Inside: 7 brilliant tips to create a stress-free morning routine for kids, plus free command center ideas, routine chart for kids suggestions, free lunch box printables and a free mindfulness for mom beginner’s guide!
Mornings can be super stressful. There’s no doubt about it.
Trying to get your kids fed, dressed and out the door, on time, could be equivalent to climbing Mount Everest, not impossible…but, almost.
(Not to mention it’s draining day after day)
Like climbing Mount Everest, when you’re almost reaching the sunny summit (a.k.a – out the door), kids have a sure-fire way of hitting you with an earth-shattering and surprise avalanche, that rumbles, collects speeds, and takes out everything in its path.
My mornings used to consist of me barking orders while buzzing frantically between tasks never really completing anything properly.
We’d had so many late slips the office knew us by name (and I was feeling like a complete failure).
But here’s the thing:
With a few simple strategies, we can rock this time of day.
Perhaps even wake up smiling, vowing that this week, you won’t make the walk of shame to the office. (Not even once).
And here’s the best part…
…this morning routine is tried and tested by this very mom….
…and my son is not so good at transitions and mornings in general…
Okay, let’s get to it, 7 ways to create a stress-free morning routine for kids.
Table of Contents
7 Ways to Create a Morning Routine For Kids That Works
1. It’s all about the night before
You might want to collapse into your cozy bed after what felt like a grueling 40-hour day, but whatever task (no matter how small) you can do the evening before will help your family get out the door tear-free.
Pick a few things from this list, you don’t need to be wonder woman and do them all.
- Set out and co-ordinate clothes and any accessories for the next day
If your kids are like mine and insist on picking out their own clothes (deep breaths and let the little things slide), then let them. But do it the night before.
Have you ever tried an over the door clothes hanger? #Lifesaver. You can decorate and label this one and set each day of the week’s outfit in the little pouch. Genius.
I also really like this over the door clothes hanger, it’s colorful and already labeled for you.
Check the weather network the night before so you know exactly what to pack in your over the door hanger, or if you don’t have a days of the week clothes organizing you will know what to co-ordinate and set out.
- If you have the strength, prep as much of your meals as you can (breakfast and lunch)
Our 30-day lunch planner is included in our helpful meal planner printable kit. Learn more here.
I’ll admit, making lunches the evening before isn’t something I’ve had the strength to do yet, for two reasons: 1) I’m exhausted, and 2) I hated soggy sandwiches when I was a kid.
But, if you can muster up the strength to pack lunches (or even prep as much as you can) the night before, the stress of the morning is guaranteed to be enormously reduced.
So what’s the bottom line:
If you can, do it.
“Trust me when I tell you, Little Bento is going to change your lunch game! This will revolutionize your lunch; whether you need to pack a lunch for school, day trips, the office, or simply need some inspiration for when you’re at home. You NEED this book.”
―Toddler and Toast blog
- Pack up the backpack (do you need splash pants? Extra shoes? Lunch money?) and fill out any forms
I’d say having the backpack ready to go is the one night before task I’d most suggest you DO complete if you want a calmer morning routine for kids.
It’s ALWAYS the way that when you’re one foot out the door you’re running back inside gathering last-minute items you forgot to pack.
Get the pack ready and then put your backpack in what our next big morning hack is the command center.
- Prep sports bags and prepare for any extracurricular activities
Before we get to the command center below, if your children participate in any extra‐curricular activities, prep their equipment the night before.
If they’re old enough, get them involved and hold them responsible for packing it.
They can use the family calendar in your new Command Center to see what activities they have during/after school and can plan accordingly (grabbing hockey helmets, swimming shorts or even extra snacks).
On the topic of preparing for your day ahead, have you seen the free Cozi app? It’s a surprisingly simple app that will organize your family all in one place. With shared calendars, grocery lists, reminders and more. Cozi is a 3-time moms choice award winner and the Today’s Show must-have app for a better life.
2. Create a Command Center
This is a fun morning hack I know you’re gonna love.
Create a master command center for mornings and for organizing your after school routine as well.
This is also called a launch-pad by some and it’s where all school-related stuff, like backpacks, lunch boxes, lunch money, and permission slips are stored and prepped. It can be a box, a large basket, or an entire wall of blissful organization (preferably near the door).
There are some absolutely beautiful command centers floating around the web.
Below are three of my favorites to give you some inspiration:
If you’re looking for more organization inspiration, be sure to check out master Martha Stewart’s – 13 Ways For Creating a More Organized Entry Way.
I hope some of these ideas will inspire you to create your own command center and look at you go, you are well on your way to creating a tear-free morning routine for kids. Keep going!
3. Wake up before your kids (a game-changer in creating a stress-free morning routine for kids)
This one is a game-changer.
You need to be up and at em before your kids wake up. I’d dare say… loooonnnngggg before your kids wake up…
But if you can’t swing it, even just 15-minutes helps.
Set a goal to be up, showered, dressed and have lunches made and packed (and ready to go in your command center) before your kids even open their beautiful, yet devilish eyes that flicker with avalanche creating capabilities.
And even better:
If you have time to spend 10 to 15 minutes of “you” time this will make your day and morning EVEN better.
On the note of sleep, this must be addressed:
Is your child getting enough sleep?
You might say, duh of course, but it’s amazing how many kids are actually not getting the proper amount of sleep. And you might not even know it.
Here is a handy chart that breaks down how much sleep your kids need based on their age. A tired kid might be unlikely to cooperate no matter how super amazing your routines and strategies are.
Don’t forget about yourself, check out 11 genius tips for successful sleep habits for you.
This one is my favorite.
When your kids wake up, spend 5-minutes just connecting. Whether that is cuddling, playing a non-stimulatory game (like starfish fingers in our best-selling Mighty Mindful Kids) or taking deep breaths or stretching.
When kids sleep alone, it means they are on their own. And this can make kids especially needy in the morning. By taking a moment first thing you can squash this attention-seeking behavior.
Many times when a child is acting up they just need some attention and love.
If you wake your child up ready to start the day in a frazzled way, your kid is going to be, well, just that, frazzled all day.
More ideas to connect with your child in the morning:
- Spend 5-minutes snuggling
- Hold hands while walking to the breakfast table
- Play a morning game from Mighty Mindful Kids, I love crazy compliment time where we take turns telling each other things we love about one another. (Young kids love this one).
- Put on Cosmic Yoga and do a yoga class
- Stretch together
- Practice mindful breathing – grab our most popular printable here at Mindfulmazing – 12 Mini Mindfulness Activities for Kids, it includes lots of fun breathing exercises.
Helpful tip: Be mindful of how your child wakes up, blaring an alarm might not be the best way for a little one to wake up.
5. Use Routine Charts
Young kids especially have a hard time switching gears. They can’t just go from brushing their teeth to eating breakfast to heading out the door.
If your child suffers from autism, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder or any other disability, transitions are even more difficult.
Switching gears which is necessary for the morning rush around requires attention shifts which require flexible thinking, something these kids and all young kids struggle with.
Young kids need time to adapt to the new stimuli of each activity or environment.
I recommend using a visual routine chart to help your child understand exactly what is going to happen that morning (and evening) and follow the exact routine every day. (Don’t be afraid to change the order of things though if they aren’t working)
Routine charts will address typical duties such as:
- Having Breakfast
- Getting Dressed
- Brushing Teeth
- Combing Hair
- Making Lunches
- Putting Shoes On
- Leaving for School
We have a morning and evening chart available here. Be sure to go through all the steps with your child before completing them so they know what to expect.
You might think a silly little chart wouldn’t have an impact on your morning (or your child’s behavior) but don’t scoff it until you try it, because they have been a gift from heaven for my high functioning autism kiddo.
If you’re not loving our reward chart, I recommend the following charts:
I’m also a big advocate for the first, then strategy. First, we get dressed, then, we get 5-minutes of playtime. And again, anything you can present visually you’ll get tenfold better results from.
Having a plan will go a long way toward making a peaceful and happy morning routine for kids.
And don’t forget to make it fun. Kids love silliness, ease, and games.
And lastly, pick your battles! Give control where you can. If your child wants a blue plate and you set a pink one the night before, GIVE THEM THE BLUE PLATE.
I have to share this amazing find with you. These genius cups from Puj stick to your fridge and your kids can get their own water. No more cups on the counter.
6. Use a Timer
Using a timer is another excellent strategy for having your child move throughout the necessary tasks to get out the door.
You just gotta get a time timer. This awesome little clock visually shows your kids how much time they have left to complete a task. Set it for however many minutes are suitable, and the time left shows in red. As the time counts down, the red area gets smaller and smaller.
THIS HAS BEEN A MORNING GAME-CHANGER!
It’s a great tool for toddlers, preschoolers, and even grade-schoolers. (Note: It’s also a great tool to use for screen time limits, studying, turn taking…I use my timer clock EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!)
7. Remain Calm
Remain calm and set a rule that you don’t pick up your phone and aimlessly surf.
If my son is having a particularly unfocused or defiant day, if I raise my voice, if I get frazzled, he gets more frazzled. Next thing you know, we are both climbing an emotional ladder until one of us blows (or the avalanche starts rumbling).
I’ve set a rule for myself, no matter how frustrated, late, or exasperated I am feeling, I behave cheerfully, calmly and positively.
It is my job to help my son through whatever anxious situation is causing his behavior. If I get anxious and angry, the situation is only compounded.
I’ve been there a zillion times, and remaining calm is key. If you’d like to peruse our free mindfulness guide for beginner’s it’s a great resource to help you start a mindfulness practice.
If you feel yourself getting frustrated, then whisper what you want to say. This will stop you from yelling and your kid will get a kick out of it, too.
Be sure to identify any problem areas. For me, despite all my efforts, we still struggle when it comes to putting our winter gear on. So I allow A LOT of buffer time for this part of the day.
I’ve also created distraction strategies for when my son gets frustrated with his clothes (see our awesome calm down cards here). And another thing I do is offer a small incentive that my son gets when he’s buckled in the car seat before the timer goes off. (A small treat).
It’s all about finding solutions.
I completely recommend taking Crystal Paines makeover your morning 14-day course. I took it and it’s been super helpful in fine-tuning my mornings. The cost is minimal and the value is incredible. Check it out here.
Give yourself a high five, this parenting thing is no joke!
Now collapse into bed and get ready to do it all over again.
But I promise, if you choose even a few items from this list, your mornings will transform right before your eyes. Create a routine and stick to it. every.single.day.
Soon, your routine will be second nature, and you’ll finally reach that summit and thoughtfully ponder the journey you endured to get there with a sweet smile of satisfaction.
What’s your favorite tip on this list? Do you have any awesome morning routine for kids’ suggestions to add below? Please leave a comment – I’m always up for adding a few more awesome strategies to make my mornings easier.
Additional resources you might love:
- How to calm an angry child – 55 simple strategies
- Anxiety management for children
- Tame school anxiety 7 tested strategies
- How to avoid the after-school meltdown
Before you move on, be sure to sign up for our FREE 12 Mini Mindfulness Exercises for Kids. Our printables are designed to teach kids growth mindset, mindfulness, confidence, and much more. Click below to make sure you’re on the list! Once signed up, you will also gain access to our entire library of free printables!
Tina Williamson is the writer and founder of Mindfulmazing, a peaceful parenting blog that guides busy moms and dads to tune into what matters most, and, ultimately, create a happy life! Tina shares strategies and advice for raising responsible, mindful, and resilient kids.
In 2019, Tina created the popular eBook, “Mighty Mindful Kids,” a mindfulness activity book that helps kids with focus, emotional regulation, awareness, and connection. This helped so many families (including her own) that she created several printable resources for parents, teachers, and therapists.
Stay tuned for Tina’s Amazing Me Growth Mindset Journal for Kids being published in the spring of 2021.