Morning & Bedtime Routines for Kids
If your kids are like mine, they drag their feet getting out of bed in the morning and then drag out dinner as long as possible to avoid going to bed at night. What makes this easier for all of us is having set morning and bedtime routines that start and end at the same time each day.
Routines are important for kids because it helps them develop healthy habits and a sense of independence. My kids can run through their routines without any guidance from me at this point (with the exception of my son who still gets distracted by his Legos at times).
I’m not sure who struggles getting up more in the morning – me or my kids. I fortunately work from home so I don’t need to fully get ready before waking up kids. I just end up splashing some water on my face and putting in contacts about five minutes before needing to wake up kids.
I commend the mamas and dads out there that need to get fully ready for work prior to getting their kids off to school. Seriously, who made school start so early in the morning?
Positive Attitude & Turn Lights On
I read somewhere once that the first fifteen minutes sets the tone for the day. So, it is important to start your kid’s day with a positive attitude. I sometimes like to sing “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain to them, or if they are particularly struggling, tickling is a great way to get little ones out of bed quickly.
I also tend to turn a beside lamp on right away to discourage them from drifting back off to sleep. Sometimes I tell them I need to see feet on the ground before I can walk away. Generally, by the time their feet are on the ground they are awake enough to go on with their day.
If your kiddo needs help waking up in the morning, you could try a sleep training alarm clock. I wish I had known about these when my son was a toddler. These cute, nifty gadgets turn different colors to let your kids know when it is “sleep time” and when it is “awake time”. This way it helps train them to stay in bed and not wake you up at the crack ass of dawn.
First thing my kids do in the morning is to brush their teeth because no one likes stinky morning breath. My son tends to rush through brushing his teeth, which causes me to send him back to the sink another three times before he actually brushes his teeth.
If your kids have the same problem, try a timer or teach them to sing a song like the ABCs in their head while brushing their teeth. For those who have unicorn loving kids, I came across this super cute toothbrush with a built in timer!
My kids are at the age where they can easily dress themselves. However, from early on I let them decide whatever they wanted to wear as long as it was appropriate for wherever we were going.
This means sometimes my son wears Christmas shirts in May or my daughter has worn a bright pink sparkle skirt with a flower crown on her head. I think it is important to express themselves, but most importantly gain the independence to dress themselves.
If you have a toddler, it might be faster to put clothes on for them, but every now and then challenge them to put their clothes on by themselves. It helps with their fine motor skills and again allows them to gain independence in getting themselves ready.
The sooner you can teach them this, the sooner you don’t have to take time to help them.
Turn Lights Off
Maybe this is just my son, but he leaves every single light on in the house no matter where he goes. It is probably the reason our bill is so high each month
So, as part of our morning routine, we try to remember to turn off all the lights before leaving our room in the morning. I can’t say we have mastered this yet, but we are getting there.
I always tell my son to pack his school bag first before eating breakfast. He has a tendency to get distracted and eat really slowly, so I prefer him pack everything first just in case we need to grab food on the go. I much rather do that than rush to find where he put his folder and homework from the night before.
While he is getting dressed, I tend to pack his lunch so he can add it to his bag when it is ready. As kids get older, they can start making their own lunch as part of their morning routine.
Just make sure you have easy prepackaged food. It helps teens create healthy habits and also starts to teach them time management skills in the morning.
Last thing in our routine is to eat breakfast. I am not one of those mom’s that has time to make smoothies or whip up scrambled eggs and bacon. Props to anyone that is that awake in the morning.
For us, it is all about frozen breakfast sandwiches, bagels, toast, or cereal. Once your kids learn how to use the toaster or microwave, these are things that they can easily make for themselves.
Bedtimes for us became more consistent when my son started school. In preschool, he was used to getting a nap each day, which went away when he started kindergarten.
So, in order for him to still get the amount of sleep he needed, we had to back up his bedtime to 7:30pm. This means that we start his bedtime routine roughly around 6:45pm.
Blue light from screens can keep your little one’s brain wired so it is important to turn off electronics at least and hour before bedtime. This helps kids understand it is time to start winding down and the start of their bedtime routine.
Taking a shower or bath at night is a great way to get kids to start calming down. Plus, it wipes away the grime of the day and promotes healthy hygiene habits.
When kids are younger, they don’t necessarily need to bathe every day unless they are doing something particularly messy. Even if they aren’t fully getting clean, getting in the tub can be a fun way to end their day. You can even try Mr. Bubble Bath with lavender scent to promote sleepiness.
Just like in the morning, it is good to promote good hygiene habits of brushing their teeth twice per day.
Get your kids started on flossing sooner rather than later too. You can buy the little flossers with the handles to make for easy flossing.
Reading nightly to your kids can help expand their imagination as well as develop their language skills. It is important to do this starting as newborns. Let your kids read with you as they start to learn new words.
The 100 First Words book is great for getting kids involved asking them to point to certain things. As my kids started reading books with longer sentences, I would often trace the words with my finger so they could follow along.
With my daughter, we used to take turns each reading a page of the Harry Potter books. It allowed us time to bond together while also working on her reading endurance.
As my son has gotten older and learned to read himself, I often quiz him on what certain words mean when he comes across them in a book. Even if he doesn’t know the words, he has learned to use context clues to figure out what a word means and expand his vocabulary.
So, reading can really be a great way to spend quality time together before bed while still learning. It helps little kids get their sleepy eyes right before lights go out.
Every night I like to check in with my kids. I tend to ask them how school went the moment they get home, but at night I ask them more what were the best parts of their day.
I want them to self reflect on the positive things that happened to them and the things that they enjoyed most. Additionally, we talk about things that they are looking forward to the next day.
Nighttime is a good time to connect and just check-in with how your kids are feeling. Perhaps they are nervous about a test coming up or are upset about something that happened earlier in the day.
Bringing this check-in into their bedtime routine makes them know that there will always be a safe time and place when they can express their feelings.
I always like to sing songs to my kids to help drift them off to sleep. If you don’t love singing, try a sound machine to bring the same calming effect. Encourage your kids to maybe sing to you though, especially if they are learning things like their ABCs.
Just as we started our day on a positive note, I like to end it on one as well. For some this might be a quick prayer, but for me this is more just wishing my kids have sweet dreams and telling them how much I love them.
Sending them off to sleep in a positive mindset helps them wake up with a clear head and ready to start fresh on their morning routine.
Tips for Speeding Up Your Routine
- Lay out your kid’s clothes the night before. If you incorporate that into your nightly routine, it could save you some time in your mornings. This is good especially if your kids (or you!) like to move extra slowly.
- Have premade grab and go snacks for packing lunches. If you need advice on how to quickly pack lunches, head over to my Must-Haves for Quick School Lunches post.
- Use a visual to do list for your kids to make sure they don’t forget anything in their routines. Download my reminders below or try purchasing a customizable to do list.
- Don’t be too strict with your routines! I find that the more I rush my kids to keep moving, the more they slow down. Give them time warnings, but try to teach them to manage their own time and stay on track.