How to Establish a Morning Routine that Works

Ever wake up early with the best intentions of getting to work on time, or even early, only to be even later than usual?

Do you struggle to get yourself and your family ready in the morning?

When I lived on my own, before a family, before having a smartphone, before being old and requiring more than three hours of sleep a night I had absolutely no problem being on time.  For everything. In fact, I was often early everywhere I went. Now those days are gone.

I have a hard time waking up in the morning usually because I get up with one of the kids at night.  When I do drag my butt out of bed early it is generally because one of the kids wakes up before I do.

After making sure everyone gets up and out of bed I change the smallest kid’s diaper and then make coffee and fix breakfast for myself and the kids.  Often this is interrupted twenty times because I have to be a referee and break up wrestling matches or I have to settle a disagreement about what TV show they are going to watch.  I sometimes have to wake up my husband multiple times too.

Once the kids and I have eaten there’s the normal struggle getting the kids dressed and their teeth brushed, matching socks and shoes found and put on, if you have kids, you know the drill.  I must make sure the TV is prepped with a show that will last long enough for me to take a quick shower and also make sure the little one is in the Pack ‘n Play so that he doesn’t get into any trouble.

I take a shower which is often interrupted by the oldest kid and then I rush to dress, fix my hair, put on makeup, help put on jackets, and then make sure all the required stuff is in the car and ready to leave: husband, kids, school bag, my purse, and lunch, etc.

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Does this sound exhausting?  ‘Cause it is.  And this is before the workday starts.

In order to cut the chaos and up my morning productivity, I’ve developed a routine that helps me get the most out of my time in the morning and get my family ready and out the door easier.  My morning routine might not work for you, but I would encourage you to examine your mornings and see how you can make small changes in order to make a big impact.  Even if you don’t have kids, you can probably find some takeaways that can be helpful.

How to Establish a Morning Routine

Find your problem areas

Do you often oversleep?  Rush around the house looking for your keys?  Think about what time-eaters are taking up your morning and make a list.


Create a plan

Once you’ve figured out what takes up most of your time in the morning, make a plan to put a fix in place for everything on your list.  If you often oversleep, do you need to set more than one alarm?  Do you need to put your alarm clock or phone across the room so you must get out of bed to turn it off?

Follow through

So you’ve got a plan, great.  Now comes the hard part- you have to follow through and implement the changes you need to make to make your morning routine work.

Be consistent

Consistency is key to making sure that your routine is a success.  Once you’ve done a process over and over again it becomes automatic and easier to stick to.

Get everyone involved

There are always factors that you can’t account for, and in most cases, it seems that it is the actions of others.  When there are more people than just you, everyone needs to have a hand in making your routine work.  Obviously, kids can only do so much, but I’ve found that most kids like routines and structure.  Give them an age-appropriate task to do that will assist in keeping things moving, such as checking that their homework is in their school bag or making sure their shoes and jacket are on by themselves.

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Prep the night before 

Check the calendar for activities; have permission slips signed and homework completed; shower before bed- if you can prepare the night before it will take so much less time to get ready in the morning.

Get up early


I know this seems like a given, but waking up early can give you a little wiggle room to deal with the unexpected, accomplish something you forgot about, or drink a cup of coffee and wake up a little before the rest of the house wakes.

What works for me

  • I have one central place for each kid’s jacket and shoes
  • I pack my lunch at night so I don’t forget or rush to do it in the morning
  • My coffeemaker has a timer so I put fresh water and coffee grounds in it each night before bed
  • If I need to take something extra to daycare (like diapers, wipes, snacks, etc.) I will put it in the car the night before so I don’t forget
  • I will often put a sticky note on the door going from my kitchen into the garage with reminders
  • Each kid’s outfit for the next day is placed in the living room
  • Before I go to bed I lay out the diaper changing mat with a diaper and wipes all ready to go- that way I can change a diaper in the middle of the night if I need to or it is ready in the morning
  • I make overnight oatmeal so all I have to do is warm it up in the morning.  Mix 1/2 c old fashioned oats, 1 tbsp chia seed, blueberries, 1/2 c almond milk. Cover and refrigerate.  Microwave for 3 minutes.
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Don’t stress

You could go crazy trying to get everything ready the night before and end up going to bed late or worrying all night long about something you forgot.  As long as you get one or two things ready it will take a dent out of the time it takes to get moving in the morning.

There is always something inevitable that happens: the baby has a poop-splosion right before we leave, my daughter decides she needs to be Miss Independent and get in her car seat and buckle it all by herself, my husband forgets a meeting he needed to leave early for, we get stuck in traffic… expect the unexpected and don’t stress when it happens.


What does your morning routine look like?  Do you prep the night before or just wing it?  I’d love to hear from you!






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