How To Create a Morning Routine that Works

Aug 18, 2022
How to create a morning routine that works

Whether happy or sad, the season of back to school is upon us. With this we say goodbye to late nights, sleeping in, and lazy mornings and try to get back into the routine of things. Outside of balancing homework and extracurricular activities, one of the hardest parts of school is getting out of the door each morning. Anyone else? I swear this could be an Olympic event. So, here are some tips to make your mornings go more smoothly this school year.

First, one of the biggest ways to make a smooth morning is getting as much done as you can the night before. I know it already seems like there is plenty with dinner, bath and bedtime; however, I promise the few extra minutes will end up saving you a TON of time tomorrow.

Steps for the night before:

  1. As soon as your child gets home from school, have them put everything in its proper spot before doing anything else! In our house, this means putting their backpack on their hook, taking out their lunch box and putting it on the counter, and putting their school shoes in their room.
  2. Check for any homework/notes/permission slips your child may have. No late night or early morning panics about that forgotten task! This also helps you and your child know how much of your evening may be impacted by homework.
  3. Have your child pack their backpack for the next day. If they had any homework/reading logs, etc. make sure your child puts them in the correct spot in their binder or folder. In addition to a smooth morning, this is helping them learn lifelong skills on how to stay organized. For kids with multiple subject folders and books, consider color coordinating for ease.
  4. Make their lunch the night before. Honestly, if we did not do this, I’m not sure our kids would end up with food to eat the next day. Our youngest also gets a snack time, so we make sure he packs his choice of snack (so we avoid him staring in the pantry for 10 minutes in the morning).
  5. Set out ALL the clothes. In addition to their top and bottom, go ahead and set out underwear, socks, and make sure BOTH shoes are present. I would hate to calculate the amount of time I have probably wasted previously searching for shoes when trying to run out of the door. Our kids have uniforms which already helps reduce choices, so this step is even more helpful for kids who get to create their own outfits.

Steps for the morning:

  1. Set an alarm for your child in their room. My oldest daughter is starting 5th grade and her response to the alarm clock varies. Sometimes she pops up and is fully dressed (these are very magical mornings!) and sometimes she shows how much she is like me and needs some extra help. But, we are still working on lifelong independence and this is helping her learn to wake up. On a groggy morning, this gives me an opportunity to give  some extra back rubs and kisses to start our morning out positively. BONUS – we use an Alexa for our alarm, which means we can easily play music. I either choose something funny (“Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain is a regular over here) or their current favorite song.
  2. Consider making a checklist of tasks your child needs to get completed so they can be as independent as possible. Post it in an area they will see regularly, such as the bathroom mirror or in their room. Rather than you finding them rolling around on the floor or staring off into the distance because they are waiting for their next direction (sound familiar?), a checklist helps remind them of all the steps needed to get out of the door. If they are not reading yet, use pictures! As your kids get older, you may find you need to add specific steps - like putting on deodorant.
  3. For breakfast, give a set number of options in the morning or have them decide the night before. Nothing is worse than wanting your child to eat, but then you feel like they stare into the open fridge while you try your best to wait patiently. For older kids, try options they can take care of themselves! This can also be an opportunity where they learn their own time management and ensuring they have enough time to eat. (We always keep back up options like a protein shake or bar if we are running short on time!)
  4. Consider a “warning” timer which goes off 5 minutes before you have to leave. Sometimes, even with our best planning, time in the morning can get away from us. Rather than nagging, this timer can be used to let the whole family know everyone has 5 minutes to do what they need before the car leaves the house!

This is a hard one, but I have found that one of the biggest ways I can help is to wake up with enough time to get myself mostly ready before waking up my kids. Typically, the craziest mornings are when I wake up late and feel rushed, and then find my own responses are not what they should be. From our kid’s perspective, most mornings seem the same and they have no awareness of when there is extra or less time. For parents, use these same tips for yourself. Setting out your work clothes, packing your own lunch, and getting your work bag ready will have you mastering the mornings!

We hope these tips are helpful to make smooth mornings where kids feel successful and parents don’t have to nag!

Have a great school year!

-Dr. Jordana

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