Getting kids up and ready for the day is a sure-fire stress-builder and a typical cause of morning madness. If you find yourself in a battle each morning, it is time to work on streamlining your children’s routine. It is important for children and teens to get enough sleep and to be sent off with a healthy breakfast and access to a nutritious lunch. What can parents do to start each day in a positive fashion? Here are seven ideas.

1. Get up before your kids.

If you set your alarm for at least 15 – 30 minutes before your kids wake up, establishing a morning routine for kids becomes so much easier and you’ll be setting the whole family up for a successful morning. Ideally you will be showered, dressed and packed up for the day. Just like children, adults benefit from a regular routine. Consider creating a morning ritual that helps you start your day off well before your kids even wake up.

 2. Establish a Morning Routine

A non-negotiable routine must be created, with the consequences discussed and determined. If you have younger kids use pictures instead of just words in your morning routine chart and include all of the things that need to get done like:

  • Brushing teeth
  • Combing hair
  • Washing face
  • Getting dressed
  • Eating Breakfast
  • Putting shoes on
  • Grab backpack/lunchbox
  • Head out the door

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.

3. Only Do What’s Really Important

Some parents unwittingly set their kids up to fail with their morning routines by assigning unexpected chores and duties. This can result in whining and a mad rush to end up on time. Consider creating a checklist of what absolutely must be done each morning, then schedule the rest for later in the day..

4. Choose and Set Out Clothing the Night Before

Clothing, down to clean socks, underwear, shoes should be laid out each night before bed.

5. Stagger Wake-Up Times

If you’ve got more than one kid in the house, and especially if you have a large family, consider staggering wake-up times for greater efficiency. Start with kids who need assistance first or the ones who are real sleepyheads who move at a snail’s pace come mornings.

6. Determine Breakfast Choices In Advance

You have many choices for what healthy breakfast to provide your kids, but make those choices in advance. Breakfast is important–some experts argue that it is the most important meal of the day, so your kids need a nutritious start each morning. However, that start shouldn’t put parents in a work bind or make kids late for school.

7. Designate an Essentials Area

Designate an area for all essentials to be when you’re trying to leave. Shoes, backpacks, car keys, cell phones, purses, etc., should be placed in this area every day, always, so they are ready for action. Keep a cell phone charger in this area. Not having to hunt down keys or other last-minute essentials saves time and helps keep your blood pressure in check.

Snatch and Go Theory Really Does Work

It’s just not enough to get dressed and eat. How many times have kids missed the bus because they couldn’t find their homework sheet or didn’t have their backpack put together? If you drive your kids, then put their organized backpacks in the car the night before. Lunches should also be prepared just before bed and easily grabbed from the fridge. Jackets should be in a central location. The “snatch and go” theory really does work in the mornings.

9. Model Morning Behavior

Parents can influence whether their kids become morning risers or morning whiners. If parents moan and groan, are always frantic, grumpy, and running late themselves, then how can they expect anything more of their own kids? Get up earlier yourself, start that coffee, or do 10 minutes of exercise. Show a positive mental attitude and really mean it when you greet your kids with “Good Morning.”

10. Exception Mornings Should Be Planned

One way to make it easier for kids to get up in the mornings is to create the occasional sleep-in day as a reward. If it’s a school holiday, lazy weekend opportunity, or just about any reason at all, parents can make a special celebration out of the exception. This serves to reinforce the lesson that normal mornings have a schedule and that occasionally everyone gets a break from the routine.

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