It’s not some illusive idea. The Perfect Morning Routine does exist, and it’s right at your fingertips. See how we make it work with these 7 tips!
Whether you are shuffling backpacks and lunch boxes to meet the school bus or organizing multiple kids and subjects for homeschool, we all face the morning frenzy.
You know what I’m talking about. It’s that way-too-small period of time between the blaring of the alarm clock and the beginning of our activities. You might recognize it by the sounds of screaming, crying, sheer hysteria… or even the buzzing of the dreaded “tardy bell.”
When I was a classroom teacher, this was one thing that absolutely infuriated me. Every single day I’d watch parents fling their half-dressed and nearly manic children out of the car for school in hopes that they would beat the tardy bell. Well, most of them anyway. Some didn’t even attempt to beat it, which made me even more upset. How did they not see what they were doing to their children? How could they not see that this type of beginning set the tone for the entire day- which ultimately led to a feeling of frustration and failure?
As life would have it, it didn’t take long before I was one of THOSE parents. Well, I wasn’t exactly tossing the kids out at the car line. It all started when I shoved them into the toddler and preschool classrooms at church or at Tuesday morning Bible study. We were usually “on time” but the cost of making that happen often involved hysteria, tears, raised voices, and much more than I’d prefer to recall.
Effective parents learn how to begin the morning without the frenzy, whether they leave the home for work, school, church, or they just need to start the homeschool lessons.
Fortunately for me, a very wise and gracious mentor mom gave me a few tips very early on that changed everything in our home. I quickly went from arriving at church wondering if the oatmeal was still burning on the stove or if my 18-month-old was wearing a diaper, to being able to focus on the true purpose for being there. I was so thankful for her wise advice.
And so I thought I would share it with you. By the way, I still use this morning routine in my homeschool. It’s crucial that we set ourselves up for success each day. We might not be boxed in by the “tardy bell” but we do have goals for the day and starting the morning well is the key to successfully reaching those goals. So let’s dig in and change our mornings!
Table of Contents
7 tips for finding the perfect morning routine
1. Start the night before
Yes, I know you know this, but it bears repeating, especially if you need to be out the door early. When I used to teach our homeschool co-op, we had to leave our house at 7:15am. For a homeschool family, that’s pretty early! But we were never late or hurried, because I knew exactly how to prepare the night before. EVERYTHING we needed was ready: backpacks, shoes, outfits, lunches, lesson plans. Everything. And most of that was already in the CAR!
You could get things together in the morning, but it is hard to predict a situation like a shirt that needs to be ironed, a paper that is lost, or a fridge that is void of lunch-appropriate foods. If we are going to have a successful morning, it’s best to start the night before.
I started doing this for church when my kids were very little and now the routine is second nature to them. My girls were laying out clothes for the next day without my prompting by the time they were 7 or 8 years old.
In our homeschool, I make sure that lesson plans are ready, notebooks are out on the table, and supplies for the next day have been gathered.
2. Make God a priority for everyone
The next step is to give God the right position in your day. Oh, I know you are busy and I know you aren’t a morning person. I’ve made about a dozen similar excuses to skip this part, too. But the truth is, we need God to direct our paths every single day and we can’t do that unless we are spending time with Him. I cannot tell you how badly I wish I had believed that decades earlier than I really did.
The good news is that we know now. And that’s all you need, too. Start simple and small, but always start your day with God. It doesn’t have to be 3 hours of study with a concordance bigger than a college Chemistry textbook. Just stop everything, open your Bible and talk to God. Oh and don’t forget… as your kids become old enough (around 8 years old in my opinion), it’s time to help them establish a quiet time, too.
3. Make excellent use of the alarm
You need an alarm. If you have a smart phone, even better. I set mine for many different times during our daily routine. There’s my wake up time, then my work time. I set an alarm for that so I can remember to end my personal quiet time and move into writing mode before my kids get up. Then I have an alarm for waking them up, starting their quiet times, starting family devotions, starting school, etc. You get the idea. The more alarms, the more on-target we stay.
This is a screenshot from my iPhone. Obviously, I haven’t included every detail of the morning. I rarely need reminders to brush my teeth or get dressed. But I do usually need reminders to help me manage my time wisely. That’s the focus. Although we don’t always follow it rigidly, it keeps us from getting too far off track.
It’s tempting as a homeschooler not to set an alarm, but I always find the day to be much less effective when I don’t. Many times, I end the day feeling as though I have not accomplished much of anything. When I use alarms to stay on track with our goals, it’s amazing how different the perspective is- and we get more done!
4. Put the kids in charge of breakfast
If I haven’t told you how I do breakfast, you’re going to want to hug me when we get done here. Actually, this past spring that’s exactly what moms did when they found our booth at the Teach them Diligently Homeschool Convention. When it comes to breakfast, they always say the same thing- “You saved my life.”
When the kids were young, I would spend spend one day prepping foods like muffins, energy balls, pre-portioned oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, etc. to last a couple of months. Now that they’re older, we work together to prep and freeze breakfast options. Then during the week the kids can choose one of the prepared items for a quick but healthy breakfast. After they eat, they’re then responsible for cleaning up their dishes. It saves time. It fosters independence. It keeps me from losing my mind over meal time. Win-win-win.
Maybe it wouldn’t take me a very long time to clean up breakfast dishes. But the goal is to teach kids that they have a responsibility with their space. They live in this home so they too need to play a role in keeping the space tidy. Establishing simple (but super helpful) systems in the home makes our lives that much easier as homeschoolers.
5. Don’t let the simple chores slip away
If you have to be somewhere in the morning like co-op, church, or school, this is probably not the time for a lengthy chore list. However, we still need to make sure we are developing good habits in our kids.
It only takes a few seconds to make your bed, put your breakfast dishes in the sink, and make sure that you don’t throw dirty clothes on the floor. These “morning chores” are a vital part of every single day in our house. No, I’m not saying they do it well every time, but it’s the goal and it sets the tone of caring for our blessings and keeps us from having massive piles and mess. You’ll find more help with chores here.
6. Have a family devotion or meeting
I think every single day (except Sunday) should start with a quick family devotion or meeting. This is our time to connect before everything else in the world grabs our attention. We keep it super simple, focusing on what we learned in our own quiet times, as well as praying together. On Sundays, we do this after church in more depth, discussing our quiet times and also the sermon. It’s a great way to end our family meal and has become a very lovely tradition in our home. Check out our favorite family Bible studies here.
7. Leave more time than you need
No groaning, ok? I know you don’t want to get up extra early and your kids probably don’t either. But I promise it’s worth it. If we have somewhere to be, I always decide how long we need to get ready and then add an extra half hour. Being rushed leads to frustration, anger, hateful words, and kids who really don’t enjoy their lives. Make time to get it done without the stress.
Bonus tip: if you homeschool, consider these 5 ways to teach your child work independently. This helps my kids get started right away and cuts down on wasted time. They always know what to do.
That’s all folks. It’s really not that bad, is it? Do these 7 things and I promise you will see huge changes in your home. Go try it and come back and tell me how it went, ok?
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.