Getting kids ready and out the door for school

Children getting on the bus

Why do mornings seem so difficult?  

For parents, especially working parents, there’s typically so much to do in a short period of time.  

Mornings also provide the perfect opportunity for children to assert their individuality and independence.  

With the clock ticking for work and meetings, this is peak time for power struggles, and as we know, power struggles can be frustrating and overwhelming for adults and children alike. Whether your children are going back to school or struggling with a new morning routine, getting ready for school or child care doesn’t have to be a struggle.  

Here’s some simple tips you can use to get your child out the door and on their way to school.

Tips for a smooth morning routine before school or child care

Adults have been going through mornings for many years. We know what we need to do, when we need to do it and how we need to do it.

Well, most of the time anyway! 

In the busyness of it all, we often think our children should also automatically know what to do. 

However, by steering clear of that assumption we are able to identify and intentionally provide the resources and tools our children need to be successful. 

The most helpful tool you can provide your young child is a routine. Even better, you can empower your child by allowing them to collaborate on setting this routine.

Have a family meeting

During a family discussion, ask your child what they think would make the morning routine run more smoothly.

Once you’ve devised a plan together, you can take it a step further by having your children assist you in creating a visual schedule for the routine. Routine charts are helpful for everyone in a family, not just children. 

Older children can participate by writing and illustrating each part of their routine. Alternatively, younger children can have their picture taken while they participate in the parts of the routine, such as brushing their teeth or putting on their shoes. Add these images to the routine chart.

By including your child in the creation of a routine chart, they become more invested in the outcome which will likely increase their acceptance of the new system.

Leave room for unhurried moments. 

Give yourself time for some unhurried moments together before you must leave the house, this includes making sure everybody has enough sleep and rises early enough to avoid rushing.  

If you both are ready early, spend that extra time giving your undivided attention to your child while reading, talking, or doing some other activity together.

Always follow through when you promise your child you’ll spend time together if the morning routine goes smoothly. 

Complete chores the night before.

To make the morning routine less stressful, organize tasks the night before, and encourage your child to help with chores that are suitable for them.

For example, prepare lunch boxes after dinner and leave them in the fridge overnight.  You can also set the breakfast table for the next morning after clearing the dinner dishes. 

If possible, ask family members to bathe/shower/wash hair the night before, and gather permission forms, lunch money, or notebooks.  

During this time, you can also decide what clothes will be worn the next day.

Offer encouragement. 

If a small child is prone to dawdling, you may have to offer frequent gentle reminders.  

When you are busy in the kitchen and the child’s room is on another level, have them dress nearby where you can supervise while you work.  

It can be easy to coax, remind, and nag here, but instead, let your routines be the boss. Remaining kind yet firm will ensure that the boundaries you’ve set are held.

If your child does need gentle reminders, guide them back to the routine chart they helped create.  

For example, you can say, “Awesome! Looks like you finished brushing your teeth. What comes next?” 

Don’t forget to recognize your children’s good effort by using encouragement on days when everything works well and your family starts the day on time!

Set reasonable expectations.  

Expect your children to do what they’re capable of.

For example, older children can wash and dress themselves, whereas this may be an unreasonable expectation for a younger child.  

Set one task at a time to make expectations seem more attainable

Get out the door.  

If a child has not been cooperative, try to get them ready with as little fuss as possible.  

Don’t scold or chat. Just do what is necessary to leave on time. 

We all have mornings where it’s just harder to get out the door. Remember to give yourself, and your child, understanding on those tougher days.


Children getting on the bus