How to Start a Successful School Morning Routine

That first school morning of the year can be tough. But if you don't get an efficient school morning routine in place as the kids go back to school, it may not get better later in the school year. These tips will help you streamline your school morning routine, and get everyone back to school with less stress.

Wake Up Early (at Least to Start)

On the first days back to school, start your school morning 15 minutes earlier than you think you need. As the school year goes on, adjust your wake-up times.

This goes for both parents and the kids. Figure out how much earlier you should get up before the kids. Can you just roll out of bed and wake them or do you need your morning coffee before you see their bright cheery faces? Either way figure 15 minutes extra at the beginning of the school year.

Wake-up time is directly related to bedtime, especially with younger kids. You may want to start the school year with an early bedtime too and adjust later​ if it seems warranted.

Get It Done the Night Before

For a smooth school morning, do everything that can be done the night before, i.e pack lunches, lay out clothes, plan breakfast, gather homework and other things that go back to school. This may well include showers and baths, especially if your kids still need help with these. Make these things part of the kids' bedtime routine.

Learn to Delegate

When kids are little, parents must do everything for them, and sometimes we just stay in that habit.

A new school year is an ideal time to take a look at kids' skills and add new jobs to their school morning routine. However, a school morning is not necessarily a good teaching time.

So if you want kids to take care of a job that you've previously done for them, like making breakfast, tying shoes, making their own lunches, or getting dressed, spend time teaching this in the summer or on weekends. Don't try to squeeze it into your already hectic school morning.

Don't Sweat Breakfast

Ask kids what they want for breakfast the night before and plan out simple breakfast ideas. Of course, many kids can't plan that far in advance but just starting them thinking can be helpful.

Kids will take it much better if they find out the night before that you're out of their favorite cereal, rather than when they are still foggy from sleep.

Have a Jobs Checklist

Either write an actual checklist for your school morning or just repeat the jobs kids are expected to do on a school morning until they remember it. School morning jobs might include:

  • Eating breakfast
  • Getting dressed
  • Brushing hair and teeth
  • Putting on shoes
  • Placing backpack by the door

And when someone reports that all their morning jobs are done, I inevitably ask, "Are you sure there isn't anything else you'll need as we are walking out the door?" Because it seems someone always needs something.

Give Kids an Incentive

You may care about getting the kids to school on time, but many kids need more motivation than something as abstract as the threat of a late slip.

Give kids an incentive to finish early.

When you choose your wake up time for school mornings, build in a little extra time. That way kids who complete their school morning routine early are rewarded with some time for TV, reading, a computer game or something they'd like to do before school.

Keep Trying

Tinker with the school morning routine until it works for all, including you. If you find you are 5 minutes late every day, maybe you need to get up 5 minutes earlier. But maybe not.

Sometimes a problem can be addressed in another way, like doing more things the night before, simplifying a task or simply eliminating it from the routine. Be creative in your solutions!

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