How are you mornings going? Want to see more smiles? This month’s featured parenting tool is routines. Read on to get tips on using two tools for creating morning routines that aren’t full of drudgery.

Mornings can be quite hectic when they involve guiding and prompting children to eat breakfast, stop playing with toys, get dressed and travel to the car. For younger kids, add climbing into a car seat and sitting still enough for buckling procedures. Older kids often need reminders about lunch boxes, back packs, homework and sports equipment. The task of getting kids up and out the door each morning feels “full” – full of details, full of nags, full of tension and time constraints.

Curiosity Questions for Morning Routines

During my live parenting workshops, I often recommend visual routine charts as a way for kids to “see” the tasks they need to complete each morning. Often I ask a volunteer to be a child who has learned the steps in a routine. Then I ask curiosity questions to the “child” (volunteer) to help the child stay focused on completing the next task. My goal is to show parents an alternative to nagging – by asking curiosity questions. When parents nag, kids can tune us out. But when parents ask questions, kids have to turn the wheels on in their brains to search for the answers.

Examples of curiosity questions to use with routines and routine charts:

  • What’s next on your routine?
  • What do you need to do next to get out the door on time?
  • What ideas do you have for getting your clothes on?

Connection for Morning Routines

The routines tool is a good one, but one I think is best paired with connection. A morning routine full of boring “must do” tasks won’t produce long term results for your child. What your child craves most is connection with you. Build a morning routine for your child around the concept of connection. To start, ask yourself these questions:

  • How can I weave connection activities into my child’s morning routine?
  • How does my child like to connect with me in the morning?

These connections can be as short as a “hug mom” between your child getting dressed and eating breakfast or as long as the two of you brushing your teeth together or reading a story together.

Changing Our View of Routines

In our culture the word routines does sound boring and is usually associated with dry tasks, but it doesn’t have to be that way at your house. What quick but playful elements can you try in your morning routine? Here are a few ideas to get your mind turning:

  • joke of the day (your kid can subscribe to this on-line and tell you the joke)
  • 2 minutes of snuggle time
  • high fives throughout the routine on Mondays, hugs on Tuesdays, hip bump on Wednesdays, crazy dance on Thursdays, etc.
  • make up a silly morning song

Share Your Ideas for Morning Routines

What do you do to add play and connection to your morning routines with your kids? Share you ideas below so other parents can benefit!

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