If my not-quite-2-year-old even catches wind that we’re leaving the house, she’s over at our shoe tray making matches and delivering footwear to each of us.
I mean, she is on it.
But my older daughter… not so much. She is not a morning person and wakes up with Einstein hair to prove it.
But a few simple habits to help both of them function their best at the times that best suit them help keep our family functioning like a well-oiled machine when the time comes to get out the door and file into the van.
7 Ways to make mornings easier for your kids (and the whole family)
Mornings can be rough, especially during the school year when everyone has to get up and get moving much earlier. Sleeping in and staying in pajamas all morning is not an option for many families, and maybe not even the best idea for those that can pull this off.
The sheer chaos of early mornings can get the day off to a rough start, making the rest of the day a little difficult.
But if we can all learn to start our days with a little more finesse, it sets the tone for the rest of the day whether you’re a parent or the child!
Read more about finding better balance as a parent.
Lay clothes out for the week.
This is especially important for kids who don’t wear a uniform. Get your kids to lay out their clothes before going to bed or start a Sunday evening routine of getting it planned for the week. This also teaches them about planning ahead and preparing for weather.
For us, our kids wear a uniform. So if they don’t have enough clothing fo rthe entire week, it helps them prepare by letting us know.
Check out some of the organization options when picking out clothes for the week in the Amazon links below.
This is a great tip for everyone in the family, not just the kids; it will make your mornings so much easier.
Make sure your kids are getting plenty of sleep.
Tired kids create stressful mornings of whining, grumpiness and moving in slow motion.
To make sure everyone has a great morning, get your kids to bed on time (early if they’re feeling extra tired) so they can get all the rest they need. Make sure you calculate enough time for sleep to allow them to wake up at whatever time you need them to. In fact, maybe your kids are in bed by 7:00pm if that’s what’s right for your family.
And if they’re not sleepers or aren’t tired like my oldest, try to at least dim the lights and bring down the mood and noise of the house by a certain time to ease into bed.
Have them bathe or shower the night before.
This will save a great deal of time in the morning and allow them to get a few extra minutes of sleep.
And if you’re like us with only one bathroom, create a bathroom schedule that gives everyone 15 minutes in the bathroom in the morning to avoid gridlock.
Make a list AKA “Executive Functioning Chart” for each family member.
Create a list for each child of what they need to bring with them each day and post it on the fridge or near the door for quick reference in the morning. If they have an after-school activity like band or sports, make sure their extra gear is on the list for that day.
Help the kids review the lists each Sunday night to make sure they’re prepared for the week. In fact, we have a family meeting on Sundays and it’s the perfect time to discuss as a family what’s happening and what’s most important in the coming days and even have a perpetual calendar so we can see the year at a glance.
ALSO, We have what we call our “Sun and Star” Sun for the mornings, star for the nights. Each ray off of the sun and the star has a written word and I have drawn some picture too (because when we started this, my daughter was not reading yet). You can download our chart below!
Read more: Need more ideas to help during moments of family stress?
Check out our completely free routine chart and chore chart downloads.
Click here for a pop-up without leaving the page.
Plan & do as much as you can ahead of time.
Get your kids to put all their things together the night before including backpacks, lunches, stuff for after-school activities and any extra supplies they need. If there’s a lot to bring in the morning, go ahead and load it the car the night before.
Your kids know when you’re feeling stressed and frazzled, which usually causes them to slow down.
If you’re feeling rushed, calmly explain why you need your child to help and how they can help you.
It will give them a task, which will get them focused and give them a feeling of responsibility for helping out. If you’re feeling stressed, try to whisper; it will help you remain calm instead of raising your voice.
Make a chart.
Create a chart for morning routines with words and pictures to remind your kids of everything they need to do. Write things down including tasks like:
- Brush hair
- Wash face
- Get dressed
- Brush teeth
- Eat breakfast
- Put on shoes
- Get backpack and lunch
Once you’ve created a morning routine, go over it with them and encourage them to contribute by helping you think of things you may have forgotten because a stress-free morning routine leads to a great day for everyone!
Use a timer app
We love using an app along with our executive functioning charts. What is does is give a visual not only for what Jenn needs to do to get ready and in a timely manner, but it shows her a countdown of how much time she has.
We have a home cell phone. Meaning it’s used as our home phone, but it is a cell phone. On it we have a timer app called the Happy Kids Timer (not an affiliate link, just sharing because we use and love it!). I can set up specific tasks like “Feed Samson” and give it a ten minute time limit where she can’t swipe it away before 7 minutes is reached.
She uses this in conjunction with her sun and star and it has built urgency and a sense of time and routine in her. We started it when she was 4 and over time, it’s given her confidence many morning to not even use it, but still fulfill her morning obligations!
Download your free customizable routine and chore charts for kids
It’s 17 pages and includes a guide for how to use it most effectively. There are also several pictures, chore puzzles, and even contracts to sign with your kids. Yes, we even did this as young as three! It’s both written and includes visual cues as well, making the whole packet of routines and chore charts fully customizable.
Click the preview image to snag your copy today!
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!