Nailing the Morning Routine for Back to School!

Thinking of back to school conjures up thoughts of manic mornings, school lunches, uniforms, drop offs, and more!  It’s a daunting prospect after several weeks of relaxed mornings.  But there are a few key things that will help ease the stress of those crazy school mornings.  Here are our Top 10 Tips to nailing the morning routine.

1. Ensure both parents and kids get enough sleep

Before the morning even arrives, it is incredibly important that your morning routine is established on a solid foundation — and that foundation is sleep. It’s no surprise parents and kids alike function better when they’ve had a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps children develop both mentally and physically and development varies at each age, so your child may require more sleep than you think. Creating effective night time routines is an important step to nailing the morning routine.

Tips to establish healthy sleeping habits:

  • Get enough sleep: Kids ages 6 to 13 need 9 to 11 hours of sleep each day while teens aged 14 to 17 need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each day. Work backward from the alarm time to make sure everyone is getting the sleep they need. 
  • Stick to a regular schedule: Try to keep your kids on consistent daytime and night-time schedules to help regulate sleep. Be sure to keep this up on the weekends, too!
  • Stay consistent with your routine: Create a relaxing bedtime routine free of electronics or TV. Reading books or journaling together can be great bedtime activities. 
  • Set the mood for sleep: Create an ideal sleep environment by regulating the temperature and light levels of your child’s room.

Get enough sleep

2. Prep and plan the night before

A good way to be able to sleep easy is to prepare as much as you can the night before. Whether you’re packing lunches or having kids pick out their clothing for the next day, getting things ready in the evening can help to eliminate that morning rush. Incorporating certain tasks into the evening routine can also establish responsibility for your kids if they know what is expected of them. 

Tips to prepare at night:

  • Pack lunches in advance: Sandwiches, snacks, and produce can all be packed up beforehand. To offer more choices, give your kids the option to throw in some quick additional snacks in the morning. Bento boxes are a great option.  The handy compartments keep things interesting for the kids and there are tons of simple ideas on Pinterest of what and how to fill them up!
  • Assign responsibilities: Have your child lay out their clothes for the next day, tidy up their rooms and pack all of the essentials away during the evening. If you have more than one child, creating a little game of who can get their things ready and organised the fastest can make them see it as fun rather than a chore.
  • Make sure everything has a place: Assign a box/hook/shelf for all of the school essentials so you aren’t searching for backpacks, shoes, lunch boxes etc. each morning. 

Prepare the night before

3. Allocate time for yourself first thing

Spend some time doing what you need to do before the kids get up.  It can be as long or as short as you like but take this time to get yourself ready, collect your thoughts, have a cup of coffee, exercise, read.  Just do what you need to do so that when the kids are up, you can assist them with a positive mindset knowing that your needs have already been met.  

Tips to make the most of your morning time:

  • Sip some coffee: Some of us are less than productive before we’ve had caffeine. Fuel up for the day while things are still quiet. If you're not a coffee person, green tea or just hot water with lemon will do the trick.
  • Relax and recharge: Stretch, breathe or simply lie in bed and prepare for the day ahead, both mentally and physically. 
  • Do something you love: Whether you want to read a few pages of your book or get in a quick workout, make sure you take time to do something that makes you happy.

Allocate me time

4. Wake the kids up to a happy environment

Make waking up more enjoyable by incorporating some small steps into your morning schedule. Some kids prefer to be snuggled while others like to listen to music. If your child has a hard time getting out of bed, give them something to look forward to by reminding them of a friend they’ll see or an activity they’ll do. Set the tone for the rest of the day by making sure everyone gets up in a good mood. 

Tips for a positive morning routine:

  • Play some tunes: Take requests and create a family playlist to boost the morning mood (dance moves always encouraged).
  • Exchange positive words: Ask your child what they’re looking forward to each day and share yours as well — no matter how small. 
  • Connect: Hug, hold hands, or give your child verbal praise to show them affection.
  • Remain calm and connected: When you feel yourself becoming frazzled, get down on the same level with your child and explain to them why you need their help in that moment and give them a task to take ownership of.

Happy environment

5. Fuel up with a high-protein breakfast

Even when your family is cutting it close on time, reach for a protein bar or yoghurt cup to start off the day. When you have a bit more time to prep a morning meal, encourage your kids to choose from breakfast options to strengthen their decision-making skills and give them flexibility in their routine. Make sure your kids are well-hydrated before heading out the door. Being hungry or dehydrated can cause kids to not feel their best and distract them during their school day. There’s truth to the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and this is especially so for your kids.

Tips for a healthy breakfast:

  • Go with high-protein foods: Foods like eggs, deli meat, peanut butter, and yoghurt are high in protein and can help kids feel full and focused. 
  • Limit sugary foods: Even though cereals can be a breakfast favourite among kids, they lack the fibre and protein that are needed to fuel us throughout the day. 
  • Offer fruits and vegetables: Bananas and apples are great breakfast options that can be paired with peanut butter or almond butter for more protein. If you have time to cook, try a sweet potato hash loaded with veggies.

Healthy Breakfast

6. No screen time before school  

Screens are a distraction in the morning and once your child starts, it’ll be hard to get them to focus on the routine and getting them out the door.  Make it clear that there is no screen time until all the morning tasks have been completed.

Tips to keep the kids away from screens:

  • Remove the phone from reach: If they own their own phone, take it out of the bedroom when they go to sleep at night and don’t give it to them until they have finished all their tasks for the morning.
  • Hide the Remote: Put the TV remote away so it is not in clear sight so the kids can't just automatically turn the TV on.
  • Be the example: Put your own phone away during the morning routine.  They are as much a distraction for adults as they are for kids and if they kids see you using your phone all the time, they will consider being on your phone is the norm.

No screen time

7. Stick to the routine

Depending on your child’s age, they may need some extra help to make it through their morning routine. However, kids of all ages can start the day off by making their bed. This simple task encourages tidiness, organisation, and discipline all at once and can trigger other tasks to fall into place. 

Make a morning routine chart for the kids.  Ideas of tasks you can add their chart, include:

  • Make the bed
  • Eating breakfast
  • Teeth, hair, and personal care. 
  • Get dressed
  • Feed the pet
  • Grab backpack/lunchbox
  • Take vitamins or medications
  • Putting shoes on
  • Turn off all lights
  • Head out the door

If you have younger kids use pictures instead of just words in your morning routine chart.

Once you have picked a morning routine for kids, go through all of the steps with them talking about each step as you go along your morning. This will help you recognize any glitches or perhaps the need to re-order some of the steps.

Throughout the morning routine, encourage your child to take ownership of these tasks and try not to do everything for them. It might be quicker in the short term to put their pants on for them but you will just contribute to a power struggle that you will pay for in time and frustration down the road.

Morning Routine from The Organised Housewife

Image Courtesy of The Organised Housewife

8. Make weekends special

It’s a good idea not to stray too much from the routine on the weekends. Continue to ensure your kids are getting enough sleep but you can enjoy a more relaxed pace by making a special breakfast or having story time before doing the usual routine like brushing teeth and brushing hair. 

Tips to making weekends special:

  • Special breakfasts: Have a break from the regular breakfast foods and do something a little special.  Create healthy pancakes and cut them into cute shapes or let the kids make their own smoothie concoctions.
  • Create weekend traditions: Find something you like to do as a family and make the weekends the special time you do this. This might be going to the local market or a walk along the beach etc. Everyone is motivated to get up and get out the door to start the weekend feeling energised and excited to spend time together as a family.
  • Family Time: This might be as simple as watching cartoons together or playing a board game.  Just make sure to set aside time to be together as a family.

Family Day out

9. Divide and conquer

If you have a spouse or partner home with you in the mornings, as the kids are getting ready, then plan out between you as to who will take care of what.  One of you might be in charge of getting breakfasts ready while the other wakes the kids and gets them into the shower.  Being clear and consistent on who is responsible for what will assist with the smooth running of the morning and the kids will respond positively to having both parents involved in their mornings and consistency in who will be getting them up, helping them with breakfast, getting them to school etc.  If you are sans partner/support for whatever reason, as your kids get older you can start to provide them with specific tasks to be responsible every morning.

Weekend Breakfasts

10. Expect things to sometimes go awry

If everything always went as planned, there would be no need for a morning routine. But as we all know, there will be times we lose things, oversleep, and simply can’t get it together. Just remember that your family is creating memories and spending time together in all of the craziness. So next time that shoe goes missing or homework gets left behind, take a deep breath — remember, you can handle anything. 

Tips for conquering your morning routine:

  • Expect delays: Build in extra time for any road bumps in your morning routine. Wake up a bit earlier or plan to leave the house ahead of schedule. 
  • Be flexible: Roll with the punches and rearrange as necessary. Make adjustments and remember it’s not the end of the world if everything doesn’t fall into place. 
  • Remain calm: You’ve got this! Show your kids that positivity goes a long way and that with each morning, you get a fresh start.

Crazy Mornings

The Organised Housewife has some incredible Back to School bundles of charts, labels, lunch boxes and more to help you achieve all of the above!  Check out her collection of routine charts on her website.

For more Back to School advice, take a look at our Back to School Tips blog.

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