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Finding Your Morning Routine

Amber Brandt  |  August 16, 2021

Transitioning in and out of a new schedule can be tough. It takes time to adjust to the demands of each new season, or to find a rhythm that works well for you and your family. Back-to-school is no exception.

After a long summer filled with beach days, camps, road trips, or later bedtimes, it’s important to get back into a groove that will help you get enough sleep, feel prepared, and be on time. Experts suggest low-stress mornings start with a successful bedtime routine the night before.

Create a successful before-bed routine:

  1. Schedule your evening. Practices and sporting events can make it difficult to keep a consistent midweek schedule, but do your best to coordinate a set dinner time, built-in downtime (with or without screens), homework blocks, and any showers or baths that need to happen before bed. Consistent, dependable routines help everyone know what to expect, and signal when it’s time to wind down for bed.
  2. Reduce morning decision making. There’s nothing worse than trying to get ready for the day with three children asking questions nonstop. Make your job simpler (and their morning more straightforward) by laying out their clothes, prepping breakfast, or packing lunches the night before.
  3. Create a grab-and-go station. No one wants to get to school and realize their backpack is still at home. Place all items (devices, lunches, backpacks, or briefcases) by the door so they’re within reach even if you’re scampering out the door.
  4. Establish a bedtime for everyone (including yourself). It’s hard to function on too little sleep, no matter who you are. A good night’s sleep makes everything better.

Create a fresh morning routine:

  1. Set a good example. It’s hard to wrangle everyone from your bed. Choose to get up 15 minutes before the rest of the family so you’re already well into your first cup of coffee or showered before they even wake up. (And with your clothes laid out the night before, you’ll be well on your way to a successful morning before the kids open their eyes.)
  2. Set timers. Most people are more productive when they have an external motivator or deadline. If you find yourself endlessly hounding your child to get dressed, put on their shoes, or eat breakfast, set small timers and allow your child the opportunity to self-manage. It may be bumpy the first few days as you establish the new expectation, but they’ll eventually rise to the occasion.
  3. Move your whole schedule up. If you technically need to leave by 7:45 a.m. to arrive at school on time, make your “leaving” time 7:30 instead to accommodate for traffic jams, gas, or unexpected inclement weather.

Other considerations:

Perhaps time management is no problem for your family and your current routine feels pretty good. Great! Here are a few ideas that could make things even more seamless.

  • Keep breakfast simple. Toast, smoothies, cereal, granola bars, fruit, and bagels travel well. Kids can nibble while you commute.
  • Delegate. Is it time for your child to start taking a few chores off your plate? Make them responsible for feeding the dog, making their own lunch, or filling the family’s water bottles.
  • Create a checklist. If your child can read, turn their morning routine into magnets on the fridge or a checklist they can follow on their own.
  • Provide incentives. Slow movers and night owls might not tackle the morning quite like you’d prefer. Let them know if they accomplish all their tasks in the morning, they’ll be allowed to play a game, read a book, or even watch a little TV before school.