A morning routine for kids is easier to achieve than you might think
Even if you live in a house full of early birds, the chances of your morning running smoothly from waking up to getting out the door aren’t always guaranteed. Whether you need a refresher or are preparing for newly busy days, there are a few things you can do to create an easy morning routine for kids that will help prevent the wee hours from being a lesson in chaos.
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1. Make sure the kids get enough sleep. Simple fact—kids who don't get the right amount of sleep won't be thrilled when the light pops on in the morning. Check out this handy chart from the Sleep Foundation to see how much shut-eye your little needs on a nightly basis.
2. Prep backpacks the night before. Nothing beats the tried and true method of getting homework done and in the pack the night before. It means one less thing to do in the morning, and when everyone’s in high gear, it helps preserve the flow—and your sanity.
3. Wake up at the same time every day. Who isn't tempted to hit the snooze button once (or twice)? The best morning people wake up at the same time every day, so your internal body clock knows when it's time to rise and shine. Even if you love sleeping in on the weekends, your best chance for weekday morning success is rising at the same time every day.
4. Let the light shine in. Once the alarm goes off, open the window shades and welcome the morning sun. Our bodies wake faster in the light rather than dark. Have your kiddos open their blinds or curtains as soon as they wake up. If you're awake before the sun, hop out of bed and turn on the light.
5. Start with a power jam. There’s something inspirational about theme songs. Whether it's their current fave or a classic like Eye of the Tiger, just blast it at o-seven-early to rally the troops. Use the same song every day or make a playlist to rotate favorites throughout the week. Let’s get this a.m. party started!
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6. Set out clothes the night before. The last thing you need in the morning is your kid spending an enormous amount of time choosing between polka dots and stripes. Add this task to your bedtime checklist, and you'll save yourself the style struggle in the a.m.
7. Take up a collection. Every parent is familiar with those last-minute necessities that always slow kids down when you’re trying to shuffle them out the door. Shoes, jackets, backpacks… the items that often take a search party to locate. Collect them all in cubbies, baskets, bins or lockers kept right by the door. They’ll be the last things the kids grab before it’s time to go to school.
8. Eat in the car. Seriously. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But it can be hard always getting something nutritious in, especially if your kiddo is slow to rise or doesn't have time to finish their breakfast before the bus arrives. The solution? An on-the-go snack with lots of staying power.
9. Have a posted morning routine and schedule. Kiddos (and adults) work best if they know what's expected of them. Post a morning routine for the kids on the refrigerator, or hang a chore chart on the kitchen wall. Even if the routine contains simple steps like making your bed, brushing teeth, and washing your face, the act of checking the chart and crossing off the items helps every family member know what's expected of them and keeps the morning on track.
10. Make morning time electronics-free. We all know phones and televisions are distracting. Keeping the diversions to a minimum will help everyone stay focused on the tasks at hand and keep the morning focused on getting ready and out the door. And yes, parents, we're talking about you too! Put the phone away until the morning hours have come and gone.
11. Recruit the kids. Have you ever noticed how younger kids seem to be in awe of the big kids? Use that to your advantage. Find a responsible older child to be your kid’s morning buddy and hire them to wait with your child at the bus or walk them to school in the morning. It means more time for you and your kid will be delighted. Big kids for the win!
12. Give them five. A familiar concept from elementary classrooms, Give Me Five takes five simple tasks and associates each with a finger. It’s as easy as turning Thumbkin into the “get dressed” reminder and Mr. Pointer into “eat breakfast.“ By the time it’s Little Pinky’s turn, your mini-me should be ready to board the bus. Carry on with a high five after each completed task and it’ll be smooth sailing for everyone!
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—Leah Singer with Heather Dixon