What is a good day routine for kids?
Looking for a daily kids routine that teaches good habits and saves your sanity at the same time? You’re in the right place! This simple 3 step process has been a HUGE help in our home. My kids now…
- consistently do chores – without nagging, fighting, or lots of discussion
- no longer have to be coerced into the bathroom to brush their teeth
- get ready for school (or outings) with very little parent help
- understand that pitching in is just part of our family life
But a good daily kids routine has other benefits too.
Routines help children know what to expect and feel safe. When you’re on a consistent routine, you reduce stress because your household runs with fewer hiccups. Plus, the habits within them teach valuable life skills.
And the great part is that a daily routine for kids is customizable to fit any home. Whether your children are with you all day, or you’re looking for morning and after-school routine help, you can make a routine that works for you!
How do I make a daily routine for kids?
You might be thinking…cool, I’m in. But HOW do I actually go about making one?
Here’s the easy system that works for us. Trust me, if it works for my squirrely kids, it will work for yours too.
Step 1. Decide on Weekly Chores
First, before we even get to the daily kids routine, we need to make sure each child has an assigned chore for each weekday.
So, grab a piece of paper or this free chore template chart and make your list of chores for each child. Here are the chore assignments for my 10-year-old kid.
Monday = Help clean up dinner
Tuesday = Pick up the living room
Wednesday = Unload the dishwasher
Thursday = Vacuum or sweep (usually it’s vacuuming the living room rug or sweeping under our breakfast chairs)
Friday = Clear kitchen counter and entryways
*See this list of kids chores for more ideas by age and go with what needs to be done on a regular basis in your home. Remember, you can always modify this later.
Note: You can also make Friday a "mom or dad picks" day if you want to use that day to clean up unexpected messes. It does add a layer of involvement and decision making on the parent's part though.
Step 2. Use the Daily Routine Chart for Kids
Now, the fun part! We like to use a routine chart/checklist to do the heavy lifting for us and our daily routine for kids.
This simple checklist includes a spot for their daily chore (step 1) along with good kids habits and what they need to do to get ready for school in the mornings on their own.
Now, if you’re making your own daily kids routine, check out these examples:
Daily Routine for Toddlers:
First, here’s a great example of a kids routine for toddlers. I give a full day of times here too, for if you like to be more structured.
7:00 am: Get clothes on
7:30 am: Eat breakfast and put the bowl in the sink
8:00 am: Brush teeth and brush hair
8:30 am: Inside Play
9:30 am: Structured learning time (busy activities, coloring, etc.)
10:30 am: Outside play or outing (library, park, playdate, etc.)
11:30 am: Lunch
12:30 pm: Pick up toys and lunch
1:00 pm: Nap
3:00 pm: Play
4:00 pm: Tv time
5:30 pm: Dinner
7:45 pm: Bedtime stories for toddlers and other wind-down rituals
Of course, every routine looks different and depends on whether your child is in preschool or daycare, whether it’s during a school break, and what season of the year it is.
Example Daily Routine for Older Kids:
Older kids are usually in school, so you can separate kids’ daily routine into sections if you’d like. Here’s an example with good kids habits.
7:00 Change clothes
7:15 Make and eat breakfast. Put away dishes
7:30 Brush teeth and hair
7:45 Pack backpack (get ipads, snack, water), pack lunch if needed
8:00 Leave for school
3:50: Do chore (See step #1)
4:00: Empty lunch box
4:10 Do homework (or reading, spelling, sight words, regular timed study)
4:45 Charge Ipad
8:00 Pajamas and brush teeth (devices off)
8:10 Reading in bed (or more homework time for teens)
9:00 Good night rituals (prayers, songs, hugs, etc.)
Tips for Your Daily Routine for Kids
Now, a routine is wonderful! But you’ll quickly find that what works with your family will vary (and change with time). So, be sure to read these tips!
Use Pictures for Smaller Kids
Young ones can’t read, but they still want to feel independent. So, if you have a child at kindergarten age or younger, make sure their routine tasks have pictures so they know what to do next.
Let Older Kids Help Pick
Big kids are more invested if they can help you make the daily routine schedule. I’ve seen this in my own children. They want some control over how their day goes too, so it’s a great tool to keep them engaged and motivated.
We’ve tried set times on our daily kids routine, and we’ve also done it without times.
What I’ve found is that as much as I’d like to be “on a schedule,” it’s nearly impossible to be rigid with three kids. Something ALWAYS pops up, and then you’re just pulling out your hair because you are way off schedule. It’s a setup for frustration.
That’s why, if you have multiple kids, I recommend loose times, or just giving them the checklist and letting them do it at their own pace (over a set period of time).
Leave Open Space
Next, if your daily kids routine covers the entire day, make sure you have space for free time and creative time too. Those are just as important but can be easy to overlook.
You Will Need to Adapt the Daily Kids Routine
Toddlers and teenagers especially will require some tweaking to get your routine just right. You also may find that some habits or chores are more important to you than others. Don’t be afraid to keep tweaking.
*We like having a “school day” routine and an “on breaks” routine. You can see the different templates in the Routine Pack here>>
Step 3. Give a Reward
A reward is important because this is what gets kids to DO the daily routine. Every. Single. Time.
Kids don’t see the benefit of these habits and chores yet. So, they need something juicy to keep them going. What motivates your kids? Is it screen time? Money? Friend time?
You can find amazing reward ideas for kids and teens here. If you have an older child, it’s fun to decide together too.
That’s it! Follow through on the three steps and then you’re ready to turn your kids into go-getters!
Q & As about a Daily Routine for Kids
Here are 3 common questions about a daily children’s routine. They can help immensely with troubleshooting issues.
1. How do you know what reward works best? And how often should you reward?
When I started the daily routine for my own kids, I did it for an allowance so that I could also teach money management. What I found was that money didn’t motivate them at ALL. They didn’t care and I could never keep track.
What DID work was Saturday afternoon electronics time. If they get their routines done through the week, then they are able to do that – and we’ve kept this reward for years now. If we need the extra boost of a daily reward, then I tell them they have to be finished before they can play outside with friends.
Now, this is what works for my family, but it may not work for yours – everyone is different.
How often you reward should also be determined by how motivated your kids are. If you need the extra push, start with daily rewards and then span out to one weekly reward later.
2. What if I’m struggling to follow through?
I get it. Life gets in the way. There are some weeks when their chores get left behind and my kids finish them on Saturday right before their screens. But that’s ok, because it’s still getting done.
So, first ease up on yourself. Remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be consistent.
And second, if you’re struggling to follow through, set phone reminders (so you don’t forget) and then set a good reward for yourself after a week of following through. (Rewards work for adults too!)
Most of the time, these small actions are all it takes to transform your momentum.
3. What happens when the kids push back?
Let’s face it: kids test you! They complain. They whine. They challenge.
My kids haven’t done this in a while (for our routine at least) because it’s so automatic to them.
But when they do, I tell them they don’t HAVE to complete their checklists at all. They always have the choice not to complete them. They just won’t get their reward if they choose not to.
This freedom to choose ends all our arguments. So, give it a shot in your home too. If they really want the reward, they’ll let it go.
Where Else Can You Use a System?
This is just one example of why systems are amazing for structuring the day-to-day tasks in your life. When you have kids, things get complicated. There are a million things to remember! So, simplify and alleviate that mental overload wherever you can!
Then, how else could a system benefit you? It’s time to do some brainstorming!
Perhaps you need your own adult system? Or more structure when it comes to your own routines? Or a family system for papers or meals? The possibilities are endless!
To Consider With Your Routines For Children
The kids have learned so many useful life skills since we started this. And as a parent, I’m also better able to focus on my own work and relax because my kids can take care of themselves. It’s a HUGE win-win for everyone!
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