How to Create a Morning Routine for Your Family

Morning Routines
Image via Momof6

One of the toughest things a parent does all day is getting everyone up, ready for the day, and out the door each morning. And for many of us, this is a stressful time—one that can lead to a lot of begging, pleading, and sometimes yelling! If you feel like you would love (just once!) to get them off to daycare, preschool, or school without feeling completely frazzled, follow these easy steps to make a morning routine so you can leave the house each day feeling calm and organized!

Image via Momof6

Step 1: Determine Your Timeline!

The most important thing about creating a morning routine is understanding the timing of all of the things that you need to achieve in order to get the kids out the door on time. So get a piece of paper and draw a timeline ending with the time you need to leave your home and work backwards in 10- or 15-minute increments. Next, working backwards, list all of the activities that you need to accomplish: get coats on, grab backpacks, brush teeth, comb hair, eat breakfast, prepare breakfast, get dressed, get out of bed. If your kids are very young and you need to help them with these tasks or even do them for them, then you'll need to make sure that you are available during the assigned times on the timeline to do just that! 

{ MORE: One Simple Secret to Great Sleep, Better Behavior, and Happy Kids }

Once you have everything listed, and you've figured out how long it is going to take, you'll know what time you need to get the kids up in the morning! (And be sure to leave a five-minute “cushion” in your timeline in case something doesn't go as planned!)

Put Your Own Mask On
Image via Flickr/ electrictuesday

Step 2: Put Your Own Mask On First!

You know how when you get on an airplane they tell you that if the oxygen masks drop you need to put your own mask on first before helping your child? That is good advice that extends far beyond the trip on the plane!


I know that for me, personally, I need to give myself time in the morning before I ever have to wake up the first child to do a few things that are important to me. I like to have the dishes unloaded from the dishwasher so that I’m ready to start preparing breakfast. I like to brew a cup of tea that I can sip throughout the morning. I like to check in on my email early in the morning, too. I need to allow myself time to do all of these things. Otherwise, I end up trying to multitask while also getting the kids ready. And trying to multitask in the morning when you are tired and the kids are sleepy, too, just cranks up the overall stress level, which can quickly lead to yelling. I find that my mornings roll so much better if I can accomplish a few things that I would like to do before the kids enter the scene.

Image via A Bowl Full of Lemons

Step 3: Give Your Kids a Checklist

When you are trying to get your kids to create a new habit, it helps to post a checklist in a place where they can see it. They'll learn to follow the new steps from the checklist. For younger kids, it can be a picture checklist that shows them all the things that they need to do and the order in which they need to do them before they leave the house in the morning. You can download some free printable checklists to use with your kids over at A Bowl Full of Lemons

{ MORE: Should You Give Your Child a Sibling? You Be the Judge }

If you put the list inside of a plastic page protector, you can even have your kids check off the items as they finish with a dry erase marker—you can just wipe the page down the next morning to begin again!

Image via Momof6

Step 4: Set Your Kids Up for Self-Sufficiency

If you want your kids to get themselves dressed in the morning, take a few moments to lay out their clothes at bedtime the night before. In the morning, your kids can just get themselves ready when they wake up. We have made it a house rule that no one is allowed to have breakfast until they have followed this step.  

Set up tooth-brushing stations for your kids where each child has a tray in the vanity drawer with their own toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss so that they can go right to their station and get ready. Make sure that they put their shoes in a bin in the coat closet every time they take them off  so you don't spend 20 minutes looking for the left shoe each morning. Giving kids ways to be self-sufficient helps everyone!

heading out the door
Image via Flickr/ woodleywonderworks

Step 5: Expect Delays


If you've built that “cushion” into your timeline, then encountering a delay won't throw you into panic mode. So when you notice that your child has on two different shoes or forgot their backpack, you'll have time to run back inside and make it right! 

It also helps to keep one eye on the clock and make sure that kids have fair warning that it's almost time to move on to the next item on the schedule. “Only five more minutes until we have to be done eating breakfast, everyone!” This will also help to keep you on track.

But when things do go off-schedule (and they will), just roll with it. Tomorrow offers yet another chance to try again! 

{ MORE: Home-Cooked Meals: Back to School Meal Planning Made Simple }

How is your morning routine working for you this spring?

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How to Create a Morning Routine for Your Family

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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