Creating a morning routine is a healthy choice for every family. Yet, each family treats it with a different level of importance. And many of us don’t even have a consistent routine to speak of.
This isn’t about guilt or trying to make anyone feel bad. In fact, it’s just the opposite. We want to highlight the many benefits that morning routines can have for your kids, for their development, health, and future success. We also want to encourage you to take steps toward a pattern your kids can count on.
In this article, we’ll look at the reasons why being more deliberate about the beginning of the day can make a huge difference in your child’s life.
Why a Morning Routine Matters
To some of us, it may seem silly. You might be thinking, “Why focus so much on creating these patterns in our home?” Life is busy enough, right? Why add more stress? Well, because creating a morning routine works the opposite way. It works in your favor to remove stress, save time, ease tension, keep life organized, streamline your schedule, and create habits in your kids that develop self-discipline and character.
Good morning routines aren’t about adding more to your plate but removing roadblocks. It enables each family member to be successful in their endeavors. It encourages organization and ultimately creates more family time with one another.
The first thing to remember is that morning routines for your kids only work long-term if you’re following one yourself. Kids watch what we do, even more than they listen to what we say. If we’re not modeling the habits and choices we expect of them, they will lose respect for us and never develop a sense of value in the good habits we’re trying to teach them.
It All Begins the Night Before
This may seem strange since we’re talking about the morning, but AM routines begin with PM preparation. The night before is vital to setting the foundation upon which the following morning will unfold.
This is the time to prep everything that doesn’t need to get stuffed into the morning and take care of tasks that are better suited for the previous evening. In fact, if we wait until morning for some of these, we’ll only be stressing ourselves out and making ourselves late for the day’s activities.
Things that can be done the night before include:
Pack lunches in advance
Work with your kids to prepare tomorrow’s lunch together. Refrigerate perishable items overnight in a clean, solid lunch container while other items can be packaged up and kept right next to the fridge, labeled with each child’s name.
Fill Up the Car
This means a few different things. First of all, make sure you’ve got plenty of gas and your tire pressure is exactly where it should be. This ensures you can avoid unnecessary stops at the fuel pump on your way to school or work. The tires help you and your family stay safe.
Filling up the car also means packing up the car with any items not needed during the night. You should take precautions if your car is parked on the street. This is mostly recommended for those who can park their vehicle inside the garage.
Pack up any sports equipment, book bags (if homework is already completed), extra clothing for activities, snacks, drinks, items for dog transport, anything requiring errands, like packages for shipment, and anything else going out that doesn’t need to be inside during the night.
Forms, Permission Slips & Other Items
Make sure permission slips for school and other activities, along with progress reports, teacher communications, and other needed paperwork have all been read, understood and signed if needed, then packed and ready to return the night before. This avoids the madness of your kids running around, trying to get things read and signed last minute.
Additional items for extra-curricular activities, special school projects and events and other needed items should be organized, set aside in a designated place or packed in the car.
Assign Responsibilities for the Next Day
You can help kids prepare for a busy morning and give them the right mindset about the day ahead by assigning responsibilities the night before.
Whether it be basic chores like taking out the trash, bringing their laundry down, packing up certain items, feeding the dog, or something more specific to your family, it’s good for kids to know what’s expected.
Talk with them about personal responsibilities for preparation as well. Discuss the importance of waking and rising on time, specifically what time they need to be up and moving, who should get the shower first and second, what needs to be accomplished in their daily routine, any new tasks, and things to not forget like brushing their teeth and combing/brushing their hair.
Help kids choose outfits the night before. Work with them to prepare their clothing by cleaning and ironing items, then laying them out or hanging them up in a designated location each time. This eases stress the next morning when there’s already enough to do without your kids fretting about what they’re going to wear and exactly where that red sock disappeared to.
This nighttime routine or process makes the morning much easier by removing additional steps, creating extra time, developing life skills, and encouraging a positive mindset.
Give Yourself Some Personal Time Before it all Begins
Parents set the atmosphere and mood of the home. If you’re stressed, disorganized, and not feeling refreshed and happy in the morning time, your kids will fall into the same mindset as well. Wake a bit earlier. Give yourself a pre-morning, morning routine, even if you’re not a morning person. Consider the following for yourself:
- Enjoy time alone in a quiet room with coffee, tea, or flavored waters.
- Listen to quiet music as you watch the sunrise.
- Read a book or magazine
- Stretch, walk, exercise, or pursue another activity that both relaxes and refreshes you
- Meditate, pray, or simply relax, breathe deeply and contemplate life with ease as you let your thoughts stretch out
Help Everyone Wake Up in the Right Mood
Encourage positive family connection and fun even while everyone gets ready for the day. The way we wake up often plays a significant role in how we feel and view things for the rest of the day. Do what you can to facilitate a joyful, positive atmosphere with little stress and lots of fun. Remember these tips:
- Play upbeat or positive music to get everyone feeling good (let kids help create a playlist)
- Encourage dancing (it always lightens the mood)
- Spend a few minutes relaxing, talking with, cuddling, or playing with your kiddo in bed as they’re waking up. Often, it’s these intimate moments of connection, conversation, and play that really let a child know how much they are valued and loved.
- Play verbal trivia games or other lighthearted games to stay connected while you all prepare
Your Child’s Primary Morning Routine
It’s good to give any younger kids a fun, visual printout (routine chart), maybe one with pictures, animals, a fun theme like space, wildlife, underwater exploration, safari, or any other beloved theme.
Have them write both their name and the time they need to get up in spaces near the top of the page. Set up boxes, icons or images with titles for each activity in order and spaces to check each one off once they’ve completed them. Normal routines usually include:
- Getting up at a specific time
- Making the bed – (this is a big one: most highly successful people have a habit of beginning the morning by making their bed. It shifts our mindset from one of random chance and idleness to one where we pursue goals and make choices deliberately. It reinforces the idea that small things can make a big difference in life, that these seemingly insignificant choices and habits add up to a much greater whole. It helps us take ourselves and our day seriously.
- Showering or bathing
- Eating breakfast
- Picking up any items on the bedroom floor
- Practicing good hygiene: teeth, hair, face washing, fingernails etc.
- Get supplies together: For anything not done the night before – may include gathering homework, books, items for sports or lessons, house keys and anything else vital to the day ahead.
- Feeding the pet
- Taking vitamins, supplements, and medications
- Turn off all lights, shut and lock doors
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
While every family has different dietary needs or habits, focus on whole foods for maximum nutrition. Fresh fruit is always a great idea. Avoid sugary cereals and white breaks in favor of 100% whole grain cereals and breads.
Choose healthy protein options (either omnivore or vegan) whichever you prefer, and include healthy drinks like minimally processed 100% fruit juices, water, herbal teas, or milks (plant or animal).
A healthful breakfast gives everyone the strength, energy, and clarity they need to make the most of their day.
Independence for Older kids
Allow Older kids (junior high or teenagers) to manage their own routine once they’ve proven they’re consistent and responsible with it. When you have a conscientious and mature child, the last thing they want or need is to be constantly managed. After all, we’re here not only to love them but to prepare them for that very thing…responsible independence.
As they grow in maturity, diminish your involvement in their decision-making process to show you recognize their growth. This also shows that you respect them as individuals. Of course, always be present to help when they need it or simply want a bit of time with you.
The Importance of Good Sleep
While this seems like something we’d have mentioned first, we saved it for the end to stress how important a sleep schedule is for each member of the family, not just your kids.
We need plenty of sleep to stay healthy, keep us clear-headed and focused on activities, classwork, driving, work, conversations, and connection.
Remove distractions the night before and morning of by keeping screens and electronics away. Choose to read instead (with actual books). Play board games, spend time in conversation, take walks together and tell stories or share good memories.
Poor sleep can rob us not only of our productivity but of our wellbeing. Lack of sleep throws off our body clocks, makes us more susceptible to illness, anxiety, and depression. And it ages us much faster. Help your kids get the sleep they need with designated times, good pre-sleep habits, and time away from electronics. Then get plenty of restful sleep yourself.
A great morning routine can make all the difference in your family. It isn’t just the added organization or the stress-relieving qualities that come with it. Morning routines help develop your child’s sense of self, responsibility, ownership, independence, family connection, and focus.
It also gives them the tools and habits they need throughout life, which will set them up for success in many areas. You’ll find that, after a while, a well-organized but fun routine will be something your kids look forward to. And so will you.
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For quick answers to inquiries about morning routines, see our frequently asked questions below,
Why are morning routines important?
A healthy, regular morning routine, especially for kids, brings a sense of direction to their day. It builds consistency, responsibility, self-discipline, ownership, organization and family connection.
Good morning routines give children the early tools they need to maintain healthy habits throughout life, enabling them to keep their life in order, make clear decisions, have healthier relationships, and achieve more.
What happens when we don’t create a good morning routine?
We find ourselves at the whim of whatever comes our way. Whenever we’re not deliberate about our day, we get tossed around by events and accidents.
Disorder, confusion, stress, anxiety, lost time and missed opportunities are commonplace without establishing patterns like good sleep, fitness, morning routines, consistent work habits and mindfulness in relationships.
A morning routine builds a sense of purpose and confidence in our kids, allowing them to take on new challenges because of the patterns they’ve adopted.
How do I establish a good morning routine within my family?
It begins with you (and your partner or spouse). The first thing is to create healthy patterns in your own life for your kids to follow. If you’re getting sufficient rest, waking at a similar time each day, making your bed, organizing some things the night before, moving through your morning with a plan, and making time to spend with those you love, it will build the framework for everyone else to come along.
If your kids have never had a designated routine, start small. Begin by establishing a partial routine, where a few things get done the night before and a few in the morning in a specific order. Make sure they follow sleep times, rules regarding screen time, and homework and chores.
As time goes on, continue to add more to the framework. Create a morning routine activity sheet or checklist for younger kids and begin to establish greater structure (without going overboard) to the routine as long as it is easing your family’s stress, saving time and helping everyone connect meaningfully with one another.
Don’t use it as a way of micromanaging or controlling everyone and everything. That will just create conflict, exhaust everyone, and spark rebellion, anger, and fatigue. A morning routine should help eliminate stress and confusion, not create it. It should bring you closer, not push you apart. Every single moment of the day shouldn’t be scheduled. That’s excessive and unhealthy. Some things should be scheduled and organized for success. Still, all of us need free time, unscheduled opportunities to pursue whatever suits us in the moment.
Continually evaluate your family’s routine to be sure it’s a positive, affirming thing and not something that becomes a burden. If done right, it will free up your family for a happier, more efficient, and more connected life. .