11 Ways to Make Your
Morning Routine Suck Less for You and Your Child

By Dr. Cheryl Andaya

Morning madness😱!!!!! OMG! Morning routines are soooo exhausting! Running around and yelling for the kids to get up and get ready for school. Everyone rushing, kids messing around, and me getting frustrated, yelling to the kids to get moving! Finally get out the door, half way down the street, and what happens? One of my kids tells me they forgot something inside 🤦🏻‍♀️. Seriously?! I am now half an hour behind schedule and I’m going to be late. Argghhhh!!! Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to make your morning routine easier? Is there a way 🤷🏻‍♀️? Absolutely! After feeling the crunch of the morning so many times, I found some ways to make your morning routine a little less sucky.

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Preparation can do wonders for your child!

1. Mental preparation

Start mentally preparing your child (and yourself 🤪) several days ahead of the first day especially if this is the first time your child is attending school. Believe it or not but getting your kid in the frame of mind (“school starting soon buleh”) will help them get ready for the transition. Some children take time to cope with change. If your child tends to get anxious about new things, it will help to talk to them about what to expect. When my son was younger, he didn’t do too well if we dropped changes on him at the last minute (hoooo brother would not be happy! 😡😭Talk about crying fits!); however, if we slowly introduced the idea and talked about it, giving details about the change, he had an easier time 😇 (not completely an angel but definitely easier). He was a lot more cooperative with the morning routine if he knew what was expected of him.

What does that look like?🤓

Me: Hey babe, remember, school is coming up so we’re going to follow our coool big boy schedule! (introduce kid friendly morning routine)

New School

If your child is going to a new school, or if your little one is going to school for the first time, it would help to introduce them to their new school a few days before the start of school. Some schools will have an introductory/orientation day at the school for the students and parents before the first day. Students can bring some of their school supplies to put in their cubbies and begin to familiarize themselves with the layout of the class and their teacher. (This is awesome because then you won’t have 20 billion bags to carry on the first day of school.) If your child’s school does not have this, you can check to see if you can visit the school and walk around campus so help you child be more familiar with the place. If not, pictures of the school and available activities in school would be the next best thing. For families moving to a new location and would not have time to visit the school, pictures online can help your child become somewhat familiar with the school and help them get excited.

2. Talk and listen👂to your child.

Me and my beautiful mama. Check out that retro tv!

Ask him/her about their feelings regarding the first day of school. Just listen and empathize. Let them talk about their thoughts, beliefs, fears, and expectations. Don’t dismiss their fears, acknowledge it, and help him/her think about ways to ease their concerns. If they are feeling junk about school, this will affect how cooperative they’ll be in the morning. Providing them with reassurance will hep with the morning routine. Think about it, if you don’t want to go someplace, you’ll drag your feet. I still recall my mom talking to me about Kindergarten. I never went to preschool so school was going to be a totally new experience for me. I remember feeling very nervous about it ☹️. The only other children I had been around were my cousins. What if the children didn’t like me? Will my teacher be nice? What will happen at school? How long will I need to be there? A few days before my very first day of school, my mom patiently explained what school was like, making it sound exciting. She had already exposed me to books and told me that there would be books there! Awesome! What else? I wondered. I had seen school scenes on tv but still wondered what it would be like. I vividly remember her telling me about lunch time as she brought out a tray and handed it to me. She told me there would be trays used to carry our food to our table in the cafeteria. She had me hold the tray and for some strange reason, I thought this was the coooolest thing 😎 (I know weird).  I never forgot the time, patience and care she took to make me feel comfortable about the process. She helped me get my bag ready and talked about school in such a positive way that I couldn’t help but feel curious and excited. I was ready to get ready that first day and every day after.

What it look like 🤓:

Me: Hey, school is coming up.

Kid: Yeah.

Me: How you feeling about it?

(then, just listen, empathize, hug, nurture, reassure…match their energy level. Don’t force them to be happy if they’re not…just be there and ask how you can best support them)

3. Adjust their bedtimes ⏰.

Start adjusting bedtime and wake times at least a week before to get them used to waking at the time they will need to wake once school starts. (Trust me on this one, you don’t want them all irras because they are tired 🙄…my fault for letting them get that last ounce of summer the night before). It takes a while for the body to get back into a morning routine and adjust the circadian cycle. This will ensure they are well rested and set them up for a smooth first day of school. If you wait until the night before to change their sleep and wake time, your child will be grouch monsters as their bodies adjust, and they’ll be more resistant towards doing things in the morning.

Don’t start off on the wrong foot!

4. Keep it positive ➕.

Let’s face it, as parents, we are always reminding our children about things NOT to do and giving warnings like, “you better make sure you no lose your new water bottle that cost an arm and a leg!” or “you better not get busted on the first day of school! I better not get any phone calls from your teacher!” Back yourself up, and realize that ☝️ your tone sets the stage for your child’s day. If your child had a difficult time in school previously, let them know that this is a new school year and they can start anew. Provide a positive backdrop, ☝️don’t give warnings. Warning your child on the first day of school conveys that you don’t trust them and it will place them on the defensive. You want to instill hope and self-confidence in your child, especially if they had a tough year last school year. Letting them know you believe in them will go a long way. Having that positive attitude will help your child engage on a more positive note with their teacher and their peers.

5. Make it exciting 🤗.

Make it exciting for your child by picking out a special outfit 👚👕👖or backpack, something that will make them look forward to their first day. Some individuals (like me 🙋🏻‍♀️) get something new for the first day at a new job, for having to testify in court, for parent-teacher conference (you know…whenever you need a reward 😬). It doesn’t even have to be something expensive. It could be a special letter you wrote or maybe a lucky charm you made to hang on their backpack.

*Please note: This is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase through this link, I will earn a small fee without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep me writing these hopefully, helpful posts. Mahalo in advance.

Tackle stuff the night before

6. Prepare backpacks and outfits the night before.

Everything you can do the night before, be like Nike and JUST DO IT!!!! This will cut down on scrambling in the morning and children (or you…if you’re like me who tends to be scattered) forgetting things. Set your child up for success with the morning routine by preparing as much as you can the night before. Reduce the chaos that is likely to happen as everyone gets back into the routine of getting ready and heading out the door. ☝️For parents with ADHD children, morning routines tend to be one of the most stressful times of the day because their child requires frequent redirection and guidance to get ready. Designate a spot for backpacks, snacks/lunch, footwear and water bottles. Lay out their clothes for them to wear the next day. You may have to do it with them a few times until they are able to do it independently.

Awesome mornings start with a little effort for a BIG effect

7. Give yourself plenty of time the morning of the first day.

Do yourself and your child a favor by getting up earlier than usual for the first day of school because you are all getting accustomed to the routine of leaving for school and work. Giving your child and yourself extra time means you get to enjoy the morning, you’re not stressed, and you can assist if needed (you know your child will be asking for some kind of help that morning…they may be feeling anxious and need the extra attention). If you’re able to get yourself ready first do that before kids get up. Some families have traditions for the first day of school. I know one awesome mom who actually makes a special breakfast for the first day of school and makes them a cake (over achiever 😝). Giving your child enough time to eat breakfast without rushing can be a treat and give you some talk time (as you put on your makeup or whatever multitasking thing you’re doing because you didn’t wake up early enough 😬).

8. Wake with love ♥️.

Ease your child into waking with gentleness (unless their deep sleepers 🤪 then you’ll need to shake the buggah a little) in a positive way. Try not to yell or be irritated. That makes for a rude awakening. My son scolded me once for turning on the overhead light in the morning saying it made him feel grumpy. We came up with a gentle nudge and turning on the reading lamp which was enough to get him going. Just think about how you would want someone to wake you. If your child wakes up grumpy, that will make it harder for you, so a little gentleness in the morning can go a long way.

9. Rewards for beating the clock.

If your child is a slow Joe 🐢 in the morning or is easily distracted, set up a schedule and timer. If they take a long time doing one thing (like brushing teeth for days 🙄), set an egg timer like the one below and tell them they get a sticker for beating the clock. Remember to be excited if they beat the clock and give them verbal praise as well. 🎉

*Please note: This is an affiliate link, which means if you purchase through this link, I will earn a small fee without any extra cost to you. It helps to keep me writing these hopefully, helpful posts. Mahalo in advance.

10. Car warning

Set a special alarm (for those with iphones, the tone Classic–> Alarm – with that blaring firetruck-like sound is perfect) for when you need to get into the car (hint: set that alarm about 5 minutes early to account for the last-minute scramble…like my younger kiddo who seems to always decide at the last minute that he wants to bring his plushie into the car with him). If everyone is in the car on time then give big woops and praise! 🎉

11. Drop off with loves

If you’re able to walk them to class on the first day, this would be ideal to help your little transition into the class. Reassure them that you will be thinking about them throughout the day and will get them after they have lots of fun with their class. Always let them know you love them…you never know how their day will be but at the very least, you can let them know you love them.

Finally, celebrate!!!! 🎉🎉🎉 You did it!!!! Yay you!!!!! If things didn’t go as smoothly as you like with your morning routine, no worries, you get to do it again 😝! Go easy on yourself and celebrate the little things. Every little bit of progress is still progress! Give yourself a pat on the back and keep moving forward!

Morning Routine Infographic

Thanks for reading!!!!! You are soooo awsome for reading this whole thing and trying to learn some new things for your kiddo.

If you have something you would like me to write about, please feel free to comment, email, contact…let a girl know!! Better yet, please subscribe and join the other parents who are following me and receiving updates on posts and positive statements. Subscribe now and receive a ☝️FREE morning routine schedule you can use to help your family have a smoother morning. Till next time my lovelies…Me ke aloha…🌸

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Dr. Cheryl Andaya

Clinical Psychologist

I’m a mother and a Clinical Psychologist who works with children and their families as well as individuals reaching for their goals. Born and raised in Hawaii, I embrace diversity and help individuals find their strengths.

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    This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. Nikki Boether

      I love this! These are all so helpful. I always try to stay bright and cheery in the morning even when I am half awake haha, it helps get my daughter off to a better start.

      1. drandaya

        Right?! I was NEVER a morning person until kids! Now, here I am, up bright and early with a smile on my face to start everyone off on the right foot. I totally don’t recognize myself! 😂 Thanks for taking the time to read it and hope it helps.

    2. Divya Krishnan

      Such a great post. Loved every bit of it.
      And you site is so posh I am sure I’ll keep coming back!

      1. drandaya

        Hi Divya! You are soooo sweet! Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 😊

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