A Morning Routine for Kids That Actually Works
Many parents dread the mornings, and for a good reason. The start of a new day tends to be synonymous with chaos when kids are involved. We’ve all been there – putting packed lunches together at the last minute, turning the house upside down looking for an errant shoe, frantically checking that everybody has everything they need for daycare and school. By the time the kids have been safely dropped off where they need to be, you’re probably so frazzled all you want to do is go back to bed. But that’s a luxury most of us can’t afford! So, the next best thing is creating a morning routine for your kids that works for the whole family.
Tips on making a great morning routine for kids:
Make sure everyone gets enough sleep
The key to a successful morning routine starts the night before. Think about it — if you don’t get enough sleep, nothing you try to do when you wake up is going to go to plan. The same goes for your kids. The better rested they are, the less likely you are to find yourself dealing with a full-blown tantrum over breakfast.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends 10 to 13 hours of sleep for kids ages 3 to 5-years-old, and 9 to 12 hours of sleep for kids ages 6 to 12-years-old. Figure out what time your little one needs to be up in the morning, and work your way back to determine their ideal bedtime. If your kid needs a little help drifting off, the Moshi app offers mindfulness meditations and audio-only bedtime stories designed to help improve sleep.
Prepare the night before
There’s more you can do the night before to make the morning less stressful. Make a list of what you need to do (prepare packed lunches, lay out clothes, locate shoes, jackets, book bags, etc.) and check off as many items as you can before you go to bed.
You can get the kids involved in the prep too, such as by letting them pick out their own (appropriate) clothes the night before. By delegating some of the decision-making to them, they’ll feel like they’ve got some control. This should help put them in a better morning mood.
As for all those school essentials you seem to search for daily (typically when you’re already running late), it’s a good idea to give each child a dedicated box or shelf for these items. Don’t forget to put any electronic devices in their charging stations. Yes, the phrase “a place for everything, and everything in its place” was possibly created with busy parents in mind.
Finally, do your homework. Check the weather reports to see if you’ll need rainy day gear. Check the school calendars for any special events that need extra equipment (there’s always something, right?).
Get up before your kids
Disclaimer: this one won’t work if your kid is a scarily early riser. Let’s face it — if you regularly get a 5 am wake-up call from a small person, you need to savor every minute of sleep you can get. But if you’ve got kids who stick to a more tolerable wake-up time, set your alarm at least 15 minutes before. If you’ve got time to have a quick shower, get dressed and grab a coffee before the rest of the house joins you. You can greet them with a smile on your face rather than bleary-eyed panic.
Make morning routine charts (and rules!)
You can’t go wrong with a chart of all the things your kids need to do in the morning. At the very least, it stops you from yelling “Brush your teeth!” every two minutes.
Here’s a sample of what you might include on the chart. This will vary depending on the age and stage of your kids:
- Wash your face
- Comb your hair
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- Brush your teeth
- Put your shoes on
- Grab your jacket/backpack/lunchbox
Younger kids who can’t read can still benefit from a routine chart — just use pictures instead of words. Be prepared to change the routine or reorder the steps once you’ve figured out what works best for your family. Like most things in parenting, there’s a little trial and error involved. Younger kids might need some help with some of the steps, while older ones can take on some extra responsibility. This could include clearing the breakfast dishes or supervising younger siblings.
While you’re in a chart-making mode, make a list of morning rules. This is about preventing problems (and arguments at the breakfast table) before they arise. So if your kid takes forever to finish their cereal because they’re glued to their tablet, establish a no-tech-in-the-morning rule. They might not like it, but they’ll soon get used to it if you stick to it. Consistency is crucial.
If you’re a total stress-head every morning, it will rub off on your kids, which will make you even more stressed. So it’s a vicious cycle you want to avoid. But parenting is stressful, so don’t beat yourself up if you find the morning routine getting the better of you.
Instead, take a few deep breaths and give yourself a moment to calm down. Explain to your kids, in a quiet and controlled voice, that you need them to cooperate. It’s a good idea to give them a specific task to do, like put on their shoes or get into the car. This helps to focus their mind while you focus yours. Remember, it’s not unusual for things to not go to plan. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world, though. Tomorrow is always a new day!
Wurley’s Happy Morning Meditation |
Give your students and children the gift of a good morning using Wurley’s Happy Morning Meditation. Through visualization of being a Twirly Tiddlycopter, kids are guided toward a positive and happy outlook of their potential for the day. By looking at colors and natural details of the world around us, kids practice noticing what is good about the world around them. A quick movement activity allows kids to wake up their bodies and fill them with happy energy.
Listen to Wurley’s Happy Morning Meditation and use our free, downloadable conversation guide to help kids reflect on the power of starting the day off with happy energy.
Encourage kids to write happy and positive messages on their Twirly Tiddlycopters!
Download our Free Activity guide and listen to the brand new Wurley’s Happy Morning Meditation, available in the app.
Integrate into ELA by writing a descriptive paragraph on how it feels to wake up their bodies in the morning or in science to study the physics of helicopters!
For adults – Starting the day off on a positive note has added benefits for all humans. Check out this article from Science of People for additional information on this topic.