Create a morning routine that works for the whole family
Mornings set the tone for the entire day. Eating breakfast, completing morning tasks, and minimizing stress are only the beginning. Implementing a new routine can feel overwhelming for younger kids. That's where a daily routine chart, a start feature of your Hearth, comes into play. Visualization and clear expectations will have your mornings running smoothly in no time.
A morning routine chart isn't a quick fix. It's a first step toward creating a reliable pattern for you and your kids to take part in every morning. You'll find that the entire day runs smoothly when it starts with a morning routine. Once you've established a kids morning routine chart, you can create a bedtime routine chart, enveloping the day in trusty sequences that make the hours between waking and sleeping easier for everyone.
Here are some of our favorite tips for a realistic morning routine for both kids and parents.
Start with one task.
Adults know how overwhelming a list or new routine can feel off the bat. Instead of diving head-first into charts and free printables, start with one task. This can be something your child is already practicing in need of positive reinforcement. Celebrate the start of a new routine with the smallest of first steps. Hooray! They've taken off their boots at the door or picked out an outfit with the help of the adults. No task is too small.
Pack for school the night before.
The best morning routine starts the night before. To make a morning run smoothly, certain steps should be taken in preparation. Try packing lunches together after dinner or filling up water bottles to stow away in backpacks. When kids have completed their tasks, it's a perfect time to transition into bedtime.
Wake up at the same time every day.
A tenet of morning routines is a consistent wake up call. If you've neglected formalizing a consistent wake up time, you'll quickly realize the benefits of waking up on a schedule. Every child has different needs in the morning. Try out an alarm, but don't be afraid to adjust accordingly.
Celebrate small tasks, too.
Did your kid remember to brush their hair without prompting? Was school work finished without asking? Take time to celebrate the moments of responsibility that come without you constantly reminding your kids. When building a routine chart, add a small tasks or two that helps bolster confidence.
See the week at a glance.
Routine charts are great. Even better than a single list for the day is intentionally giving your kids a look at the week ahead. That way, they can contextualize their daily routine chart in the larger scale of the week. Plus, we know anticipation is vital for kids. That's why Hearth offers an easy-to-use routine chart function fit for kids (or adults) of any age. Being able to countdown to the weekend or a playdate on Thursday after school is a huge win.
Eat breakfast together.
A healthy breakfast shared as a family is a rare, invaluable start to the day. For some families, this might be more realistic every few weeks versus every weekday. Figure out your cadence, and take the time in the morning to talk through tough times, listen to what's exciting your children, or just be together as a family.
Build a routine chart for kids together.
Every family is different. You might have a child who loves a chart with task cards they can draw from every morning. For other kids, dry erase markers on a whiteboard might make them feel stress-free in the morning. The good news is morning routine charts are completely customizable. With Hearth, it's simple to keep separate routine charts for every member of the family. If you're into something more analog, there are loads of free printable resources online as well as morning routines available from other parents implementing routines.
Don't forget a bedtime routine chart, too.
A morning checklist for kids is great, but the ideal morning routine starts the night before. Bedtime routine charts can feature all kinds of activities leading up to a great night of sleep. Try adding teeth brushing, reading a book together, or tidying the kitchen as a family after dinner. Hearth offers options for both morning and night routines.
Go to bed at the same time every night.
Just as waking up with consistency is great for kids, so is establishing a bedtime routine they can count on. Routines don't have to be boring. Maybe you all dance to the same three songs before taking baths. Your bedtime routine chart could end with lights-out stories in bed. As the school year presses on, finding a routine for the PM becomes even more essential.
Making brushing teeth delightful.
Older kids might roll their eyes, but for younger kids, learning to make time to brush teeth enjoyable could be key to a lifetime of great oral hygiene. Whether it's after breakfast or before bed, why not pick a song to brush teeth to every day? This is a simple way to make sure teeth are being brushed adequately while infusing a little fun in the task.
Incentivize some tasks.
Some items on a kids morning routine chart can be worth extra credit. If young kids find themselves with time before the bus arrives or its time to take off, offer tasks they can complete for some sort of reward. Maybe it's doing the dishes after eating breakfast or taking time to create space by tidying their toys. Whatever it is, these tasks can add up to special rewards at the end of the week.
Track your progress.
Not every morning checklist will go perfectly every time. Expect a learning curve as your kids build out routine charts of their own. When you take the time to track progress, your child's confidence will soar seeing all the tasks they've completed. It's also a helpful way to take note of what's working and what could use a little more attention.
Feed pets before school.
If you're a household with pets, try adding tasks like taking time to feed pets to your morning routine chart. Kids benefit from the responsibility, and it keeps the entire family, not just the primary caregiver, involved in petcare. Older kids might find time to walk the dog or clean the cat's litter on a morning routine checklist, too.
Hang backpacks by the door.
Optimize your morning routine by keeping the things you can't forget by the door. You'd be surprised how much simpler your mornings will feel knowing you can grab and go on your way out the door. Create a station for lunchboxes, homework, and any after-school gear to ward against forgetfulness.
Set a soundtrack for mornings.
Music has so many benefits for kids and adults, alike. It can lower stress, create a calming mood, and generate joy as the rush of the morning routine unfolds. Leave it to older kids to create a soundtrack with music they're loving. Routine is an endeavor best set to great music.
Sometimes, even a morning routine needs a break.
There will be days when a morning routine feels impossible. On those days, just eating breakfast will feel like a win. Cut yourself, and your kids, some slack, and know that a morning routine chart is a guide, not a rule. Focus on the evening's bedtime routine, and power through with as much grace as possible.
Don't forget to have fun.
Charts are great. So are the mornings when children complete them on their own. But enjoy the disruptions that color the years when kids are learning the power of a morning routine. It won't always be perfect, in fact, it rarely will be. If you can focus on the fun, the moments in between when the routine chart feels like the last thing on your mind, you'll find joy in the mess.