Parents and kids have to find time to get ready in the morning, drop everyone off where they belong, manage homework and school projects, and get to bed on time. Whew! What a lot of work! Starting school is an exciting time for both parents and children. Kids may be anxious about making new friends and encountering new situations and routines. Parents may be wondering how school is going to fit into an already busy day. Developing sensible routines will help you and your child manage school and all that comes with it. Kids that are prepared are less anxious and fare far better than kids who aren't.
Make sure that your child's school routine begins the night before. Help her lay out her clothes and make sure that she understands when you need to leave the house and what she has to do to be ready. Help her put her homework and other school-related materials in her book bag and put the book bag in a designated place – by the door, hanging from a doorknob, or on her desk. If your child eats a packed lunch, get it ready the night before as well. Getting things ready the night before when there's time eliminates stress and a lot of running around the next morning.
Make sure your child's morning routine includes a good breakfast. Studies show that kids who eat breakfast are better prepared to learn. Make a chart or a list of what she needs to do to get ready to leave the house so she doesn't have to be reminded. Charts can make mornings fun and easy to manage.
After School Routines
After school routines are important too. Make sure that your child has ample homework time and that she has a quiet place to study. If an after school caretaker manages homework time, make sure that you go over it with your child too. This helps you stay connected, monitor her progress, and gives you quality time with your child.
A set bedtime is important for young, school-aged children. Kids need eight to ten hours of sleep to be prepared to learn the next day. Develop a sensible bedtime routine that helps your child prepare for sleep without arguing. School routines incorporate a lot of smaller routines into the day, but helping your child be successful in school means that a lot of the what she does has to take place at home. Although it may seem like more work at first, helping your child manage their time before and after school, helps them become responsible and independent.
There are two points in the day that set the tone for how a family runs. The first is the morning routine. If mornings are stressed, rushed and chaotic it affects everyone’s mood for the rest of the day. If the morning runs smoothly. includes some connection and even a little fun everyone can start their day with a smile.
The second super important part of the day is bedtime. If yours needs help you can see our life changing bedtime routine here. PS. A smooth bedtime helps with the morning routine too!
We started off this school year with a few missteps in our morning. I quickly realized that it was going to take a little planning (along with some trial and error) to make mornings fun (and functional) again.
As always I pulled out my favorite parenting technique… conflict resolution. We had a problem and I needed help with the solution! Bring on the kids. I placed my giant white board on the table and asked the kids to help me make a list of everything that has to be done before school.
We wrote a time (or estimated time) next to every task. Next we calculated how much time there is between waking up and heading out the door.
Guess what. For Big M there was plenty of time in the morning, but not for our little sleepy head. If she wakes up at seven and then spends some time actually getting her eyes to open, there isn’t enough time for her to accomplish everything. No wonder we were running around like crazy!
Here’s where the magic happens. (This is the reason I adore conflict resolution.) Laid out in front of them is a problem, they can clearly see it. They understand it and now they can solve it.
I saw an answer pretty quickly, but patiently waited to see what they came up with. It wasn’t long before they had made their own individual morning (and afternoon) routines. The bonus? They realized on their own that there wouldn’t be time for screen time on school days.
I could have done this entire process by myself. But now they are invested. They made the rules, they made the routine. They are far more likely to follow it… because it is their plan! Will their be hiccups, of course, but we will figure them out together. (Check out the conflict resolution post for step-by-step instructions.)
15 Morning Routine Checklists for Kids
Once everything was figured out I thought it was time for the fun part. I asked if they would like to have their routine made into a cute checklist. They said “no thanks”. BOO!
Your little ones might say yes though… so I rounded up 15 printable morning routine checklists for kids. You are sure to find one that will fit your family (or at least inspire you to create your own).
Do you already have a working morning routine or do you need to sit down and create one?Related Posts
Last updated: August 14, 2014Back to school routines for kids – with free printables
Routines are the key to a smoothly running household. They establish expectations for behavior and responsibility. During the school year, having established routines for the kids for getting ready for school, homework, and bedtime ensure that most of the time, things will get done. Sometimes, on a crazy, busy day, a routine can make the difference between an overwhelmed parent and a stressed parent who gets almost everything taken care of.
Today I’m excited to welcome the lovely Barb from A Life in Balance to share her back to school routines for kids with you. Barb is one of the most organised people I know and I always love to see what tips and tricks she has to make our lives just a little less chaotic! Take it away Barb…
Give your children the gift of responsibility
Put as much responsibility on your kids as they can handle. Don’t be afraid to give them more responsibility even if you’re not sure they can handle it. If your kid is asking for more responsibility, definitely hand it over and supervise to make sure your child stays safe and they get the job done. Pair a younger child with an older one and encourage the older child to teach the younger one how to do the job.
Setting up expectations as routines for my kids last year made a huge difference in our school mornings and afternoons. My kids knew they were required to get their rooms ready, get dressed, finish their lunches, and get their chores done before they could do electronic time each morning.
I also had expectations for after school. When you need 4 kids to unpack their bags and lunch boxes and get started on their school work without few interruptions, expectations need to be clear.
Selected for you: 10 back to school tips to get the school year off to a flying start!
As parents, our expectations for after dinner including the bedtime routine were less clear. After all, we only needed to be at one activity weekly and another biweekly. It was okay if we didn’t stick to a routine every night. This year, we’ll be establishing a regular routine and sticking to it. We have last year’s activities along with fall soccer for 3 kids.Create a routine for your kids
It’s pretty easy deciding what your kids need to get done in the morning before they go to school. Almost every parent expects their kids to be dressed, have their teeth brushed, and have their lunches made before going to school.
Some parents have their kids do their chores in the morning; others wait until after school or after dinner. Some split chores between morning and afternoon. Figure out what works for your family, and write the routine out to make sure everyone in the family is on the same page.
For larger families, include bathroom time in your routine. Teenagers can take over a bathroom for way too long, making it difficult for other family members to get in. 2 family members in our family use the bathroom in the morning while the younger kids and my husband use it in the evening. We rotate showers every other day between 2 pairs of younger kids. This will change as the younger kids get older.Put the routine on paper
Once you’ve come up with the routine(s), put them on paper. Don’t worry about being fancy. I created mine in Microsoft Word using free clip art from Microsoft. Anything else I needed I found online by googling “free clip art.”
Selected for you: DIY Back to School Teacher Gifts That Are Super Cute!
Another option is to ask the kids to help with putting the routines on paper. Elementary school kids can write out their jobs. Preschool kids can help color pictures representing their jobs. Office supply stores may have stickers or preprinted pictures to help with creating a chore chart.My family’s daily routine
I keep these routines for my kids posted on our family fridge. Even though my youngest son can’t read yet, his older siblings help him remember what he needs to do.Our morning routine – before electronic time
How do you make sure your kids get their chores done? Why not leave us a comment below with your back to school routines. And if you’ve found this post useful please take a minute to hit one of those little buttons down there to share it with your friends!
Homework, chores, TV, computer time, bedtime: are each of these areas potential land mines that can start a fight with your child each night? If you answer that question with a “yes,” you’ve already taken the first step toward making things better. You’ve recognized that there is a pattern of behavior and interaction with your child that isn’t working for you or your family. Often, as parents we get stuck in repeated problem situations with our kids and don’t even realize it. But, if you’ve already figured out that every evening during the week, no matter what you do, things always seem to erupt into a fight — you’ve identified a pattern of behavior that can be changed.
“There is no magic way to make your evening run smoothly, but the key to more success is having routine and structure.”
Related: Tired of fighting with your kids about homework, chores and bedtime?
Does this sound familiar?
You rush home from work, still worried about a project you didn’t complete, and rather than having some time to yourself you have to immediately referee a fight between your kids over who ate the last cookie. After you settle that, your youngest child breaks into tears over his spelling test, and your oldest is refusing to pick up her room and do her laundry. Both are demanding to watch TV, and all you can do is yell at them and send them to their rooms. You’re hungry, they’re hungry and you have no idea what’s for dinner…not a great way start the evening.
Evenings are ripe for this kind of problem situation. The kids seem to need your time and attention as soon as you walk through the door, while you may feel like you’re being bombarded with multiple demands. Add to this the time pressures you feel to get dinner on the table, homework completed, rooms picked up, dishes done, and get kids to bed on time. In short, it can feel overwhelming to everyone. You’re all tired and frazzled, and unfortunately, it’s the perfect set-up for a fight.
Related: Oppositional, defiant kid making you crazy?
First Things First: Setting up Transition Time
Transitions throughout the day are often difficult for kids — and parents, too. Kids have difficulty going from the structured school day to the more open-ended home routine, or going from a day of play to an evening of chores and homework. Parents often have to go from a busy, demanding work environment to an equally demanding home environment, with little to no break in between, except a stressful commute with a last-minute rush to pick the kids up on time at day care or their after-school program. No wonder fights break out!
I remember when my son was younger and I would come home from work, both he and I needed a short break before getting to the evening tasks. We built that into the routine so that I wasn’t demanding that he immediately do chores when I got in the door, and he wasn’t immediately demanding my undivided attention. I’d come in the house saying something like, “Hey, I’m glad to see you and want to hear about your day, but I need about 10 minutes to change my clothes and then I can help you with your homework.” We’d give each other about 10 minutes and then start doing what needed to be done that evening. At first we both needed some reminders to follow through on this.
Kids often have a difficult time adjusting to allowing parents this “space” for themselves, so you may need to give them many reminders. It’s difficult not to get angry at your kids when they can’t give you some small piece of time for yourself, but try saying in a matter-of-fact manner — “Just let me have my space and then I’ll help you.” Kids really do need their parent’s attention, but rarely is it urgent. They can learn to respect another person’s need for space. A way to respond to this need for attention is to build a “check-in” time in the routine, where they have your undivided attention and can tell you all about their day and their needs.
Related: How to parent your children calmly and effectively.
Set up a structured routine
Kids do best with structure and routine; often, if there is none, chaos can result. The structure itself can be tight, as in the classroom, or looser, with more general rules and expectations. In order to figure out the best way to set up your evening routine, it’s important to know what your individual child needs and what’s important to your family. For example, a child who struggles with sitting to do homework may need small breaks built into the homework time.
The afterschool/evening routine can include: homework, snack, chores, help with preparing dinner, setting the table, cleaning up after dinner, computer time, reading, TV time, and bedtime. These can be tailored to your children, their ages and capabilities. An effective way to set up this routine and keep everyone’s attention is to create a written schedule for the evening. It should be displayed where reminders are most needed, like in the kitchen or homework area. Engaging kids in creating the schedule will also help them feel more for actually following the routine.
Special Evening Challenges.
HomeworkHell: Screaming, yelling, fighting, doing the work for your child or simply giving up doesn’t work when it comes to getting kids to do their homework. First and foremost, kids need to be responsible for doing their own work. School will give them consequences for not completing it adequately, but you can help to set the scene for maximum success by setting clear expectations with clear consequences around schoolwork, making time and space in the evening routine, and helping as needed (and only as needed).
It’s important to set up the space and the environment that is most conducive to your child doing the work. Generally, that means a quiet space with few distractions and disruptions.
Know your child and his or her ability to tolerate homework demands. If you’re unsure about this —for example you don’t know why they can sail through their math assignment but seem tortured when having to write a simple sentence — talk with their teacher about how your child learns best. As parents, we don’t automatically know this, but teachers are focused on learning styles and skills. Reaching out to the teacher also creates a partnership between parent and teacher that supports your child’s learning. And, they may have very helpful ideas about setting up routines that best match your child’s needs.
Fighting over Chores. Nagging, screaming, reminding over and over, or just giving up are natural, but not effective ways to get kids to do their chores. Giving up often feels like the easiest way out, but can lead to other problems. Kids learn that their parents don’t hold them responsible. They can mistakenly believe this to be true of other adults like teachers or bosses. Instead, holding your child responsible for following through on expectations — like chores — will teach her responsibility toward becoming a responsible adult.
A more effective response to getting your child to do chores is to calmly remind her of her responsibilities. It’s helpful if you have made a chart or poster that you can simply point to as a reminder. Not doing chores should have consequences that are important to that child, like loss of TV time, an earlier bedtime, reduced computer time, or less phone time. It’s important to make sure the chore is “doable” by your child, and you may need to clearly let them know what "clean your bedroom" means, for example. You can say, "You need to put all your dirty clothes in the hamper, make your bed, and tidy up." Sometimes we think kids know what we mean when we say something, but try not to assume. Being specific helps make sure both parties understand expectations.
Related: How to give consequences to kids — step by step.
Bedtime Battles: Bedtime is often a challenging time for kids. Like all effective routines, bedtime should be tailored to your child, his age and temperament. Some kids actually require more or less sleep than others their same age. It’s important for parents to pay attention to their own children’s “clocks.” Some are happy to settle down and fall asleep while others need to have a gradual transition to bed. Reading can be very helpful with bedtime routines for all kids at all reading levels, whether it’s picture books, magazines, or books. More time reading before lights out can also be a reward you give to your child for compliance during the day, and a good way to get them into bed at night.
For more on eliminating bedtime battles with kids of all ages, clickhere.
A special note about kids with ADHD: Often, kids with ADHD have meds that wear off around bedtime. This can be especially challenging to the child and the family. Kids are not generally aware that they are “winding up” just at the time when they should be “winding down.” You can pull them aside and quietly, without distractions, let them know that they need to calm down. If your child is older, you can talk with them about their meds and how bedtimes are a time when they need to work on having more self control. For younger children, having a bedtime routine chart with visual cues and activities that are tailored to their needs (one that includes everything from the time they come home from school to when they turn out the light for bed) will be helpful. If this still doesn’t work and the medication seems to be making things worse, it may be time to talk with the doctor about another medication with less time-sensitive effects.
No miracles — just routine and structure
There is no magic way to make your evening run smoothly, but the key to more success is having routine and structure. Once you’ve built that, you will be able to rely on it to remind your kids what they should be doing and to keep you all on track. They will feel more secure and will more clearly understand what you expect of them. The structured routine also allows you time to build in the attention your kids need and crave, but in a way that works best for everyone. Remember, as a parent, it’s your job to set up the routine, and it’s your child’s job to follow-through.
Janet Lehman, MSW, has worked with troubled children and teens for over 30 years. A veteran social worker, she specializes in child behavior issues — ranging from anger management and oppositional defiance to more serious criminal behavior in teens. In addition, Janet gained a personal understanding of child learning and behavior challenges from her son, who struggled with learning disabilities in school. She is co-creator of The Total Transformation® Program ,The Complete Guide To Consequences™ . Getting Through To Your Child™ . and Two Parents One Plan™ .
I find myself in a difficult situation, and have difficulty setting a routine with my two children they have a 7 year age difference and are of different sexes. how can I incorporate a routine that will work for everybody? I grew up without routine and am used to doing things as they come spur of the moment but I want to change this as I understand it builds self confidence in children. Help!
Routines do indeed help kids feel more secure. They also have lots of other benefits, like helping kids cooperate and learn responsibility. Here's a whole article on why routines are terrific for kids.
Bedtimes are a great place to begin because they include real rewards for your kids -- time you spend with each of them. That means kids will be more accepting as you introduce the new routine. You can explain to them that you want to make sure you get "quality time" with each of them every night.
How do you figure out your desired routine? Start by deciding what time you want each child in bed and count backwards, thinking about what each of them will be doing at each point in time. Because your kids are different ages, they will be doing different things, but your family as a whole can still have a routine.
Then talk with your kids about the routine. What do they think? Have you forgotten anything? Discussing the routine with kids helps them "own" the routine and reduces power struggles.
Finally, print your new schedule out and post a copy on the bathroom door near their bedrooms, and another copy on the refrigerator. Add photos of your kids doing each activity. Most kids like to be involved in taking the photos and gluing them on the schedule, which again makes it "their schedule" instead of just "your schedule."
Your schedule might look something like this.
6pm-6:30pm - Family Dinner
6:30pm-6:45pm - Everyone clears the table together so there can then be five minutes of "roughhousing. " Any physical activity that gets kids giggling will reduce the level of stress hormones in their bloodstreams and make it easier for them to fall asleep. (Just don't do this too close to "lights out " or they'll be too revved up.) Laughing with you also helps them connect with you, so they're more cooperative and can handle you turning your attention to getting a younger sibling to bed. And laughing with each other helps siblings bond.
Bathtime for the three year old, followed by brushing teeth. During this time, you'll need to find something for your older child to do, and to check in frequently. This is usually a good wind-down time for your older child to play quietly in his room, after he has packed his packpack for the next day. TV and games are a bad idea because screens (including phones and ipads) reduce melatonin in the bloodstream, which is important to help your child relax and move toward sleep. It's much better if homework is already completed before dinner, but if not, then this is the time to complete it, if he can do it relatively independently. Otherwise, he'll be doing it on the floor outside the bathroom while you bathe the little one!
Your ten year old, presuming he'll be getting up at 7am, still needs ten hours of sleep, so lights need to be off by 8:30pm to give him half an hour to fall asleep. Use the half hour between 8 and 8:30pm to connect with him. Read him a story -- Yes, even if he can read! It's bonding, good for his intellectual development, and more restful for him than reading to himself. Lie on his bed with him and talk about his day. Snuggle, sing a song, say prayers if that's part of your tradition, and linger for a few minutes after lights out. As Rabbi Sandy Sasso says, that's when you see children's souls.
The great things about a bedtime routine like this:
1. You get special time to connect with each child alone, that your kids can count on. This remains important as kids get older, because it gives the ten year old an opportunity to raise difficult issues and feel heard.
2. Each child gets the security of a safe, predictable, routine at bedtime. which studies have shown is associated with better sleep for everyone in the family, as well as happier, more secure, kids.
3. As your kids get older, they learn self care: to bathe themselves and brush their own teeth, because you have helped them develop the habit.
4. Packing a backpack and setting out clothes makes kids more competent and independent by teaching them to think about the next day. This is invaluable, not just because it makes mornings calmer. It also allows them to suddenly remember things they have forgotten -- that tomorrow they need a change of clothes because the class is painting a mural, or that they forgot about a homework assignment. (Of course, if they remember these things at bedtime frequently, it's a sign that your after-school routine needs some attention!)
5. Having a routine with times attached keeps you from being the bad-guy bedtime cop. It's just the schedule.
6. Having a set bedtime as a youngster helps your kids, once they become teens, to think in terms of how much sleep they need to take good care of their bodies. They are more likely to stay well-rested.
7. You get to check in with each child separately, which really helps if you've been apart all day. You have more chance of hearing what's bothering them. And you get that essential one-on one time with your older child, which keeps you connected at that difficult moment when he's heading into the tween years -- and peer issues can crowd out his relationship with you, even though he desperately needs to stay anchored to you.
8. Bedtime routines that center around baths and reading calm kids and allow them to fall asleep faster so they don't toss and turn. (Many kids say they aren't tired when they are actually overly wound-up.) A bedtime routine that allows a child to stay up longer because he is reading creates the habit of reading. If a computer is nearby, most kids won't read. But computers and TV suppress melatonin, the sleep hormone, so kids should definitely not use them in the hour before bed. Reading relaxes kids, allows melatonin to flood their bodies (make sure their lights are not too bright), and is the best way to raise kids' IQs and school grades.
Give your new routine a couple of months, and then you can tackle mornings so everyone gets out the door peacefully. You'll be amazed at how much more smoothly everything runs.