for the Day. Having time to wake up, eat, get dressed, and maybe even play a little is a much better way to start the day do your kiddo can take on the world. It puts them in the right state of mind and allows them to run the day on their terms.
- Maintain Positive Relationships. I know I’m not alone in sometimes yelling at my kids to get ready and get out the door on time. While I know this isn’t a great way to be, wrangling people and being on time is stressful! My kids and I can stay on better terms and treat each other with more respect when we know our routines and follow them.
- Be Productive. When your child learns to wake up and get things done, it creates a confidence that can carry him through the day and life. Quick wins like brushing teeth and getting dressed are small, but important.
- Be Independent. Routines become almost mindless once they’re established. When kids know what’s expected of them in the morning, they will begin to complete these tasks without prompting.
- Be Confident. When kids know what we expect of them and do it, they become more confident and secure. Establishing routines and communicating them can help with this.
- Build Healthy Habits. As an adult, we know routines are important. We can set our kids up for lifelong success by helping them establish and follow routines as children.
It’s for these reasons and more that teachers rely heavily on routines. Classrooms would be chaos without them.
You can establish routines for any part of the day. Kid’s morning routines and evening routines are especially helpful, but after school and dinner routines can come in handy, too.
Creating Kids’ Morning Routines
Creating kids’ morning routines is quite simple. Sticking to and adjusting the routine to make sure it works can be a bit more complicated, but after practicing, your routine will become… well, routine!
Step 1: Make a List
The first step in creating a morning routine for kids is to make a list of all the tasks that need to get done in the morning. Keep this list as minimal as possible by taking care of as many tasks as you can in the evening. Reducing the number of items you need to do helps keep your routine simple and encourages success.
You can do tasks like showering, packing lunches, packing backpacks, picking out clothes, and checking the next day’s schedule the evening before.
Your morning routine should include tasks like getting dressed, tidying spaces, brushing teeth and hair, having breakfast, doing morning chores, checking a schedule, and getting out the door.
Every family will have different items on their lists — make it work for you!
Step 2: Estimate Times
After you create a list of all your children’s morning tasks, estimate how long each of those tasks *should* take to complete.
Here’s a sample:
- Wake Up: 5 minutes
- Make Bed: 1 minute
- Get Dressed: 5 minutes
- Eat Breakfast: 15 minutes
- Brush Teeth: 3 minutes
- Fix Hair: 10 minutes
- Shoes On & Get Out: 3 minutes
Notice I didn’t include packing lunches and backpacks? In our home, we do those jobs in the evening, which frees up at least 15 precious morning minutes.
Step 3: Figure Out Timing
Now that you’ve created a list and added corresponding times for each task, map it out for your morning.
First, determine what time you need to leave the house. When is the actual last minute that you need to be walking out the door and pulling out of the driveway?
Build your child’s morning routine backwards from your leaving time.
Add up the total time your tasks will take. Build a 10 to 20 minute buffer in there to account for tantrums, uncomfortable socks, spicey toothpaste, independent shoe tying and coat zipping, last-minute library book searches, breakfast dissatisfaction, missing the alarm… all the things that will inevitably come up.
After you’ve added all the times your tasks will take, plus added a buffer, use the time you need to leave the house and subtract the time you take to get ready. This is your wake up time — your final wake up time, not your first alarm time that you will then snooze three times.
Pro-Tip: If you’re a snoozer, figure out how long your snooze setting is for (usually 7-9 minutes) and then set your alarm for 1-2 snooze times earlier.
Our Routine & Timing
Our magic time is 7:22. I’d like to be out by 7:20. We can be out as late as 7:25.
Using my task list, the approximated times, which totals 42 minutes, and my ideal leaving time of 7:22, plus a 10 minute buffer, my kids need to wake up around 6:30.
Routine Trial Run
If you aren’t sure how long your tasks will take you, have a trial run a few days before school starts or on a weekend day. Instead of going to school, take the kids out to get donuts (bribery is your friend, plus it’s a great reward for getting up early. Time the tasks as best you can. This will give you a guideline to use for the different activities.
Step 4: Creating a Schedule
You’re almost done creating your morning routine. You’ve got your tasks, how long they’ll take, when you need to wake up and when you need to walk out the door. You can stop here but sometimes, especially at first, it can be quite helpful to match each task to a time and attempt to stay on schedule.
After practicing your kids’ morning routine for a few weeks, you can probably drop the emphasis on getting things done by a certain time.
If I were to make a schedule of tasks by time for my family, it might look something like this:
Sticking to a Morning Routine
Now, the most important part of a morning routine is actually sticking to the morning routine. Sure, there will be some days that don’t go as planned, but for the most part, you should make your routine a priority.
Avoid Too Much Extra Time
If you find that you’ve overestimated the time needed and everyone’s sitting around twiddling their thumbs for 10 minutes before walking out the door, adjust your routine as needed. Too much extra time in the morning can be just just as detrimental as not enough time in the morning if kids wander off to play. Dragging them away from a fun activity can make getting out the door harder than it has to be.
Make Morning Rules
Consider making some morning rules to keep everyone on track. Don’t back down from the rules — arguments make getting out on time very hard!
Sample Morning Rules:
- Don’t come to breakfast in pajamas.
- No video games, tv, or phone.
The beauty of a morning routine is that kids know what to expect and they can do it independently. Try to allow your kids to be as independent as possible, whether that means making a list and hanging it in the hall so they can check themselves, layout out clothes the night before, or making sure their backpack is at their level.
Total independence may not be realistic for your crew just yet, but as young as two kids can start getting dressed, putting their own shoes on, getting their backpacks, heading out the door. And remember — every painful minute of them “doing it themselves” will be so worth it later on.
The Daily Five
Author and organizer Morgan Tyree came up with a strategy to help her kids be more independent (and to help her not have to pester them) called The Daily Five, which she discusses in her book Take Back Your Time. The Daily Five are five tasks that kids need to do every day (ex: brush teeth, get dressed…).
Instead of asking each of her three children if they’ve done all five things items (potentially 15-20 questions), she simply says, “Have you done your daily five?” and they can check themselves. How simple.
Set Times & Be Strict (at first)
While you are first implementing your morning routine, I highly suggest that you strict stick to it strictly. You can loosen up a later when things become more habitual and less forced.
Setting timer may be helpful when you’re just starting out. Use the schedule you made and input the times into your phone for each new task. Build in extra time so kids don’t get stressed.
Creating Your Kids’ Morning Routines
Want to give it a shot? Use the free download below and go step-by-step to list tasks, estimate times, and create a schedule. There’s even a checklist page so your kids can be as independent as possible.
Ideally, you also have an evening routine in which your morning routine can feed off of. Your evening routine should include making lunches, prepping for the following day, and getting a good night’s rest, at a minimum.
Morning routines are beneficial to everyone in the family… The pets, the kids, you. Everyone. Your employer will appreciate you showing up to work on time and not stressed out. The kids’ school will appreciate you showing up on time. Your child’s teacher will appreciate them getting to school prepared and ready to take on the day.
August and September are the perfect time to implement a new morning routine. Use them to get the school year off correctly, to save you stress, and to set your kids up for success later in life.
Is a morning routine something that you struggle with? Is it something you use constantly and rely on? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a note below and let me know how your morning’s usually go.