How do You Make Mornings Easier With Kids?
For a long time, I wanted to run away at precisely 7:00 am.
As a parent, you know that the morning routine with kids can go two ways:
- Calm, collected, and excited for school.
Or 2. moody, whiny, and downright hostile.
We had many mornings like the second type. As a result, there was crying – and not all of it from them.
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After all, it was our first year with two in elementary school, and we found that my middle child is NOT a morning person. Every morning was like wrangling a circus (but without the cool flying elephant at the end).
And, it took me almost an entire school year to transform our mornings. In fact, I vividly remember the week before school was canceled, excited that we finally figured this thing out.
So, as the new school year begins, it’s time to dust off the old routine hat. Here’s what finally gave us a low-stress morning routine for school.
Check out the tips, and see what works for you too!
10 Tips for Your Best School Morning Routine
1. Reduce Morning Work
First and foremost, A HUGE part of stress-free mornings is preparing ahead of time. It’s best to be responsible for as LITTLE as possible when those little munchkins get up. So, here are some easy prep-ahead tasks that can make your morning routine a snap:
- Set breakfast out for kids (or I make overnight oats for three days and have them ready in the fridge)
- Make lunches the night before or have easy freezer sandwiches they can throw in their boxes
- Do homework and set up their folders the night before
- Charge electronic devices
- Pick out clothes (for you or them)
- Check the weather for tomorrow
No need to do all of these! Instead, pick a few that make the biggest impact on the quality of your morning!
2. Be Clear on Expectations
Next, kids do best when they know what’s expected of them, and often, they can do more than we let them.
So, create something visual that helps kids remember what they need to do. We keep checklists on the fridge that have separate morning and night responsibilities. They know that they need to complete the top part before school (and that’s essentially their morning routine).
After the expectations are established, practice and rehearse repeatedly, so it becomes second nature to them.
Our morning expectations include:
- Eat and clean up their breakfast
- Change clothes
- Brush teeth
- Brush hair
- Make bed
- Pack lunch and backpack
It’s pretty simple! After school they do more (including a weekly chore chart), but before school is all about good habits and getting them out the door.
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3. Set up Your House Efficiently
When working on our morning routine for school, we rearranged our kitchen drawers to make a kids’ drawer that the kids could reach. It includes their cups, glasses, and bowls. This one task created much less work for mom and dad (and no more climbing the counters). Now they easily get their own stuff!
So, make sure that your house is set up for the kids to have easy access.
Can they get all of their own breakfast? Or drinks? Do they know where to put their homework? Or their backpacks? Is there a spot for their toothbrushes/hairbrushes?
These seem like details, but truly, they save minutes and hours of frustration in the long run. So, buy organizational supplies if you need to and be sure to have a “launch pad” area for everyday kid supplies.
4. Experiment With Wake Ups
Ah, this was the part I dreaded most.
At first, I let my kindergartener sleep later because she was tired after a long day at school. But I eventually realized this was a massive part of our stress. She was STILL tired, and we were all feeling rushed getting her out the door.
So, I did the opposite. I began waking her up ten minutes earlier, and our stress levels improved dramatically. Plus, it gave her more time to wake up at her leisure.
If your mornings aren’t quite right, try experimenting with different wake-up times to see if more or less time will alleviate any problems that arise. Often, you don’t know until you try!
Plus, try this alarm clock for an easy and more natural way to wake kids up!
5. Mom: Find Quiet Time for Yourself
Time for a MOM minute. And it’s ESSENTIAL!
I am ALWAYS calmer with the kids if I’ve taken a few minutes to center myself in the mornings. This may be a cup of coffee with a book, journaling, exercise, or beginner’s meditation. But it’s my non-negotiable sacred time, and everyone knows it.
So, do what works for you, but be sure to wake up early enough to start your day YOUR way. If your kids get up really early, have them stay in their rooms for at least a few minutes before starting the day.
Related Post: 10 Morning Habits to Conquer the Day
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6. Mom: Get Yourself Together
Surprisingly, this one made ALL the difference for me.
I used to work hard to get the kids organized in our school morning routine, but then I showered and did most of MY personal hygiene later in the day.
One day, I decided to take an extra fifteen minutes to get myself ready. I began coming down the stairs feeling lighter and worrying LESS about how fast everyone was moving. It’s exactly what I needed.
I believe that sometimes, as moms, we forget how important it is to take care of ourselves too. It affects our emotional and mental wellbeing more than we think.
7. Start With Positivity
Next, set the tone for your time together.
After months of stress, we needed to do more than turn around our morning routine for school. We needed to turn around our ATTITUDES.
So, we began to start our mornings with a six-second hug. It’s super simple. I hug each child when they first come down the stairs (before anything else). It’s a long hug because six seconds is enough time to release feel-good chemicals, and it signals to the kids that “WE WILL start in a good way.”
Truthfully, our hugs have diffused a bad morning more than once. And even if the morning does go south, you have done one thing right this day. Sometimes, one thing is enough.
We LOVE our hugs and will continue them indefinitely. But, if hugs aren’t your thing, begin with another positive action. State affirmations with your kids or have fun with high-fives. Do whatever you can to infuse a level of connection into your time together. Your kids will remember this!
Related Post: How to Spread More Positivity
8. Create a Rule
While we saw massive improvement with the tips above, some days I still had a terrible time getting my daughter out the door. She dragged. And dragged.
So, I finally created a rule for both kids: If you can’t get ready for school by eight o’clock, you obviously need more sleep. So, bedtime for that night would be thirty minutes earlier. We followed through with this a few times, and then it worked like magic.
*Another bonus of having a steadfast rule is that it takes out parent involvement (and decision making). They know that if they’re still looking for their shoes at 8:05, they’re going to go to bed early. And that’s on them.
9. Enlist Help
This is a simple reminder to us moms. Dads are capable of doing a lot too.
So, get your partner involved! Here are a few things that your spouse can do to help:
- Go to work late a morning or two to help with the school routine
- Pack lunches or get breakfasts together the night before
- Help with homework
- Take the kids to school on the way to work
- Be involved with homeschooling (if that’s part of the plan for this year!)
10. Try to Relax, Mama
And finally, ask yourself truthfully, “do I need to take a chill pill?“
I do. Often.
It’s not the end of the world if you’re late. Nor if lunch is made of crackers. Or their socks don’t match. You can try again tomorrow.
You see, I really like to be on time. But we were late to school sometimes while working on this morning routine with kids.
You know what happened?
My kids still got to school safe and healthy – which is all that really matters. So, breathe mama. Because, at times, we cause our own issues.
Related Post: How to be a Happy Mom: Easy Tips to Start
What is a Good Morning Routine Before School?
A good morning routine with kids is the one that works for YOU and your family. And it will change over time.
In the end, we kept working at it, and the tips above transformed our awful mornings into calm ones. We still occasionally had hard mornings (that’s life!), but these tips got us to turn the corner. And I’m implementing every single one again now that my kids are back to school in 2020.
What is your morning routine for school? What helps you stay calm and organized? I’d love to know!
Other family posts to enjoy….
- 11 Fun Back to School Traditions to Start Now
- The Best Ideas to Become a More Playful Mom
- The 2020 Fall Bucket Lists for Kids & Moms