how to create a routine

After a decade of doing this mom thing I am looking down the barrel of a new season! My last, my baby is officially in Kindergarten. I sobbed about this impending chapter back in May, but now I welcome it with open arms. Of course there is a fringe of sorrow right around the edges as I see that there is no going back. My feet have left Babyville and Toddler Town. We are all in–and are currently up to our eyeballs–in elementary school. All three will reside in that life for one year. And then I will wade into the waters of middle school with my oldest. It’s true what they say about time. It flies when you are having fun and honestly, I am really enjoying the ages of my kids. I plan to increase that joy with each passing year and don’t waste your breathe trying to convince me otherwise. I am having none of it.

So, with this congruent year of everyone on the same schedule and leaving home at the same time, I am capitalizing on my good fortune. My main goals for creating a morning routine for my elementary kids are:

  1. To equip them with good “morning getting ready” habits.
  2. So Crazy Mom makes fewer pre-bus-stop appearances.

My best advice is do NOT rush to Pinterest. (If you found this post there well, that doesn’t count, and you will see why.) If you have a need for a routine, I think it is less about seeing something that looks cute and trying to copy it. I can say, I did not get this idea from there. I want to invite you to the ultimate Google search engine. Dear reader, I would like to introduce you to Holy Spirit. Yep, if you know me at all you are completely UNsurprised that this is where I went. Let me tell you my story to morning routine victory.

Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.

I prayed. I asked God to show me how to make our mornings run smoother. I listened. I thought about what has worked before and what has not. Here are my best tips for getting your family in a better routine in the morning. It takes 21 days to create a habit (or so they say) so give grace and keep at it for three weeks and see if a month into school you aren’t feeling a little better about the morning.

  • Evaluate the type of kid you have.

Are they early risers? Do they move like a sloth in the morning? Are they easily distracted and often forget key steps to getting ready? Are they happy or subdued in the morning?

Knowing your child will help to customize some of the decisions you make about when to start or how to get the tasks complete. Mine are typically easy going in the morning but are prone to be distracted easily by electronics. So we do no devices (unless I let the watch TV) after 7:30am. If they want to get up before that and watch TV or play on a tablet, that is up to them. My early riser loves this and gets up easily before 7 almost every morning. The 7:30 rule applies to me too. I am here to help them and model good choices in the morning.


  • Determine the time needed to easily get out the door.

Again, going back to the type of kid(s) you have this part is up to you. We budget about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning. It has been known to happen in 15 before but that gets crazy and someone usually cries. Now this is just my three being ready to walk out the door. If I too need to be prepared to leave that changes things. We also don’t do showers in the morning so that step is taken care of at night. (Which may also change as they get older).


  • Night time prep is so helpful.

Like I mentioned we bathe the night before and for the most part, pick clothes the night before. I remind them which special they have so they can dress accordingly.


  • Morning lists have changed our life!

This is something new I am putting into place and I am encouraged by the results so far. I made a list of basic getting ready tasks. These will seem obvious, but I can change the list any time if I feel they are getting the process. When these things become habit, maybe we can add things or lessen the list, but until then, things like “get dressed” are on there. Also, if they complete the list, they can watch TV or play on a device, so it keeps me from having to think up the necessary items for them to be ready to leave. My ¬†youngest is a very beginning reader so the pictures help her to remember what each item says.

Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so the can check off the item each day.

Each list is slipped into a dry-erase pocket so they can check off the item each day.


  • Everything has a place.

The hooks in our mudroom are dedicated to a specific kid and they are conditioned to put their bookbag on the hook and their folder on the counter each day when they get home from school. This plays into the morning when they are leaving, we are not rushing around looking for key school items.


As a final note, I use an alarm on my phone that is 5 minutes before we need to leave for bus stop. This is a final help that pulls us out of any rabbit-hole distraction that we encountered in the morning. They can brush teeth and slap on some shoes in that amount of time. Lately with the lists and the discipline to wake a child that is still asleep at 7:30. We are rushing less and I am yelling way less. Not every morning is perfect, but they are getting better and the results of my prayer time can be felt in the mornings. Kids really do thrive on routine and although I am not one who enjoys a lot of structure, I am pressing that aside to give my kids good habits. Truth be told, it is teaching me a thing or two as well.

Ultimately, you have to find what works for you and the personality of your kids. Pinterest is great for inspiration, but I would encourage you to spend time praying and journaling the thoughts that come during that time first. You might be surprised what God will reveal to you. For instance, I was confronted with the fact that when I play on my phone after 7:30, kids see and do what I do. The problem with that is I don’t have to be out the door ready for the day at 8:30 they do! I must lead by example and show how to prioritize appropriately. That came to me in my prayer time. God’s wisdom is ours for the taking…we only need to be willing to receive it.

On a slightly related topic, I get up at 6am so that I can have an hour completely to myself. This is what works for me and I LOVE getting my time with God in a quiet house with no one up but me. I will post about that soon. But I would love to hear what works for you and your kids! Comment below What is your best tip for a smooth morning?