Mornings routines with kids can be hectic. Some kids are hard to pull out of bed, while others seem to forget every important thing until the last minute (I’m looking at you science projects). It can feel like you are herding cats until you lose your cool and your kids are eating a granola bar for breakfast as they run to catch the bus. Simply put, it’s not pretty. The good news is that establishing a positive morning routine for your kids isn’t difficult. It just takes a little bit of planning.
Get enough sleep
One of the most important things you can do for your kids in terms of having a smooth morning is to ensure they get enough sleep. This means putting them to bed at a reasonable hour and not letting them stay up late watching TV or playing games on their phone or tablet.
How much sleep does your child need?
The easiest way to figure out if your child is getting enough sleep is by how they act in the morning. If you have a kid that just won’t get out of bed, they are not sleeping enough. The same goes for kids who can’t seem to focus or don’t want to participate in family activities like eating breakfast together around the table before heading off to school. Depending on their age, most kids need between nine and twelve hours of sleep per night.
Keeping a regular sleep-wake routine
Kids do best with regular sleep routines. If you want your kids to successfully wake up each morning, stick to a routine. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day (even on weekends). I know. I don’t love it either, but consistency is the best way to keep that routine! Kids also sleep better when you set the mood so keep the lights dim and avoid screens (TVs, phones, etc.) for at least an hour before bedtime.
Our kids sleep best with a sleep-friendly setup. That means:
- Setting up room darkening curtains. These light blocking curtains are some of our favorites. Having less light in your kids room also helps younger kids nap!
- Finding a good night light. I know I just said you need less light, but we’ve also found that our kids need at least some light in their rooms. Out toddlers have loved these projection night lights. As the kids have gotten older, they’ve graduated to string lights. These lights are dimmable, have a remote, and our daughter loves having them in her room.
- Using white noise. When our oldest son was a baby we used a box fan. Now each of our kids has a white noise machine in their bedroom. We use the one below.
Set the mood: your Morning routing for kids
One way to encourage a good morning routine is by having a designated spot in your home for getting ready. This could be as simple as putting a chair and mirror in your child’s room or as elaborate as creating an entire “morning station” with all they need for dressing, doing hair, etc.
Have everything ready the night before
Another way to make mornings less hectic is by preparing as much as possible the night before. This includes:
- packing lunches and snacks,
- laying out clothes for the next day (including undergarments)
- laying out shoes and socks
- making sure backpacks are packed with all necessary school supplies
- filling water bottles
If you can get your kids in the habit of doing some prep work themselves, it will help reduce the morning stress and chaos.
Take care of yourself first
One often forgotten part of teaching your kids to establish a successful morning routine is having your own routine in place first. This means getting enough sleep so that you can be at your best each morning to help get everyone else up and running. It also means taking some time for yourself each morning to exercise, read a book, or just sit quietly and relax. One great way to do this is to get up earlier than the kids. This will give you the time that you need to have time to yourself, take a shower, and be present when your kids get up.
Keep it positive
It’s so easy to let the chaos of morning turn us sour. When we feel rushed, our kids won’t wake up easily, or problems pop up, we often turn that sour mood on our kids and ourselves. When that happens, everyone starts the day off on the wrong foot. But we can do better. Let’s talk about ways to keep mornings positive.
Find ways to connect first thing in the morning
Like bedtime, the first few minutes of your child’s day are important. Many parents miss out on crucial connection time because they are in too much of a rush to slow down for a few moments. Whenever you can, build connection into your morning. Give your child an extra long hug as they wipe sleep from their eyes. Pay them a compliment as they dress themselves or do their hair. Ask them about their dreams from the previous night. These little moments of connection will help set the tone for a positive day.
Start the day with something fun
One way to make sure everyone in the house has a good morning is to start the day off with some fun. This could be as simple as reading stories together, playing “morning” music, asking them what they are excited about, or having their favorite breakfast.
Make time for breakfast
Speaking of breakfast…breakfast is an important part of any healthy morning routine. But it’s not always easy to find time for it when we’re all rushing out the door. Instead of sending your kids with a granola bar on the way to the bus, an easy solution is to have breakfast ready and waiting for your kids when they wake up.
This could include:
- making a smoothie with fruit and yogurt the night before
- baking muffins or breads ahead of time so you can grab one on your way out the door in the morning (this also helps give kids something healthy to eat during long commutes)
- freezing waffles that can be quickly microwaved or thrown into the toaster in the morning
- keeping healthy cereal close by at all times for quick eating
- waking up a few minutes early to make toast and cutting fruit the night before
As you are planning breakfast, try to:
- include protein such as eggs, peanut butter, or yogurt.
- limit added sugars can also help your child’s breakfast to stay with them longer.
- add fruits and vegetables as part of your family’s breakfast options.
There are plenty of easy breakfast solutions that will help your kids start the day off right, even on the busiest mornings.
Create a Morning Routine Chart
Another great way to establish a good morning routine for your kids is to create a chart with specific tasks they need to complete each morning. This can include anything from getting dressed and brushing teeth to making their bed and eating breakfast. Having a tangible reminder of what needs to be done each morning can help keep everyone organized and on track. And, it’s a visual cue that can provide some positive reinforcement when tasks are completed successfully.
If you’re looking for an example of a good morning routine chart, I love this one!
You could also make your own! Here are some ideas to get you started:
– Wake up
– Get out of bed
– Get dressed
– Brush teeth and hair
– Eat breakfast
– Play or read quietly
– Leave for school or daycare
These are just some examples of things to include on your morning routine chart. Feel free to tailor it to fit your family’s needs.
Need more ideas for using a morning routine chart? Read: How to Use a Morning Routine Checklist for Kids (free editable printable)
Tips for success:
– Start with small tasks that your child can easily complete, and gradually add more difficult tasks as they get older and more independent.
– Be patient! It may take a while for your child to get used to the new routine. Praise them when they do well, and don’t get frustrated if there are some bumps in the road.
– Stick to it! Consistency is key when trying to establish any type of routine. If possible, try to follow the same routine each morning (or at least most mornings).
Mornings with kids can be challenging, but they don’t have to be chaotic. By following some of these tips, you can help create a positive morning routine that will set the tone for the rest of their day. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get to eat breakfast around the table before heading off to school and work.