Morning Routines for Kids (and adults...)
How many times have you been late taking your kids to school because of some mishap? Your child can’t find their homework, their shoes, their favorite Spiderman lunchbox, their favorite doll for show and tell or any number of similar catastrophic emergencies. You are laughing right now, but you know I am right. They are emergencies…to your child. To your child that is all that matters right now and it is utterly important to them right now. This is the very reason that morning routines are so vital in the life of a family. Whether your kids don’t even go to school yet, they are homeschooled, or they go to a school building, having a morning routine can be the difference between utter chaos and total stress or a calm, smooth morning that works like a well oiled machine.
In order to do this well, you will need a General Morning Routine and then an Activity Specific Morning Routine for regularly occurring events. If you think about it, your kids will wake up approximately 365 days this year and you are going to want them to brush their teeth all 365 days. Why not create a routine for them to follow that has that task as well as every other task that you really deem as important each and every morning. In addition, your kids are going to go to school approximately 180 days this school year, whether in the home or outside of the home. That is 180 times in the next 12 months that you and your family are going to go through the same basic motions to get them ready and out the door or into the room where you do school. Why not have a routine in place rather than leave things to chance.
General Morning Routine
While this might seem intuitive to adults it is most definitely not intuitive to children. They don’t usually care if they brush their teeth. They don’t think ahead to putting on shoes until you say, “It’s time to go, why don’t you have your shoes on?” and they don’t even remember that it is winter and 30 degrees out until you are all sitting in the car while it is warming up and then they realize they are cold. Kids are programmed to think in the here and now and very concretely. Thinking ahead as to what they might need in the future is an abstract thinking process that they are not equipped to do until about age twelve.
Each family’s General Morning Routine will be different than another’s but there will be many things in common. Really what you need to do is take notice over the course of a week of the things that your kids need to do. (By the way this applies to adults too!) Once you have compiled a list of tasks that they do each morning, or should do each morning, then you need to create a check-list. You need to include basic things like: brush your teeth, brush your hair, make your bed, clean up your room, but then also things like feed the cat, milk the goat (I know someone reading this will have a farm), take out the garbage on garbage pick up day, take your medicine, and practice your violin. Obviously everyone’s will be different. You may be looking at that list right now thinking; “I would never ask my child to get up early in the morning to practice the violin. We do that practice after school.” And that is ok. Those are exactly the reasons you need to make it personal to your family’s routine.
Event Specific Morning Routines
The same principles apply here but for a specific event that you do regularly like go to school, church, or soccer practices and games. These regular routine things happen too often for you to use extra brainpower to keep your mental check-list in your head when you could create a checklist so you don’t have to remember.
Here are some examples to get you thinking about items on a check list so your child can gather most of the things needed for their event ready ahead of time:
School: Get homework and school books from the designated place where they are located from the night before, get any permission slips, back pack, rain coat or winter coat, lunch box, money for lunch, money for the fieldtrip, signed report card, science project, the big paper they have been working on for weeks, PE clothes, sports equipment of clothes for sports teams after school, meds if self medicated or to give to the campus nurse….
Church: Bible, jacket, Awana book, SS homework, permission slip for youth event, money to turn in for the youth event, tithe money…
Routine Sporting practice and games: Clean uniform, correct shoes, other padding, equipment, portable chair, cooler, drinks or water bottles, snacks, money for entrance, permission slip to ride with another parent….
Have I mentioned yet that this same system applies to adults too? Eventually routines become…well... routine…such that eventually they (or you) don’t need the checklist. But until then, by creating a checklist so your child will have everything they need for the day, you will be free to use that much needed brain power for more important tasks. In addition, you will be relived of the responsibility of constantly reminding the children about things you think, that surely by this age, they should remember. All of that will allow you the freedom to be less stressed and have time to pursue the things you love to do.