How to Create a Morning Routine - For Kids Who HATE Mornings

Does your child hate mornings?

Mine does.

My sweet boy is grumpy in the mornings - in a Rosemary’s-Baby- headspinningly-awful way.

And it’s not their fault really is it? They’re just not naturally morning people.

But one way or the other our children have to get up, get dressed, get fed and get the heck out of the door every morning. So the only question is - how to make mornings less The Exorcist, and more Mary Poppins?

My answer for you...a morning routine. One especially made for kids who hate/loathe mornings.


How to create a morning routine for kids who hate morning

Yep, I’m pretty sure you just rolled your eyes then, mama.

But I’m not talking about a cute printable of morning jobs from Pinterest - like that one you tried once only to have it thrown back in your face by a grumpy child.

No, I’m talking about a battle plan of Star Wars proportion.

So if you’re feeling desperate about your mornings, mama, I encourage you to give this plan a try. (It’s cheaper than alcohol or therapy).

Let’s dive right in to see how to make mornings run easier and smoother.


1 | Start on Sunday (or even Friday)


The success of this whole plan depends on forward planning.

Early birds get the Prosecco and all that.

So on Sunday (or Friday, or Saturday) dive in and prepare for the week ahead.

Lunches: Create a meal plan for lunches so you know what you need to pack the night before. And look for lunchbox ideas that you can prepare in advance as much as possible.

Stuck for ideas? Here's a list of 100 no-sandwich school lunch ideas from Lisa. Set up grab-and-go lunch zones in your fridge and pantry and stock them up.

Clothes: Get the school clothes ready for the week. Load up some hangers with clothes for each day - extra points if you label the hangers with the days of the week.

Include all the clothes, underwear, accessories, hair-bands and whatever else your child will be wearing that day on the one hanger.

Get your child involved in this if that’s age appropriate. Explain that this is part of a new weekly system.  

School Bag: When your child gets home from school on Friday, make it a habit to empty their school bag and restock any necessities such as pens, paper or tissues.

PRO TIP: Create a checklist of things that your child always needs at school and use that weekly when you restock their bag. If they need different things for different days - create checklists for each day. Get as much of this stuff out of your head and into a system.

Night before: Prepare the breakfast things - cups, bowls, glasses, - lay them out ready to go in the morning.

And remember to make things as simple as possible by choosing make ahead breakfasts and easy-to-grab breakfast choices.

Do as much as you can in advance.


2 | Fill up Their Tank


What’s the aim of the morning routine?

Obviously to get out of the door on time.

But also to fill your child's emotional tank.

As a working mom I have huge guilt about leaving my children each day. Maybe you’re in a similar situation?

So, one way I try to connect with my children is to fill their emotional tanks 3 times a day, no matter what crazy shit is happening. And I do this before school, after school, and before bed.

And you’ll have your own ideas about what works best for your children - depending on their ages and preferences. But I like to start the day with cuddles in bed, a morning song, and a chat about good things happening that day. There are lots of heartfelt ‘I love you’s’ and dozy kisses.

I figure I might get killed in a traffic accident on the way to work (which happened to a friend of mine). So I always make sure to leave my children on a positive note.

I don’t want the last thing I ever said to them to be ‘hurrrrry uppppp!’ Sure, that’s a gloomy thought - but it makes arriving to work a few minutes late look insignificant.

How are you going to fill their tanks each morning?


3 | Build your Own Morning Routine

OK, *rolls up sleeves*, let’s make a plan.

Think about these questions:

  • How long does child need to wake up and get ready?
    Should you sacrifice a few minutes of their sleep and get them up earlier? So they can ease into the day rather than be catapulted at it.

  • What do you actually need your child to do?
    Make a list. And then see what can be done night before.

  • How long does this take in morning?
    Be realistic and err on the side of caution. This will tell you what time you need to get them up.  

  • What’s the biggest struggle?
    If you just said ‘everything’ (or ‘fight the urge to add whisky to my morning cup of coffee), pick one thing to work on. One thing at a time, mama. Now ask yourself: How can I make it easier?

    For example, maybe it’s a battle to get your child (who is quite prepared to lie right to your face) to clean their teeth.

    So what about finding a fun app on your phone, or using a countdown timer, or a fun toothbrush?

    Still struggling? Try a ‘when x...then y’ deal. When you’ve cleaned your teeth, then you can watch some TV. The quicker your child cleans his teeth, the more TV he gets to watch.


4 | Pick Your Battles (very carefully)

If your child will only eat Cheerios for breakfast, stop stressing about making them eat oatmeal.

If they’ll only leave the house if they can wear welly boots (and it’s the middle of July), let them. They’ll soon learn why it’s a bad idea.

Fact is, mama, we’re talking about survival. Pick one thing at a time to fix - for everything else, just go with the MF flow.

Speaking of which….

Don’t be afraid to cut corners: Do you really have to braid your child’s hair, would a ponytail work just as well? Could they not just eat breakfast in the car? Get creative and cut some corners.

PRO TIP: BOX: If you’re feeling a little Type-A perfectionist about cutting corners and picking battles, go and watch ‘Bad Moms’. That’s an order, soldier!

5 | Phase yourself out


‘Oh, just give it to me, I’ll do it’

(Said through gritted teeth, literally on the edge of a mommy meltdown).

OK, I know it feels like it’ll be quicker. But doing everything for your kids is only a short term win, mama.

So, teach your kiddos some independence so they can get dressed, clean teeth, tie shoelaces on their own.

And in the case of teenagers, teach them to get themselves out of bed without you reminding them 40 times and resorting to a bucket of ice water.

If you’re still teaching your children to be independent in the morning, factor that learning time into your morning.

Still struggling? Check out this helpful post on how to teach a child to get dressed from the lovely Nina.

Again - I refer you to the movie ‘Bad Moms’ for why this is good for kids.


6 | Lead by Example

OK, just between you and me now, let’s get real.

Are you good in the mornings?

You can’t actually expect your children to face the morning with grace, if you’re a screaming banshee losing her shit. every. GD. morning.

I’m not going to tell you to get up before your kids or do yoga and journal at 5am. You do what works for you. Just remember your kids are taking their cues from you, mama.

My only advice... Be caffeinated.

I Love it When a Plan Almost Comes Together


Are you ready to make a plan and make mornings a teeny tiny bit less horrible?

Your child will probably never leap out of bed, sing ‘Oh, what a beautiful morning’ and speed through their morning routine. And that’d be kinda creepy if they did.

So be realistic.

And remember this tip from the Army, a plan never survives first contact with the enemy. So be ready to tear up the plan and Improve, Adapt and Overcome.

You got this, mama!

Don’t forget to pin for later.