How to apply an efficient morning / evening routine

How to apply an efficient morning / evening routine

Before you had kids, you probably thought that routine was something for the elderly, reminiscent of fluffy slippers and evening news. Once you have children though, routine means something entirely different. See, it is a universal law that once kids turn two, they suddenly start vehemently saying no to all your requests of coming to the table, getting dressed and leaving out the front door. “Getting ready” or “going to bed” then take on a totally different dimension as you’re constantly negotiating with your offspring to get them to do completely normal things. That in turns leaves you totally exhausted, physically and mentally. We’ve all heard of routines, we’ve read about them, we know what they should contain and why they’re important. The hitch? Kids don’t care half as much as we do. So how do you apply your routine? How do you make sure it serves its purpose? Here are a few starting points…

Talk about it

The piece of good news here is that when children start saying “no”, they’re also ready to start understanding more conceptual things like future actions. Talk to them about it in advance, for example, when you pick them up from kindergarten and you make your way home, start depicting what will happen: “we’re gonna get home, get undressed, wash our hands and then have a snack before playing”. Or when you put on the TV “you watch this one show then when we turn it off we’ll have dinner, shower then put on our PJs before reading a bedtime story”. Repetition here is key. Children are less likely to fight you off when they know the same routine will happen day after day. Talking about it in advance makes it that bit easier as well for them to go with the flow.

Draw it

If your child is still under 3, drawing your routine could also be a great visual aid. For each time of the day you think you need a routine, draw a range of boxes on paper. In each box you should depict the actions in the order you want them to happen. So when you discuss the routine that’s about to happen, you can point to it and your child will be reassured to know what’s happening. It also helps when you’re in the middle of it, just to remind your child where you’re at.

You could also use the routine chart as a bonus chart. Just laminate it and put a sticker in every box as they get completed without complaining.

Do it in one go

Now this is simple but has turned our routine around. I used to have a routine with my children (2 and 7) but I allowed way too much roaming between the routine steps. It went like: dinner, then children would go off playing while I was clearing the table. Then I had to interrupt their playing to get them to shower. Afterwards they would start a game whilst I was tidying the bathroom, and I had to interrupt them again to brush their teeth. Now we do everything in one big swoop, I ask for their full attention and give them mine for a definite period of time. When all the “tasks” are over and done with, then they can play, and I can straighten up our place. Instead of interrupting them 10 times I only do it once, therefore only negotiating once.




Do not forget to praise your child when they’re met your expectations. It is simple but so rewarding for them…

Make exceptions

Yes yes, you read me right. For me, the goal of a routine is to allow for these exceptions and still make sure that your children are properly fed, clothed and washed 95% of the time. So when you’re too tired or sick, or just having an off day, it’s also ok to throw the routine off. Again talk to your children about what’s going to happen, and why. They will love a bit of change, so exciting!


I hope it will give you a few clues as to how to start applying your routine. The first days can be tough as your children will need to adapt to something new. But don’t cave in just at the beginning, remember your end goal and try to set a positive atmosphere around the routine.

Do you have any tips and tricks that have helped your family get through your morning / evening routine?

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