Tips for Getting Teenagers into a Morning Routine

Teens and parents can work together for a less hectic morning.

Hispanic teenage girl covering eyes in bed
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Getting kids out of bed, fed, and to school on time, all while parents get ready for their own day ahead can feel like a monumental task, especially when teenagers are involved. Setting and sticking to a routine is crucial, especially if everyone is going their separate ways as soon as they leave the house. A little advance work goes a very long way to keeping that morning rush feeling less hectic and more like a well-oiled machine.

There are no guarantees that every morning will go smoothly, but you can minimize some of the chaos with some simple preparations.

Make a routine and stick to it every school day.

Ideally, you'll establish a routine when your child is smaller, such as whether to take a bath before bed or a shower in the morning, when to eat breakfast or when to get dressed. If you haven't already, establishing a set order of activities for your teenager will be crucial, so that they can do most of the things on their morning list without too much thought, and without you hovering over them every minute. It also gives kids a sense of control that they really need, especially in a stressful situation where they're short on time.

Prepare the night before.

Even if you're tired at the end of a long day, a little prep time in the evening will pay off huge the next morning. Be sure everyone gets enough sleep during the night, ideally a minimum of eight hours.

Before they hit the hay, homework, books, and anything that has to go to school should be in your teen's bag near the door in a designated spot. This is something a teenager can do themselves, but may require a parent's supervision, or at least a quick spot-check now and again.

Although they tend to change their minds about clothes on an hourly basis, it's a good idea to get your teen to at least think about what they'll wear the next day.

Ideally they'll get everything picked out before bed, to save precious time in the morning.

And it's wise to have a designated area near the front door (or the exit your family uses to get out of the house in the morning) for shoes, jackets and whatever else your teen has to take with them. Since daily activities vary, make sure she checks her weekly schedule, so if gym or band practice is on the agenda, she's got any equipment or extra clothes she needs...

Finally, make a habit of checking the weather forecast. You don't want to send your kid to school with a jacket that's not warm enough, or without an umbrella if rain is expected.

Lunches: Get 'em done in advance and set a reminder.

If your teen buys lunch at school make sure they have their money somewhere in their bag or jacket. If they're bringing their lunch, this is a good after-dinner pre-homework task for a teen to take charge of. Since most of their lunch items will need refrigeration, put a note near the door reminding everyone "remember your lunch!" A fully-prepared lunch that gets left behind in the fridge doesn't do anyone any good.

Make time for breakfast.

While not everyone is at their most chipper before 9 a.m., this can be a way to sneak in a little quality time with your teen while you make sure they get off to a healthy start.

Cereal bowls and spoons can be set up the night before as well, to take a little bit of that morning edge off. 

Parents: Get up 15 minutes before the kids do.

Start your morning routine or have a cup of coffee. Give yourself some quiet time before the rush of everyone else getting ready and needing your attention. This ‘me time’ does wonders for those of us who take a little time to wake up.

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