Tired of feeling rushed every morning as you shout reminders about shoes, water bottles, and permission slips? Ready for an easy, real-life way to make school mornings less stressful? In this post, you’ll learn how to create a morning routine for kids for school in 5 simple steps. Make school mornings easier, with ideas for kids of all ages plus grab a done-for-you printable morning routine checklist for kids (psst – it works for weekends too!).
do you often wonder how you can make your mornings easier with your kids? or maybe you find yourself thinking:
- how do i get out the door faster in the mornings with kids?
- how do i get my kids ready for school in the morning?
- how do i save time in the morning with my kids?
- or, how do i make school mornings more fun?
surprisingly, the answer is pretty simple. kids thrive on routines. yes, we also want them to learn to be flexible. but routines don’t actually prevent kids from being flexible. they just provide a framework to work in, with the consistency and security that kids need to learn how to do things on their own and be flexible.
so before we get into the “how to create a morning routine for kids,” let’s first answer this question…
Why do routines work for kids?
simply stated, routines work for kids for three reasons:
- routines help kids know what to expect. when it comes to children, less surprises = less arguing. this goes for the morning or any time of day (including chores).
- routines mean less reminders and repeating for Moms. kids don’t like us telling them the same thing over and over any more than we like doing it. consistent routines cut down on the need for reminders. as Moms, when we have less reminding to do, we can make our conversations more meaningful and more fun!
- routines help kids move smoothly from one thing to the next. it’s easy to see routines as strict, stuffy, or confining. but really, they are an easy, consistent way to move from one part of the day to the next. ultimately, a routine gives kids control of their time, showing them how to get the necessary things done so they can move on to things/have time for things they prefer or that are more meaningful.
the use of routines is backed by countless forms of research, some of which you can find here. additionally, if you think about your children’s schools – teachers have been using routines FOR YEARS! and if teachers are using them for their classes of 25 kids – they’re obviously on to something.
just think about the morning calendar routine, reading centers routine, line-up routine, routine for turning in papers, and routine for packing up to go home. when it comes to kids and daily tasks, routines are the answer!
so let’s get to it…
How do you create the best morning routine for kids (that works, is easy, and doable in real life!?)
here are 5 easy steps to put together a morning routine for kids for school. each is easy to follow and really, all you need is a few pieces of paper to get started. if you want some extra help and support, you can check out the School Day Sanity Saver Pack, complete with done-for-you routine checklists for smoother mornings and calmer afternoons!
STEP 1: Write a list of the main things your kids need to get done in the morning before school (or on the weekend).
remember, the point of your routine is to get rid of surprises so your kids know what to expect and can eventually move through their morning on their own. you might need to make a different list of tasks for each child. you might also need a different list for different days of the week, but try to make your lists as consistent as possible from day to day. here are some examples of things that might go on your list (in no particular order):
- wake up
- get dressed
- make bed
- brush teeth
- eat breakfast
- do chore
- pack backpack
- make lunch
- fill a water bottle
- put on your shoes
- do your hair
- practice math facts
- finish homework
Step 2: Add details to your list of main tasks.
for each of the tasks you wrote in Step 1, there are likely some mini-tasks involved. for Step 2, you want to think about the things you are tired of saying over and over and add them as mini-tasks.
for example, if you are tired of reminding your child to put on their socks/hairbow/watch/deodorant as you are rushing to get out the door for the bus, then on your tasks list, when you say “Get Dressed” you’ll want to add that underneath.
the same goes for “Pack Backpack.” if you have to remind your child every morning to add their iPad/folder/lunchbox so you aren’t schlepping it to school later, you want to add that underneath that task.
if you really want to streamline things, next to “Eat Breakfast” you can include what you’re willing to make each morning. for example, on mondays is cereal, tuesday is a bagel, wednesday is pancakes and so on. we’ve started doing this at our house (along with streamlining the lunches we pack) and it has made our mornings SO MUCH EASIER!
Step 3: Put your tasks in order.
after you have all your tasks for each of your children, put them in the order you want them to be done. for this step, you just want to rely on what makes sense.
for example, if your child often gets milk on his/her shirt when they eat breakfast, you probably want to put “Get Dressed” after “Eat Breakfast.” or, if you have two floors and you want your kids to do all their upstairs tasks first so there is less movement up and down, put those on the list first. finally, if you need your kids to take turns in the bathroom, consider that when you put things in order for each child.
Step 4: Take some things off your list.
remember, the goal here is to make everyone’s morning easier, with less reminders to give out, and a routine your kid(s) can follow mostly on their own. if you put too many things in the routine it will be complicated and you and your kids won’t do it.
so take a look at your list of tasks and see if there is anything to take off, rearrange, or move to the afternoon. in our house, each of our kids used to have a main chore to do before school. but then my daughter’s bus time got moved to 7:20. now, it’s difficult to fit in a chore before school so we moved her longer chores to the afternoon.
when you look at the tasks you have in your routine, you also want to consider your kids’ ages. maybe you take off tasks you wish they could do but that are still too hard. or you keep those tasks on but you write “with help” and “without help” or use a star with picture cards if your child is not a reader yet.
(psst – want some help with those routine picture cards!? you’re in luck…the School Day Sanity Saver Pack comes with printable and digital checklists, ready to go for you to start using today, plus picture cards for younger kids. you can check it out HERE.)
5. Make a morning routine checklist.
this step is VERY necessary. you can type this out, write it out, use picture cards, laminate it – whatever you think is best. but it is absolutely necessary that you give your kids a checklist or visual to follow.
think again about teachers and the way they get routines to work at school. they use checklists, color coding, and visual reminders. they know that this is the only want to make sure they don’t have to repeat themselves a million times and their students can move through the routine on their own.
now, as a parent, i know that even though this step is necessary, it is also the hardest. and it is likely the place where you will stop, or stall, or wait until you have “more time.” meanwhile you’re morning will continue to be hectic, stressful, and disorganized with people rushing around and forgetting things. i speak from experience, i promise.
the good news is, i happen to be someone who LOVES to make routine checklists (and checklists of any kind!). i also love to make things pretty and easier for Moms (my undergrad degree is in graphic design, graduate degree is in teaching).
because i know how VALUABLE a morning routine is for families (and that an after school routine is just icing on the cake!), i put together the School Day Sanity Saver Pack especially to make it possible for you to create a morning routine for school for your family that works, and that you can start using as early as tomorrow!
- starting your day off with slower, more peaceful mornings with your kids (that don’t leave you feeling like you just ran a marathon).
- afternoons where you feel ahead of the game, with less rushing, more time to really talk to your kids (and not just remind and shout directions), plus kids who move through their after-school routine (think backpack, snack, homework, and getting ready for activities) all on their own.
- weeks filled with less reminders and repeating yourself, and more energy for the things that actually LIFT your spirits and bring your family joy.
with printables (+ customizable digital files) dedicated to making smoother mornings and calmer afternoons the norm, the School Day Sanity Saver Pack has everything you need to bring more order and peace to your days (yes, it’s possible!).
Set yourself up for success.
now that you are all set with your 5 steps:
1. Write a list of the main things your kids need to get done in the morning before school (or on the weekend).
2. Add details to your list of main tasks.
3. Put your tasks in order.
4. Take some things off your list.
5. Make a morning routine checklist.
let’s discuss a few pro tips to set yourself up for success!
- get prepared. set things up in easy places so your kids can find the things that are a part of their morning routine. always have their backpack in the same place, teach them how to make their bed, have a set place for water bottles, a lunch making station, and maybe even a bin of socks next to your shoes.
- practice. use the first week to move through the routine with your kids, making sure they understand each step. then you can set them free on their own!
- wake up before your kids. i know, this can be hard. but if you can take a few minutes to yourself before your kids get up and start going through their routine, it will help you get your head in the right place to help them. if you’re not so sure about this, try it for 5 days and see what you think!
- make a checklist. yes, i am repeating this step. it is so so important and the only way you will be able to cut down on the number of reminders you have to give out. you can make it easy on yourself and grab the School Day Sanity Saver Pack on sale right here, or if you like making checklists you can whip one up yourself. make sure it is something your child can carry with them from task to task.
if you still aren’t sold on the checklist, know that if you use one in the beginning, there is a chance your kids won’t need it forever. they MIGHT be able to start remembering things on their own (and then you will have the checklist to fall back on if things change or they start to get off track).
- add timestamps to your checklist. if your kids are older, you might try adding times when each task should be done to their checklist to help teach them time management. for younger kids, having time references can really help, for example dividing your morning routine tasks into “before breakfast tasks” and “after breakfast tasks.”
Let’s recap on how to create a morning routine for kids for school.
routines are a total gamechanger for kids. among other things, routines help kids know what to expect, cut down on the stress of repeating ourselves, and help kids move smoothly and independently from one thing to the next.
to create a morning routine, you must simply decide what tasks need to be done, break larger tasks into mini-tasks, put your morning routine tasks in order, take out the things that aren’t totally necessary, and MAKE A MORNING ROUTINE CHECKLIST for your kids (or grab the ones here in the popular School Day Sanity Saver Pack).
once your morning routine is in place, you can look forward to smoother, less stressful mornings with your kids where you can focus on the things that matter instead of all the rushing and reminders!
OTHER MUST-READ RESOURCES:
Save Time Every Morning With This Easy Way to Organize Kids Clothes
Set Up a Sanity-Saving After School Routine for Kids in 5 Easy Steps
3 Simple Tips for an Easier Afternoon with Kids
How to Organize School Papers the Easy Way
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